The Heartbreak of Dermatitis


In case any of my local readers see me out in public, please understand that my sober expression has nothing to do with my inner feelings. I haven’t become a deep thinker and there hasn’t been a death in the family. My swollen eyes are not an indication of a recent crying bout. When I scratch my forehead it doesn’t mean that I’m working through a problem, or forming an outline for the next classic American novel. And the bright red scratches on my cheeks don’t mean I’ve developed a nervous compulsion.

Why do I have a swollen, patchy, red face with a mask-like expression, you might ask?  What started out as a severe case of chapped lips and a minor scourge with eczema has now developed into a full blown case of dermatitis.

After multiple attempts to self-diagnose and treat over the past 43 days, I finally gave in and went to the doctor.  It is never a good thing when your doctor looks at you and says, “Hmmmmm, let me step outside, do some research and consult with my colleagues.”

After what seemed like a very long time he returned confident that he had reached a diagnosis and treatment plan for me. Atopic dermatitis was his decree, with prescriptions for a powerful steroid ointment and prednisone pills as a back up. I suppose I shouldn’t be shocked that a shallow person would develop a skin-deep condition, but I was still devastated.

He also directed me to stop wearing makeup, and declared that I was beautiful without it. Beautiful! With this crazy looking face? This statement simultaneously created a sense of distrust in his judgement, and boosted his survey scores. I reluctantly decided to trust him since obviously he has a very sophisticated ability to identify inner beauty.

With a sense of urgency, I jogged over to the pharmacy and felt a bit of paranoia as people stared at me.  I noticed they instantly looked away when I made eye contact. I felt a surge of empathy for the Elephant Man.

I forgot myself and busted out in a smile at the lovely counter person who rang up my precious tube of promise. This resulted in a domino effect: pain, then an involuntary scream. Before she could push the panic button for a lock down of the store, I briefly explained my situation and double-timed it out the door.

Now I await healing, motivated by salted cashews that could go rancid, a bag of kettle chips that may become stale, and dark crusty circles under my eyes that beg to be concealed. In the meantime it is a diet of soft, bland foods, low key emotions, and emollients for me!

Update:  I’m happy to report significant improvement even since I completed this post.  Scroll down for an up-to-date photo.  What do you think?




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