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Sugar Bowl Mix: Red hands

Monday, December 13, 2010

Red hands

I have red hands. Red palms and fingers to be specific. Red, inflamed, tingly, numb palms and fingers.

It started two weeks ago when the palms of my hands started to feel tight, hot, and strange.

The following morning they looked like this.

I couldn't feel my finger tips. My hands felt like they do when they're really cold and are dropped in hot water. All the time. They throbbed. They hurt.

I couldn't open bottles or tie shoes. Two things I was being asked to do. Constantly.

Off I traipsed to the doctor. She was a little perplexed. She prescribed steroid cream.

The girls greeted me each day after school with. "How are your hands, Mommy?" followed by,"Ooh, they're still so red! That cream isn't working!"

Two days later and still no improvement. Back to the doctor. She ordered blood work to test for lupus. You know, just in case. I tried not to think about it a whole lot but lying in bed that night with my two girls asleep and my cat pressed up tight against me my mind wandered to some dark, lonely places.

The next day the red started spreading onto the tops of my hands, my back, my feet, my achilles heel.  I've had eczema most of my life so  I knew enough to know this was not auto-immune disorder but a skin issue.

The dermatologist diagnosed it immediately: Eczema that had become systemic. This type of eczema flare-up is usually triggered by high stress. She had no explanation for why it had flared up on my hands where I have never experienced eczema before. She put me on strong oral steroids. I didn't sleep for a week. Steroids do that to you.

A few days after starting the oral steroids the skin on my hands started to slough off. Big chunks of skin.

I find little piles of skin chunks, like this one on Katherine's drawing, everywhere.

I'm supposed to apply thick steroid ointment three times a day and wear cotton gloves 24/7. It's a pain and it's yucky. I take the gloves off in my sleep so now I put socks on at night. Those seem to stay put.

The dermatological gloves need to be washed regularly. Sometime I wear socks. It's easier.

Yesterday I went to the hair salon. Wearing socks. On my hands.
"Are you cold, Anne?" the hair stylist asked in the middle of discussing my cut.
"No, I'm fine," I said, wondering why he was asking me that when it felt like 80 degrees in the salon.
The hair stylist began trimming my hair but he looked bothered by something.
"Are you sure you're not cold?" he asked again. This time I noticed he was looking at my hands. In white cotton socks. Duh.

My hands are still swollen and red and sloughy.

But I'm looking on the bright side. Oral steroids are done with, I've slept for three nights in a row, and when this is all over I'm going to have the most beautifully exfoliated hands and feet in all of Los Angeles.

And I didn't even have to go to a spa.

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