MONDAY, DECEMBER 17, 2018
Hands are the keys to a musicians music. So when your hands are heavily compromised, not only is your daily life compromised, your music can be compromised too.
From October 26 to November 29, my hands were ravaged by dyshidrotic eczema. All of my fingers and both my palms were completely covered in bubble like blisters just under the skin that itched and hurt like HECK. The back of my hands didn't have blisters but the itchy red blotches craved a good scratching constantly. It was maddening at times... so maddening I would give in and rub and scratch them like crazy. But I paid for that dearly, with my hands becoming swollen. My fingers turned more difficult to bend without feeling like they were going to break.
The bubbly blisters not only showed up on my fingers… My palms were completely covered in them too, and eventually they converged into one long blister along my palm lines that made it especially difficult for me to bend my hands or close them. The thick skin from the top of my palms peeled off dramatically and left large areas of fresh new skin delicate and burning with anything that came into contact with it. I had cracking skin and fissures that stung horribly with little movement. Holding many objects were impossible. My sister, Dad, and Mom needed to do many things for me. Even my poor mom, who is battling cancer again, offered to spoon-feed me my favorite cereal when it got too painful for me to hold a spoon on one of her good days. I am so grateful I live with family who are here to help me when something as disheartening as this happens and makes me basically useless for a while.
This skin disorder was triggered by several things. For one thing, I never got it before until I had to take I.V. medication for my leg infection, once in March and then again in April, the second of which led me to acute renal failure in the spring. This skin problem tends to start on people after they’ve had I.V. medication, and comes back during stressful situations like life changes/situations (new baby or severe family illness) or if hands come in contact with certain metals like nickel, chemicals. Also, I wash my hands too much because I don’t like when they have to stay dirty. I was decluttering my room without protective gloves and using Clorox surface wipes... chemicals. Sometimes I wore gloves during chores or decluttering buy my hands looked fine, and I figured as long as I put on some lotion or hand cream after washing them so they don’t get cracked, they’ll be fine. Well, in the middle of November my mom had complications from her treatment and my Dad took her to ER, and he stayed with her while Mom was admitted to the hospital for a few days. I got so worried about Mom, and on top of that, there were other stressors that week that in just two days, my hands went from healthy and fine, to blistery and itchy along most of my fingers. My Mom and I talked this over when she was feeling better that I don’t blame her for this at all, because it couldn’t be helped what happened to her. But she insisted that when I saw a dermatologist/doctor about my hands once it was bad enough that I mention it was in fact the sudden stress that began the onset.
I didn’t realize how much I depended on my hands until it hurt so much to use them. I was still decluttering my room/studio workspace and over-washing my hands in October. Then one stressful thing after another occurred mid-month, with a family illness and the intense worry about what could happen, and then came the worst flare-up of dyshidrotic eczema I’ve ever had this year. It went away on it’s own before, but this time it led to infection on BOTH hands. It hurt to move them, even a little bit! Antibiotics eventually helped the infections, but the eczema stayed, of course. I couldn’t hold a pen or spoon or anything without bad pain and itching and the feeling like my hands were on fire. The skin on all my fingers and half of both my palms completely peeled off. The whole thing flared up again in the middle of November even worse on brand new skin, just after it looked like my hands would finally be healing. It was a nightmare!
In the last week of November I finally got an appointment with a good dermatologist who prescribed me a strong corticosteroid ointment that worked fairly quickly, and actually gave the skin on my hands a chance to heal! For 2 weeks thought, I couldn't live without Vaseline. My hands constantly needed a layer of Vaseline on them all the time, otherwise the second I start drying my hands off after washing them, they dried out so lightning fast that I was too afraid to move them much until I put Vaseline on them, practically while they're still damp. Vaseline is a lifesaver.
I have to admit, momentum was pretty much lost for my music projects for some time when I couldn't even use my computer to work on them, or write any ideas down for several weeks. It really sucked! I didn't know when this ordeal would be over, but now that my hands have healed, I can get back on track with my music work, as well as being able to be there for my family and being able to literally lend a hand or two when they need help with anything.
My future really IS in my hands...