This time last week, I was coming from the most horrible night itching and holding my sheets off my skin with my hands and teeth, for the short time that I actually stayed in bed. I was debating whether to go to the doctor and fighting my unfounded concerns about visiting. That night I decided to apply the little bit of steroidal foam I had from an old dermatologist to my arms, neck, and shoulders, even though it wasn’t its intended purpose. I have been hoarding it because my old doctor and last allergist weren’t willing to give me a refill due to not having experience with it. I wanted to try a different steroid to change things up and see if a small amount of a different steroid would help more than the one I’ve been using for 8 months.
The next morning, I felt better than I had in a week. I called my doctor’s office and made an appointment for that afternoon. As I knew, but couldn’t make myself believe, I needn’t have worried. I drove down to the next city with my family. My last doctor was unknowledgeable and very unhelpful, and his clinic serves the entire county, so I looked beyond that when searching for a new one. That’s why my doctor isn’t exactly local to me. My current doctor is fantastic. He listened and was willing to refill all of my prescriptions, even the steroidal foam. I officially now have three topical medications: A foam for my scalp, Protopic for my face, and steroidal ointment for the rest of my body. He also gave me, at my request, an oral steroid I can take if I have another huge flare, with two refills so that I shouldn’t have to ask him for at least a year.
I have been struggling to buy the things I need to cope with my allergies. Last week I mentioned that I need to re-sew my shirt seams with cotton thread to get rid of the polyester that’s been causing me major problems in my armpits and around my neck. Cotton thread is at least five times the price of polyester when you’re buying cones for the serger. I also need coats, more socks, underwear, a blanket for the bed, and other items that are pretty pricey when you need them synthetic-free. When I asked my doctor about whether there was any financial help available for people with allergies, he said that filing for disability was a very long shot (which I figured), but that he was willing to fill out the paperwork if I really wanted him to. I decided to hold off for now. He suggested that he could write me a note for tax purposes so that these synthetic-free items would be considered by law a medical necessity (because they really are). It was unfortunate that there wasn’t anything else to that could be done, but I will take what help I can get. My doctor is awesome. I also talked to the receptionist, and she finally has space for my family to join me with my family doctor. I am so happy I won’t have to see my old doctor ever again.
At home, I put on a cotton bathrobe inside out, so that none of the seams would touch me. I am thankful that I’ve had the freedom to do that. I used the steroid foam three more times, once a day, and wore a cotton terry robe (I have two) every day for the rest of the week. I decided to avoid the oral steroid for now because I was seeing such noticeable improvement. My armpit rash is finally gone, after a year of itching and swollen armpit lymph nodes. My eyelids, arms, scalp, and neck didn’t bother me again until today, and I think that’s because I wore a t-shirt (not converted to cotton seams) for short periods yesterday and today to Skype with someone.
Is everything perfect? No. I still need to find (a LOT of) time to convert my shirts and historical undergarments. I’ll have to wear those historical ones inside out for a while. I have been less active than usual because the bathrobes are extra warm. I’m also afraid of getting the loose sleeves and excess fabric of the robes dirty, especially when I need to work with some chemicals for my project. I obviously can’t continue wearing the bathrobe indefinitely. For now, I feel healthier, and that’s big. I’m searching for safe garments and home textiles so that I can buy them while the doctor’s note is in effect. I’ve had more success with that than I did in September (more on those items soon). Things are looking up.
Does your country/state/province give any assistance for people with contact allergies? Comment below.