Fleet Feet, Marshmallow Mascots, and Embarrassment…

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Having never been an athlete (or even close to it) I never paid any attention to stores catering to that specific clientele. I assumed it would be a room full of very slim, attractive people jogging in place or stretching in impossible ways, eating celery, and talking about fat people. As I fall into the fat people category, that did not seem like a place I should visit. I have only been “running” a couple months, off and on, and at a very slow pace. More like, walking at varying speeds with the occasion quick shamble thrown into the mix. I’m not an athlete. I’m barely a human. So those stores are most certainly not for me.

Mancandy used to be in the Marines. He’s further along in his running journey than I am. He assumes he belongs anywhere. And he got it into his mind that he needed a running shoe. Apparently, all athletic shoes are not running shoes. Runners are athletes. But athletic shoes are not for all the athletes. I guess. Which makes sense really, I just hadn’t thought of it.

Whilst running (or, shambling, which is a better description) my shins have been killing me. I assumed shin splints, talked to a couple runners, read a few articles, and then just accepted my shins would be angry. I didn’t really think much of it. New shoes were mentioned but I had zero intentions of buying shoes specifically made for runners. They are pricey and I’m not really a runner. I don’t know what I am (a shambler…a randomly spirited walker….a wheezer), but looking at other runners and then looking at me will very quickly make that fact apparent.

Mancandy insisted we needed to go into Fleet Feet. I’d never even heard of the place. The name alone obviously wasn’t going to call one such as I. But being a supportive idiot, I went in.

Full disclosure, I did not want to. While I admire anyone who is confident and comfortable with their size/body/abilities/disabilities, I am not there. My body is just a thing. I don’t like it. I don’t really think about it if I can avoid it. And while I will never be a pixie little waif of a woman (which is some serious bullshit as I would LOVE to be a tiny petite ballerina looking thing) I could be more comfortable and healthier. So…running. But, I generally do this alone, under the cover of darkness, so no one can see my inability to move gracefully.

All that to say, the perfect beautiful people munching celery are not my people. And I was quite sure they are a judgy clan. Pretty, perfect-skinned, hairless athletes just waiting for a fat chick in sale rack non-running athletic shoes to mistakenly cross their threshold. My palms started to sweat walking across the lot. Entering the store, there was a whiteboard set up asking guests to sign in. Mancandy wandered off. I blinked, explained to the intimidating salesperson that I was not there for a try on so we didn’t need to sign in, and scuttled after Mancandy. If I made it apparent I knew I didn’t belong maybe they wouldn’t judge as harshly. I poked at shoes whose brands I’d never heard of, cooed over really soft, thick flip flops until seeing the price tag, and tried to appear appropriately shameful of myself.

Eventually, Mancandy decided he DID want to try on shoes (which made me panic as we had not signed up on the whiteboard as we’d been asked). The same intimidating sales person walked up and I immediately threw him under the bus saying I’d TOLD him to sign in and he was the trouble maker. He ignored me and started discussing shoes. It became apparent quickly that she knew what she was talking about, he did not, and this pleased me. Until she asked what I was wearing. I muttered “Fila” and got the look. She told us to sit down. She brought shoes for Mancandy. They talked.

I tried to will myself to stop stress sweating. And blushing. Why was I blushing? Who knows. My body reacted to the stress in the most annoying ways possible. I sat with my offending shoes tucked as far under my body as I could get them and tried to be invisible.

Once Mancandy had decided on his shoes they both turned to look at me. I blinked back. Our salesperson asked if I would please take my shoes and socks off and roll my pant legs halfway up my calf. I blinked again. I asked if I could come back another time. She said I could not. I tried again, I was not prepared for this and my feet were stress sweating and my legs were so pale I am basically translucent and my eczema is bad right now so I don’t even know when I last shaved my legs and at this point, I’m drenched in sweat and tomato red.

Also, because stupid Mancandy and stupid perfect skinned salesperson are continuing to try to convince me, I’ve become the center point of attention in the store. If you have ever been suddenly aware of people’s attention, it has weight. You can tell. And everyone in the store was looking at me. Athletic, hairless sales person calmly shoots down my “excuses” and other than storming out and causing a scene, I had no choice. So I took off my shoes, peeled off my sweaty socks, and stood on a machine thing with my not at all pretty or perfect legs sticking out.

I wanted to ugly cry. Everyone was looking. And many of the things I find repulsive about myself were on display. I absolutely abhor being the center of attention and all these strangers (most of whom with slender, runner people physiques) were looking at me.

The freaking machine wouldn’t work. I stood there, on display, sweating and trying not to throw up, for ages. She finally took pity on me and had me use some sort of little metal thing they used when I was a child. She let me unroll my pant cuffs and hide more of myself. I could breathe a little easier. I walked up and down the store, she and Mancandy discussed my shin issues, and just focused on not throwing up.

Three different types of shoes were brought out. The first two were pretty, sleek looking things. They felt like normal shoes. The third pair were unattractive, boxy-looking things with huge soles compared to the other shoes I’d tried on. She explained they would absorb more impact and keep my shins from being so sore. I was too embarrassed and upset to argue, so I tried them on. And made an involuntary “Oooooooooo” sound. They were so soft and comfy. She boxed the other two up, took the try-on socks she’d had me use back (her pretty, long-fingered hands casually touching the super sweaty socks….more embarrassment), and told me they’d need to be replaced in 6 months.

I keep shoes until they fall apart. So, that seemed ridiculous. They were expensive. Then she gave me the parting shot. This particular shoe’s mascot is a running marshmallow. What she did not say but the entire store must have been thinking, I was the embodiment of their mascot. Humiliating, but it tipped the entire experience into the land of farce for me and I was able to laugh a little bit.

There was no way to explain any of that to Mancandy. He’s one of the most self-assured, confident people I’ve ever met. Much to my annoyance most of the time. But I did make sure to go tell my buddy from work who runs insane distances. She told me about ambassadors for the brand, they send you shoes and you wear them and I’m assuming represent them on social media and whilst running. Obviously, I should be the ambassador for this brand.

Hoka, where are you at? I am your marshmallow! I mean, no one ever sees me run, but I could be your ambassador convincing all the scared, shy plump little peoples to run! Have your people call my people.

Also, in the next edition of embarrassing stories I shouldn’t tell but do, other people’s children gave me a stomach bug and I’m still terrified to run(ish). That seems like a recipe for more embarrassment. But, if it goes poorly, it will be a good story for those who enjoy laughing at others.

 

 

 

Swollen Face Holes

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Summer lasts much too long. I’ve always thought that. But now that I’m randomly started to break down in my thirties, I’m sure of it. After a random conversation with my mother (who is the only person on the planet patient enough to listen to my whining about this for well over a year now) about my randomly swollen and super freaking itchy bottom lip (everyone likes to look like they’ve been punched) and left ring finger (just…why!?) I figured I should share all my lessons with the world.

Random Things I’ve learned:

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  1. Certain body parts are hard to itch. I’m not one of those people that can ignore an itch. And there is no itch quite like eczema. I routinely tear my skin to shreds. It’s my superpower. However, just because you’ve never had an itch to end all itches on your eyelid or lower lip or fingertip, doesn’t mean they can’t itch. They can. With the power of all the fire ants in the world. And there is literally NO good way to itch these places. When they aren’t itching I know you probably shouldn’t itch them anyway, but when things get really bad I don’t care about should and shouldn’t. I care about tearing off the itchy parts so I can sleep. Go ahead and think of all the really sensitive or oddly shaped parts of your body. Imagine all the mosquitos and fire ants had a convention on that part. And try to figure out how you’d scratch it. Then teach me.

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  1. Doctors get brutal. I have a lovely endocrinologist, sincerely. She’s wicked smart and funny. She’s an exercise nut and looks great. She has been instrumental in helping me feel like I’m finally getting on the right track with my health. I’ve been on several medications that have made me feel SO much better. However, part of what I want, and what she wants, is weight loss. This last appointment she walked in, looked at my chart, and asked how things were. I went on about how much better I felt, that my symptoms were starting to ease off a bit, that I felt like I had some control for the first time in a very long time. She nodded. Looked me dead in the eyes after I just professed my thanks to her for helping me so much. And said, “Yeah, but you haven’t lost any weight at all.” First off, rude. Second off, I was thanking you! I was right in the middle of “you’re the best!” Now, what am I supposed to do? Take that back? “You were the best until you said that, now you’re a butthole.”
  2. No one wants to hear you whine. I mean, no one wanted to when you were a kid either. But you were too stupid to notice your parents were just tuning you out. I want to whine constantly. I want someone to put a cool washcloth on my forehead and “there there” me sometimes. Instead, now that I’m an adult, everyone wants me to use coconut oil or essential oils to cure everything. Foot hurts? Oil up that bad boy! Hair falling out? Essential oils mixed in coconut oil and left on the scalp for 352.3 hours every night will fix you right up! Entire body itching like a demon-possessed mange victim? Peppermint and eucalyptus essential oil mixed into extra virgin NON PRESSED coconut oil, mixed in a quartz bowl that has been charged by a full moon, waller around in your tub until you’re slicked up like a porpoise and frolic around without a care in the world. 1. Coconut oil doesn’t cure much of anything. At all. Sorry. 2. Essential oils stink. Again, I’m sorry, but it needed to be said. 3. Applying stinky oil to my skin does nothing but make me angry, stinky, and itchy. And also prone to slipping and breaking. I’m falling apart. The hips are going next. I just want to whine about the fact it’s impossible to adequately scratch yourself without people on the bus thinking you have a disease. Which you do. But still. You know what I’m saying here.

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Now what does any of this have to do with summer? Which was my first whine of this thing? Summer = sweat and sun. I sweat like a man. It’s super attractive I’m sure, but I break a sweat real freaking quick. And fun fact, sun exposure and sweat make an itchy soul itch that much worse. I’m basically hiding inside trying to avoid sweating at all costs. In Nashville. In August. It’s impossible! Here’s to aging. It’s a blast so far.

Medications and Plagues sent by God.

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Dramatic title, I know, but I’m feeling dramatic today.

This won’t apply or resonate with everyone, but in case you are struggling with Atopic Dermatitis, Eczema, Eucresa, steroids, or Dupixent, I figured I’d throw my personal experience into the mix and maybe give someone a heads up or a “you’re totes normal” for moral support.

Eczema (atopic dermatitis) is something a lot of people struggle with, but for the most severe cases it often starts in childhood. I am lucky that that was not the case for me. I had a severe flare up in high school that was treated and went into remission for years. It wasn’t even diagnosed as eczema. Many years later I worked in a lab setting and had to wear latex gloves. My hands started to react and I was diagnosed with eczema, told to avoid latex, and given steroids that took care of the issue. Lately, I had a couple small spots that wouldn’t heal and those small spots suddenly led to a large flare up.  So I went back to the doctor (under the impression this was not a big deal and the fix would be simple and quick). I was put on prednisone and Eucrisa. Due to the history they suggested Dupixent. I still had no idea how bad it could be. There was a mix up with the Dupixent prescription and I went off the prednisone. The flare-up was like a literal fire that has been given a strong wind to stoke it. My entire body flared, the only portion of me that didn’t have some sort of lesion was my feet. There was no sleeping, showers were a misery, I wore black to hide the fact most of my body was raw and bloody and it soaked through my clothes regularly, and I battled what I’m guessing was situational depression. I was absolutely miserable and had no relief, it was a constant horrible sensation.

Since that time I’ve done quite a bit of research and have fought multiple battles with the doctor’s office. I don’t know why my experience with atopic dermatitis has been atypical, and I still have no idea what my triggers are (aside from gloves which I do not come into contact with anymore). I have been giving myself injections of Dupixent for about 2 months now and while I’m by no means in full remission, I was able to wean myself off of the steroids and use Eucrisa only in my worst problem areas.

I do have side effects with Dupixent and have been blundering through trying to find ways to cope. Today I’m actually home instead of at work because my side effects are too severe to go in. Hopefully, tomorrow will be better. Now, as with any medication, not everyone will have side effects, and if you do they may not be the same as mine. But if you do have side effects, and you’re looking for relief, hopefully, some of these tips will help.

  • Eye irritation (conjunctivitis, pink eye, etc.). Some people have this to a severe degree but mine has been limited to a couple days after the injection thus far. The optometrist recommended Refresh Advance eye drops and gel drops. Eye drops at least 4 times a day and gel drops before bed as they make your vision fuzzy. Both are otc. They’re magic.
  • Skin irritation around the eyes (especially eyelids and under eye areas). This area is never going to go back to normal, I’m pretty sure. The skin stays extremely swollen and looks kind of like elephant skin. The crease in my eyelids breaks open occasionally and that’s always a good look. The skin goes from weepy and oozy to dry and crusty. It does not look attractive. I have come to love Vanicream. Walgreens has a pound tub of it with a pump. I smear that on until I can’t open my eyes and let it soak in. I stopped using Eucrisa in that area because the burning had become so severe I just can’t deal with it anymore. And I’m not a wimp, I don’t mind a little stinging, but this would take my breath away and make me want to vomit. So I’m sticking with Vanicream.
  • Headaches behind the eyes. These aren’t migraine strength but have the tendency to turn into migraines if I don’t deal with them quickly. I’m an Excedrin migraine girl, even with normal headaches, but any sort of pain med would probably work.
  • Irritation of my lips. The corners of my mouth split open, kind of like the joker. While this would happen with eczema it seems the Dupixent makes it impossible to clear it up completely.
  • General blah feeling. It goes away within a few days and isn’t a deal breaker. Honestly, despite not enjoying these side effects, none of them are deal breakers. Things were so bad before I’ll take whatever.

 

Other useful items: Cetaphil facial soaps, creams, etc. These aren’t quite thick enough for the irritation I have going right now but they’re lovely under makeup and as a maintenance item. Masks you can stick in the fridge or microwave feel fantastic. The optometrist recommended the heated one to increase oil production into the tears you naturally produce, and the cooling feeling is delightful on the angry tissue around my eyes. Despite Youtube recommendations, most dermatologists don’t recommend elimination diets as it is rarely a food reaction causing the flare-ups.

It’s scary that there are so few options to deal with severe flare-ups, especially when I don’t know why it happened. I don’t want this to be my new normal, but I’m trying to roll with the punches and not let it affect my mood/outlook. If you have experienced any of this feel free to weigh in. It helps to know you aren’t alone.