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OFF THE ORAL STEROIDS AND BRACING MYSELF

July 28, 2015

WARNING: A couple very real graphic photos ahead.

I’m bracing myself—I’m nervous. I’m scared.

Why haven’t I posted any eczema statuses recently? I’ve been on drugs for the past month and a half!

After months of mostly following a strict diet and skin care routine, I had hope for improvement back in April. Then suddenly in May areas that were never itchy before (such as the tops of my feet and my belly) started getting rashes yet I hadn’t changed anything in my daily routines. By June my skin was so thin that it seemed if I scratched anywhere, the area would weep a clear liquid for the next few hours. Areas like behind my knees kept weeping despite my not touching it. I had crusts of dried liquid forming behind my legs. This went on for a couple weeks.

During a visit home, my family doctor saw my legs and immediately ordered me to take a bleach bath (which helps kill bacteria) as well as take Prednisone (an oral steroid) and an anti-inflammatory medicine (forgot the name) for two weeks. I already felt miserable and defeated I didn’t care what he gave me.

My Prednisone meds and me-- it makes me sleep peacefully and feel beautiful and confident. Alas... but not a long-term relationship

My Prednisone meds and me– it makes me sleep peacefully and feel beautiful and confident. Alas… but not a long-term relationship

After two weeks the meds dried up and my eczema returned with vengeance. Worse—my face was now affected… I can’t hide my face! My cheeks, eyelids, and jaw line were dry and red. I wanted to vanish into the earth when a young grocery clerk at my Oriental Market looked at me and exclaimed, “You’re sun burnt!” Indeed- my whole body looked toasted and my skin was thicker and drier.

In addition, the weeping had returned. Plus a musky smell started wafting from my skin occasionally mixed in with a vinegar-like odor. My skin was flaking off so much I brought a mini vacuum to work so I could clean the surrounding carpet twice a day. And– was this related?—no temperature felt right. I was shivering in 90-degree weather yet my skin bordered feverish to the touch.

I begged an appointment with my Allergist who discovered I had a MRSA staph infection. He agreed with my Family Doctor and placed me on Prednisone again as well as something to fight the infection. Once again my skin responded almost immediately yet I have continued to be very, very itchy. But at least I’ve stopped flaking, turning red, and weeping.

But the Prednisone ran out two days ago.

Dry and thick skin everywhere.

Dry and thick skin everywhere.

I was told the drug should stay in my system for a while, but why has my itchiness increased three-fold since yesterday? Around my neck and chest my skin has already changed in thickness, texture, and color. But worse are the feelings of sadness and self-consciousness beginning to creep back in.

What’s happening to me? I’ve made so many changes to my lifestyle yet none of it seems to be working. In fact—I’ve been doing much worse than all my 29 years of living with eczema.

I’m bracing myself. I can do this. I have another appointment with my Allergist coming soon—I just have to hang in there and stay the course.

HISTORIC BIKE TOUR THROUGH ST. PETE

July 22, 2015

I was tired of listening to Tampa’s history. I’ve learned about the former lives of The Castle night club, Post Office, grave sites, etc… but I’m from nearby St. Petersburg. I’m more curious about the past lives of MY stomping grounds.

Parked at the Shuffleboard Courts

Waiting for the Ride to begin at the Shuffleboard Courts

So when the History Bike Tampa group decided to temporarily switch their operations from Tampa history to St. Pete history last Saturday I leapt (pedaled?) at the chance.

About 100 cyclists of all shapes and sizes gathered at the Shuffleboard Courts (a historical venue itself built in 1924 and continues to be a photogenic icon of the city) where we met our leaders for the ride. And… soon we were off! Entire lanes were filled with our colorful waves before we stopped just outside Bayfront Hospital.

The theme for that day was ‘mounds’- and a glimpse into the lives of the natives who created them. The purpose of the mounds have been debated; from trash (those Fried Gator bones have to go somewhere) to foundations for important buildings (applying for canoe licenses). Not only was Bayfront sitting on a former mound but it was once named ‘Mound Park Hospital.’

Next, the stretch south on MLK Blvd wasn’t a fun ride because of the many cars streaming by within feet of my tires. Yet I enjoyed looking at all the community restaurants and shops we passed because I barely travel this area.

Waiting at Boyd Hill

Relaxing in the shade at Boyd Hill

Brief stops at Lake Maggiore Park and Boyd Hill allowed us to take water breaks, stretch our legs, and use the restrooms. As we biked through a nearby neighborhood, out of nowhere a tiny park appeared housing another mound. The Calusa Indian Mound (also Pinellas Point Mound) permitted visitors to climb stairs to the top (less than 20 feet high). Nearby signs revealed the mound’s violent history in 1549 as a travelling Dominican Friar was clubbed to death on the site.

Climbing Pinellas Point Mound

Climbing Pinellas Point Mound

Later we entered another small park inside the tree-shaded, very pretty neighborhood of Driftwood. The leaders pointed out another mound except it was hidden behind a house. Apparently there’s way more mounds dotting Pinellas County than we could fit on a bike tour. It was eye-opening to see history resting in plain sight.

The Historic Bike Tour through St. Pete took almost three hours. We travelled almost 14 miles and I kept an average speed of 7pm—this was a very casual ride with enough breaks in between; excellent for children and elderly. The leaders were professional and energetic although one of the historian speakers was a bit awkward and giggly during delivery—probably nervous at presenting.

Whether you catch this group in Tampa or meet them when they return to St. Pete I totally recommend taking a tour. It’s only a $5 donation and I guarantee you’ll see areas in a new light. It’s a great way to explore… and you’re on a freakin’ bike getting fresh air! Worth it.

TASTY FRUIT TASTING CHAIN OF EVENTS

July 19, 2015

I remember plucking Calamansi with my sisters from the tree outside my bedroom. The little round citrus had a sharp, tart bite like a lemon and we’d squeeze it over Noodle dishes. Other times my Mom would harvest the thin Malungay branches from our tree in the yard and have us peel the leaves off for a soup .

I’ve always known that when I become a homeowner, I want a tub in the bathroom… and the ability to grow edible plants. This dream kept playing through my mind as Friend Dena and I stepped amidst all the large potted trees at Jene’s Tropical for their annual Fruit Tasting event.

We had arrived on the promise of ‘free tasting of many exotic fruits’– the event did not disappoint. Friend Dena and I toothpicked our way through the tables sporting chopped Mangoes, Jackfruit, Papaya and all their brothers and sisters. I’ll admit my fruit ignorance; I can’t recognize a Guava from a Mulberry. As such even though they were labeled I had no idea what were some of the fruit I tasted but I’ll assume Kent, Bailey’s Marvel, and Glenn are Mango variations among others. Inside the main building I watched as the ladies cut up little Eggrolls and plated them. Once I heard them speak Tagalog I was thrilled because that meant the dish on the plates were really Turon– a Philippine dish consisting typically of Bananas wrapped in Eggroll wrappers and deep fried. It was a taste of home.

The actual tasting wasn’t time consuming so we wandered the grounds and admired all the potted plants for sale– especially its fruit trees and herbs. My mental list for a homeownership yard now includes a Mango Tree, Basil and Cilantro.

Craft Kafe dishes

[Left] Apple Yogurt Pie [Right] Cortada… all from Craft Kafe in St. Petersburg, FL.

Perhaps nibbling all the fruit made us feel healthy so we continued this kick by stepping into the nearby Craft Kafe where (my heart rejoices) EVERY DISH is gluten free. Obviously my Cortado and Salad fell into this category, but so did the BBQ Duck Sandwich as well as the slice of Apple Yogurt Pie. They even offered homemade Pizza and Gelato. Besides the fresh-tasting noms, we also admired the very inviting and artsy space where Salad leaves grew vertically on one side of the walls, Kyoto Drips were displayed on one side, and there was a great view of the kitchen. Oh my oh my if this place was any closer to my home I’d soon become poor.

All the deliciousness that had entered my stomach today so inspired me that upon going home, I decided to try my hand at creating gluten free / sugar free (nut and dairy free of course) Oatmeal Cookies.

While it’s still too early to say whether they’ve turned out delicious or not, I’m glad to know my quest to rid myself of eczema by eating healthier (like it says here) doesn’t have to taste bad. In fact– there’s something about natural flavors that’s much tastier than I-can’t-pronounce-any-of-these-ingredients filled dishes. And all these motivations today came from merely agreeing to visit a Fruit Tasting event.

SCAVENGER HUNT TOUR: WASHINGTON D.C. — SPECIAL PROPOSAL

July 2, 2015

Dear readers, I have a very good excuse for being M.I.A.

A fancy restaurant? An exclusive tour? A visit with distant relatives? All BF Shoes told me was to keep the Monday of our Washington D.C. trip free.

Nothing could bring me down during this vacation. So when BF Shoes presented me with the first clue for a Scavenger Hunt he created, I was already thrilled. That Monday would lead us to new places around the nation’s capital.

Awwww how freakin’ cute you may say. True, true– it melted my heart. Awww how freakin’ suspicious you might also add. No, not at all. This type of thing was just another act of love. After 2.5 years of Geocaching, hiking off-beaten paths, chasing hidden treasure, or even sending “missing you” hand drawn comics to each other I never tired of it. This was another chance to share a cool experience with my BF! Where’s my bike?

But the day went horribly wrong! It didn’t go according to MY mind’s plan. Ah haha just kidding. It went BETTER than I’d hoped. I recorded most of the time and… wait… how about I stop typing and you just watch it yourself.

Secretly I’m further enamored of BF Shoes by the WAY he proposed- very fitting of our relationship. (Bwahaha I swear if he had merely asked via pretty surroundings or during a fancy dinner I would’ve questioned why he didn’t ‘go beyond his comfort zone’ for us… ah ha you see my thoughts on those type of proposals)

I am honored, proud, thrilled; ARGH it’s very difficult to be a wanna-be writer and have words be inadequate for describing a feeling. My heart is bursting but not all its thoughts are making it to my fingers. I am ready to grow old and chase wheelchairs with this funny, talented, intelligent, and awkwardly likable guy. I can’t wait to wake up to his face, burn a dinner in the oven, or give him hair cuts… happily forever.

My nickname for him can’t be ‘BF Shoes’ anymore… what should I do?

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Dear readers– I know it seems I was just writing about New Orleans a short while ago. How did I get to Washington D.C.? This new chapter in my life has temporarily disrupted many things, but please allow me to celebrate and meditate on these awesome blessings that have suddenly taken over. I am happy to share this moment with you and please pray for my relationship as I only hope it grows stronger from here on out.

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