Having regained my normal mobility in as early as month 3 of my official topical steroid withdrawal, I’ve developed some fears or phobias unique to my situation. These are my 3 biggest fears:
1) Fear of “not-moving”
Topical steroid withdrawal symptoms were highly debilitating. I remembered days and weeks of not wanting to move, because the simple act of moving is associated with hurt and pain. I had the fear of moving then.
My neck had it worse. It was constantly raw, flaky, oozy. Every time I turned my head, it hurt. Every time I responded to someone, it hurt. I had to move like a zombie from point to point, in order to minimize pain.
The back of my knees and calves were another issue. Simply stretching out your leg split my skin. Every bedtime was trouble. I had to place my legs in an uncomfortable and unnatural position so that my raw skin would not have contact with the bedsheets. I hoped for a movement-less sleep, which was near impossible. Every roll on the bed meant new contact with my raw, oozy skin, which equates to more pain and distress.
When I managed to get a solid handle of my skin condition (thanks to MW), and regained some form of mobility, I wanted so badly to move about in order to forget about my debilitation state.
I started playing soccer near towards the end of month 3 of my withdrawal. There were still open wounds, mostly dry, and plenty of patches of “stained” patchy looking skin. I wanted to sweat it out, reboot my cardio system, and hopefully sweat my way out of TSW.
I started jogging, then running, then doing body weight exercises whenever I could. It has continued from month 3 (Jan) till today. I’d take walks often and enjoy them. I’d shop for hours with my partner and not complain when my feet hurts. I’d choose to work out unless I had muscle fatigue from DOMS. I may be over-compensating for my debilitation I experienced, but I don’t mind a single bit. I developed a fear of “not-moving”. Simply because of TSW, I understand that good health is something that you have to work hard to achieve, and being able to move is a sign of good health.
I do not, ever, want to go back to where I was previously – bed ridden, sluggish, zombie-like. And I’ll work hard to maintain the status I have currently.
2) Fear of missing out
I missed out on so many things during my TSW because I could not do them: activities that I loved doing, food that I loved eating, events that I’d like to go and etc.
Now, I just want to do stuff, while I can.
Going through TSW gave me the perspective that one should not take the ability to do basic stuff (moving, functionality, conversing, speaking, listening, seeing) for granted.
Life is short, so experience as much as possible, while you can.
One day you will be ill and bed-ridden. Tick tock, tick tock, your time is running out. Make meaningful use of your time starting from now.
3) Fear of unknown iatrogenics
If I had known of the severe side effects of topical steroids, this blog would never have existed.
Now, I think about iatrogenics constantly: every activity I do, every food I eat, every supplement I take, even every text I type.
The reality is that everything has their upsides and downsides, pros and cons, risks and benefits. Running can help build stronger muscles and skeletons, but they also wear out your ligaments. Using moisturizers can give you comfort, but they can change the structural integrity of your skin. Eating stuff gives you energy, at the expense of tissue oxidation that damages our cells.
I was less concerned about all these before TSW, but post TSW, I’m more attuned and savvy towards understanding risks.
The key is to minimize risk and maximize rewards. It is always easy when the risks are well documented. The trouble occurs when there are unknown risks or iatrogenics. It is known that negative trials are rarely published in research/clinical trials. Thus a potential source of information is just not available to the public. As consumers, we face advertisements of products that have skewed representation of their benefits, with little to none given to their risks. Most of the times, consumers take supplements based on the product’s face value, without little consideration of “what could go wrong”.
And it is this unknown risks that worries me, sometimes a little too much. But thanks to TSW, it is a lesson learnt. I will not make the same mistake twice.
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I see these fears as something good to have, something to keep me on my toes so that I won’t fall back to where I was before. Fear can be a very strong motivating factor when put to good use.
Have you developed any new fears through the course of your TSW?