A year ago, last July 4th, a trip to a friend’s pool pushed my skin irritation over the edge. The dermatologist had called it likely psoriasis, and my knees were red, itchy and flaky. It was getting bad on its own, and I was already embarrassed to wear a suit at her pool, but after the chlorine, I reached a new level of ouch.
The rest of the summer, my knees looked so raw, I wore capris all the time. If I knelt on my knees with thin pants or, at home, shorts, they seemed to catch on fire. By the fall, I’d started scratching my knees compulsively a few times a day such that they bled. It was like an addiction with an endorphin rush. I’d tried everything topical I could think of — vitamin E, aloe, shea butter, calendula, msm, among others. Steroid cream hadn’t done much, either, certainly not enough to make me feel okay about the chemicals going into my body and possibly my son’s through nursing. There was an emotional toll on my son as well; he was learning to scratch himself as a nervous habit and also started coming up to scratch my knees as though he were helping me out. The pattern had to be broken.
On this Independence Day, I went back to the pool a changed woman. I was still scratching back in early April but now, other than a bruise, my knees look fine, even after the chlorine.
I could write a whole tome on this, but the short version is that my healing occurred, I believe, from work primarily on two levels: emotional/psychological/spiritual and physical (internal) with some assistance from external physical changes. I’ll list these in reverse order.
Physical – External
After trying so many products, I think these two actually made a difference:
- Epicurean Ebony Tar Shea Butter Soap
- Miessence Soothing Line Skin Essentials — cleanser, conditioner, lotion and also couperouse gel and mineral clay mask
Physical – Internal
My body is in a very different place than it was two years ago, a few months after my son was born. Among the recent changes are the following:
- A cleanse that included:
- Elimination of fruit and all processed food (including nut butter) and rice products for a short time, followed by limited quantities
- Daily juice of celery, parsley, garlic and lemon
- Lacto-fermented foods
- Sprouts and more raw and cooked vegetables
- Local pasture-raised eggs and more grassfed meat
- Overall more alkaline diet that includes kombucha with most meals
- Less frequent breastfeeding, less night waking
- Somewhat improved commitment to my yoga practice and increased attendance at yoga classes
- Regular exercise, including training for and running a half-marathon in June
- Physical therapy, acupuncture, craniosacral therapy, and Muscle Activation Technique (MAT) to heal from sprained ankle last August
Two years after my son’s birth, I started to reach a place of acceptance about my c-section and a sense that it’s not up to me to control everything in my life. Strategies that helped me on this journey include:
- Work with BioSET allergy elimination, Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), and Byron Katie’s The Work through the Center for Natural Cures
- Applied Kinesiology with chiropractic
- Work (reviewed) I previously did with Landmark Education
- Work with Bach flower essences, including Crab Apple, Gentian and Holly
- Work with Young Living Oils, including the blends Joy, Gentle Baby, and Valor
- Increased time writing
- Craniosacral therapy that included somato-emotional releases
- Reading (recalled) related to Buddhism, including Pema Chodron, and some meditation
- Reading (recalled) by Caroline Myss
I came to see that this health challenge was just part of a necessary process and that the itching would subside when it was time for me to be done with it. This skin problem was, at least in part, my way of processing my shame and guilt at having had to have a c-section, which gave me a sense of failure for not starting out my son’s life in the drug-free, gentle way I’d hoped. Part of the reason the c-section was so jarring for me had to do with a longstanding belief — a belief that has ancestral roots — in the idea that something always has to be wrong with me. Going to the source to address this core belief — through the strategies above — helped me release my hold on this problem and its hold on me.