Finally settled in to Rumson NJ

Getting Old?

I swear my body started to fall apart when we moved to NJ. Since arriving at the Garden State, I’ve dealt with countless ear infections, broken toes, pinched nerves, shoulder impingement, strained muscles, acid reflux (the silent kind), eye infections, etc etc. I have been to more doctors in these past few years in NJ than I have been to in my entire life. Sigh. Definitely a sign that I am getting old.

It used to be that when I went in for blood tests, it was always with the expectation (hope) that the results would come back normal. For the first time in my life, I am hoping for a positive (abnormal) result from the blood samples I gave today.

After compiling a laundry list of issues I currently have with my skin, I finally made an appointment to see a dermatologist. With the exception of my rough hands and feet (which I’ve always had), I pretty much sailed through my teenage years without any major skin issues. Yes, I would get the occasional pimple, but that was about it. I seem to be paying for that luck now. No, I do not have acne, but I am turning red.

I was diagnosed with Keratosis Pilaris (KP) in San Francisco. To be absolutely correct, it is Keratosis Pilaris Rubra, the skin problem that makes it seem like the back of my arms and thighs are red. I don’t recall it being that bad in SF, but to be fair, the weather in SF did not usually lend itself to wearing short-sleeves, so it may be that I just didn’t notice it as often. Anyway, now that I live in a beach community, the ugly redness of my arms is quite noticeable and quite embarrassing. I’ve had more than one person remark that I should take care because the backs of my arms were getting sunburned. I’ve tried countless over-the-counter products, and nothing has really worked. I did find one product (Glytone) that helped diminish the redness a little, but it also increases my risk for sunburn…so it’s not the best product to use in the summer time.

In addition to the KP, I have recently been afflicted with Rosacea … that oh so fun skin disorder that makes your face/neck/chest flush hot and red. All through the winter months, I’ve either looked like I had a sunburn, or I was blushing, or I had too much alcohol (even if I hadn’t had a drop to drink) at any given time. I tried all sorts of creams, cold compresses, etc … but nothing worked.

In addition to the KP and Rosacea, I have also discovered one other annoying thing about my skin recently — my ability to sweat has greatly diminished. I was never one to sweat very much, but I used to be able to sweat…especially if I was exerting myself in the heat. I work out pretty hard at the gym two times a week and I try to jog 2-3 times a week. Even when I am panting from exertion, 99% of my body remains completely free of sweat. Instead, I turn bright red. As in lobster red. I actually start to overheat and get nauseous/dizzy because of my inability to sweat. While the redness due to my KP and Rosacea are cosmetic and embarrassing, the redness from my inability to sweat enough (the technical term is Anhidrosis) is distressing.

I went to my PCP last month and blood tests taken at the time ruled out a hormonal cause. She recommended that I see a dermatologist to rule out skin issues, and then perhaps see an endocrinologist. The dermatologist was able to rule out an skin conditions. She did, however, come up with a theory that would be absolutely BRILLIANT if it pans out. When she learned that I had also started taking medicine for acid reflux recently, she asked me if I was ever tested for the H. pylori bacteria. Uh, nope. She went on to explain that the H. pylori bacteria is a suspected culprit for acid reflux, and that there have also been tests showing a positive correlation with the bacteria and rosecea. I have since discovered that there is also a correlation between the bacteria and an auto-immune disease known as Sjogren’s Syndrome. One of the common symptoms of Sjogren’s Syndrome is anhidrosis. Could it be that this bacteria is the source of most of my problems???

Although the dermatologist cautioned me that the odds are quite low that I have this bacteria and that it is responsible for my skin/sweating issues, I am still somewhat hopeful that I may be one of those rare cases. If it turns out that all my issues ARE because of this bacteria, then — in theory — if we eliminate this bacteria we can resolve my other problems. Hence, my hope that this particular blood test comes back positive.

If it doesn’t come back positive, I will be heading off to the endocrinologist who will likely run more tests and tell me what every doctor has told me so far: your body changes when you get old. Sigh.

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