The American me!

So recently I moved to the US, to a little town called Normal, Illinois (this photo was taken during my brief stay in Chicago).Well, not so recent now, I’ve knocked down a semester. It still seems recent, heck! IT IS recent. Lets put this lightly, I wasn’t prepared for the change. I was in no way prepared to leave Nigeria yet. I thought I was, but it turned out I was not and that really hit me so hard, it literally broke my heart.

The first few months seemed okay! why wouldn’t it? it was the summer! The months that followed not so much. It all started with a skin allergy. Before the winter set in, the weather got horrifyingly hot, I mean hotter than usual (even for a Nigerian). That was when I saw the first signs of what would become the worst days of my life.

Like most common skin allergies, it started with a patch and continued to grow. The doctors said “oh you’re just reacting to the change in weather, your system is adjusting” and we moved on. On my second doctor’s appointment, my entire trunk was covered in rashes. (Writing about this is making re-call and giving me some scaring goosebumps, but if this is what I have to go through to feel better? I will.) The doctors said it is following a pattern, “it is like a Christmas tree, it must be this or that”. I was given some meds, mostly anti-itch lotion and some sleeping pills (the itch was horrible, I couldn’t sleep at night).

On my third doctor’s appointment, the rash had grown out of scope, it was no longer “Christmas tree-shaped” but had gone ahead to my calf and covered my entire trunk. The doctors started looking into my meals and what not. “watch what you eat” they said or “don’t use scented products”, “change your laundry detergent”, “try to stick to foods you are already familiar with”. How is this even going to work? I’m an international student, it’s not like I can order food from Nigeria. I mean I could of course order from the African store around, but it is hella expensive! I’m barely earning a livable wage. So the doctors kept trying to figure it out.

Until I was finally referred to a dermatologist. Then my trips to the student health services became trips to the skin doctor. On my first visit, a minor surgery happened, before this time, I had done a little experiment of my own, (which I would share later on) and my rash was beginning to look better. A part of my skin cut off to run for tests, blood samples were taken blah blah blah! I was made to buy a very expensive lotion that keeps me hydrated. I would love to say thank God for insurance but I still had a lot of co-pay but not as high as it would have been without insurance, then I would be straight up paying-out-of-pocket!

The trips to the dermatologist became depressing even though they had a very handsome doctor whose face I wouldn’t mind seeing every day, but of course not in those circumstances.

I finally started getting better, what I didn’t know was whether it was the cream that made me better or the self-treatment. I had done a bit of research on my condition and saw something online which I tried! (bathing with anti-dandruff shampoo) It was amazingly helpful, dried up the rash almost instantly. I told my doctor at the student health services about my new discovery and she encouraged me to keep it up.

This  really did me wrong, as my confidence and self esteem almost died with the birth of the rash (this I would publish in a later post). The fact that I couldn’t concentrate at all, without a sting in one part of my body, or that I could not sleep at night despite the sleeping pills and during classes I was extremely tired.  Heck! I couldn’t even take a photo without a jacket on, I couldn’t help but wonder if I was seen as an outcast. The photo to the left was my cousin and I taking a photo, this was literally the first time I tried taking a photo without a jacket, if I took photos at all. I was staring at my skin like “do I really want to appear in a photo looking like this?”

My dermatologist now wants me to see him every three months for as long as God knows, to keep an eye on me and make sure that he identifies the triggers whenever they seem to show up.  I’m now working on being happy in my new skin and I am glad I took this photo, it shows my growth and how far I have come.




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