Your Lucky Stars

Peggy reminds us that everyone is fighting battles and we need to remember to care.

About three years ago a weird red rash started appearing on the skin around my neck and shoulders. To be honest, it looked like ringworm—yikes. I started treating my skin with anti-fungal medicine, but the rash got worse. When I went to a dermatologist, he told me I didn’t have ringworm. I have granuloma annulare (GA for short), a benign skin condition that often affects women in midlife.

No one knows what causes GA, and it has no cure. Localized GA often goes away after a year or two. But generalized GA, which can spread across your body, may never go away. Guess what I have? Yep, and over the past three years, I’ve watched these red spots appear all over the place—thankfully not on my face. My friends say it doesn’t look bad and tell me I’m too self-conscious about it. But I can’t help feeling ugly with these red splotches everywhere.

The good news is it doesn’t itch, so as far as disorders or diseases, I should be thankful that GA doesn’t impact my health. The bad news is the condition is very rare, so clinical studies are few and far between and there’s no cure in sight. I’m a member of a Facebook support group for GA sufferers. We come from all corners of the world, and we’re all races and ages (even a few kids). We commiserate and support each other and wish and hope and pray someday a cure will be found.

So why I am I telling you this? I guess to remind you to have empathy for people who are going through health struggles and to offer support and friendship to people who are suffering from chronic conditions. We all know people who are experiencing health issues—both physical and mental—and sometimes they feel hopeless and alone. Take some time this month to reach out to someone who’s troubled by ill health and offer to run an errand or cook a meal. You’ll both feel better.

I sometimes wonder how many of today’s health problems are related to the chemicals that have become so prevalent in daily life. They’re everywhere: in our food, our shampoo, our laundry soap. You might recall last month’s article about the safety of household products. (If you missed it, read it online.) It’s astonishing to me how lackadaisical our government is in testing the safety of the chemicals that we put on our skin and in our mouths.

For example, one chemical called glyphosate is applied to oats to dry them out before being harvested and processed into, for example, the Cheerios on your breakfast table—all because the farmers don’t want to wait two weeks for the oats to dry naturally. Instead they spray them with glyphosate—a chemical that’s linked to cancer. Who knows what kinds of illnesses and diseases can be linked to unsafe chemicals?

So I’m starting to pay more attention to the safety of the household products I use. I’m eating more whole foods and buying organic groceries. It may be too late to resolve my skin problem, but I feel better knowing that fewer chemicals are getting in my bloodstream.

It’s pretty sad that there aren’t more safeguards in place, but as consumers we do have choices. Let’s choose to avoid putting unhealthy things in our mouths and on our bodies. And if you’re lucky enough to have good health, thank your lucky stars and lend a hand to someone less fortunate. Have a healthy month!

Peggy Sijswerda

Tidewater Women Magazine, Editor & Co-Publisher.

Website: www.peggysijswerda.com
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