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Archive for the ‘Eczema’ Category

Someone, I can’t remember who, asked me recently if I had a signature dish. My immediate response was yes, of course, it is my incredible vegan lasagne. Following some searches on the internet I recently found out that unfermented soya (e.g. soya milk, tofu, t.v.p.) is probably about the worst thing someone with eczema can put into their body, so one of my main ingredients for said signature dish was cruelly wiped off the menu forever. Well, not that cruel, let’s face it, t.v.p. is hardly the tastiest thing in the world, just something cheap I used to fill up the space in the lasagne tray. Incidently, since avoiding soya and bread for a week my eczema has almost cleared up which, as you can imagine, I am overjoyed about. Why did no one tell me before?

When faced with an evening in for New Years with two of the most important ladies in my life, I had only one viable option: to make the tastiest vegan lasagne in the world to delight their taste buds, warm their souls and make them love me just that little bit more. And make it I did, and love me more they only could.

It was so delicious that I am going to share the recipe with you now. For extra best results, use organic ingredients!

You will need for the

Filling

Passata
1 large onion
1 tin of chick peas (or equivalent dried mass, if you are organised)
1 tin of pinto beans (as above)
2 large flat mushrooms
1 medium squash, peeled and diced into small bits
2 medium beetroots, or one biggy
A liberal splash of balsamic vinegar
3 cloves of garlic, pulped
lots of fresh thyme
1 tablespoon carob syrup
salt, pepper, paprika
oil to fry

Process: Heat the oil and sprinkle in a tablespoon of paprika til really hot, then add the onion, fry. Then add the squash, mushrooms, beetroot. Continue to fry. Add the beans, fresh thyme, garlic, the liberal splash of balsamic vinegar and cook until it feels right. When that moment comes, pour in the passata and add the carob syrup, salt and pepper and let it simmer away til its yummy all the way through. Winter vegetables and squashes work so well in lasagne, don’t be afraid of using them!

Sauce

A generous tablespoon of sunflower spread
2 tablespoons of plain wholemean flour
Rice milk
1 teaspoon of vegetable boullion
1 generous tablespoon of peanut butter
Salt, pepper

Process: Melt the spread, when completely melted add flour and make a Roux (when I was smaller I thought a roux was called a ‘fut’). Add the rice milk in small increments and mix into the roux until you have a sauce. You need to be patient with white sauce (which is essentially what you will be making). Keep stirring it whatever you do and it will thicken, I promise. Add the peanut butter, the bouillion, salt and pepper and it will make the sauce yummy.

When this is done, you need to put the lasagne together. Oh, forgot to say, in the meantime, pre-heat the oven to 200c ready for you to put the delicious beast in. Put a layer of filling in the biggest and deepest dish you have in your collection, then add a bit of sauce, then a layer of lasagne. I used a verdi lasagne which was delish, so I recommend that for sure. Then repeat until you have no mix left. This should be enough to make about 3 layers.

For the final layer you need to make sure you leave enough sauce to completely coat the pasta on the top layer. On top of that, sprinkle sunflower or pumpkin seeds to make it all crunchy and hippy.

Then, whack it in your pre-heated oven for about 30-40 minutes, until the pasta is cooked all the way through, and I promise you, it will be the most delicious soya-free vegan lasagne you have ever tasted.

Serve with a salad of your choosing, but I always like a few olives, avocado, toasted seeds, red pepper, lettuce all covered in an olive oil and lemon dressing. Mmmmmmmmmmmm.

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Homeopathy, eczema, update!

Committed readers of this blog (ahem!) will be aware that I have been taking the homeopathic rememdy ‘Sulphur’ to try and manage my eczema condition. I have to say, those little pills really do work.

Although I am not completely eczema free (I’m still a bit scabby and if I sleep in your bed for a night I will probably bleed over the sheets), my embodied quality of life has improved no end. My neck for example, which previously was in a constant state of itchy inflammation is calm and does not hurt at all – at all! Every moment I touch my neck and it doesn’t hurt I feel this sense of relief and joy.

In my extreme states of frustration with having eczema, I often wished I had a new body. I would sit and cry and feel sorry for myself, paralysed with itchy grief. Now it seems I do have that new body I desperately wanted. The deep pain and shudders I used to experience everyday have gone. I can actually feel my body not hurting – it feels calm, rested, healthy.

Of course I am still applying the avocado oil to make the skin extra smooth, but even without it, my skin may be dry but it does not persistently ache. Hallejeula!

I don’t want to get complacent though, as for me winter is the time my eczema will be at its best because of the cold (being hot and hot weather makes me scratch!) The real test will be in the summer when it gets hot, to see if my quality of mobility can be maintained. Reports will follow.

In the meantime I am working myself up to my first enema – a good clean out of your intestines I have been reliably told is very good for chronic skin conditions. I am working up to this though, but I am sure it’s only a matter of time. Or maybe I can finally get to grips with linseed tea – a globby concoction that makes your skin all oily if drank consistently everyday. Giving up wheat is also on the agenda as this also can be bad for eczema.

The important thing is, from being in a totally desperate and suicidal state about living with this condition that seemed to never get better, heal or stop, I am position now where I feel like I have some control over it. I write this as words of hope for other sufferers, and invite people to share their eczema surviving stories with me here.

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Ever since my crazy eczema breakout in the summer when I was basically crippled for two weeks, I have been putting Avacado Oil on my skin after showering as a friend told me about it as a rememdy. What a revelation!

This weekend I was away and forgot to take my oil with me, thinking my trusted aqueous cream would see me through the trip. Luckily, my skin did not breakout, although I did notice how sterile and medical it felt after the luscious oily-ness of avacado oil which seems to both calm the skin and make it silky smooth.

In contrast, aqueous cream seemed like thick paint that my skin barely wanted to suck up. I will continue to use it in the shower as a substitute for soap, but its oil all the way for me now. So if you are suffering from eczema, get yourself a bottle of avacado oil and lather it on and enjoy touching your smooth skin.

On another point, I *think* that the homeopathic remedy I am taking – Sulphur – is having an effect. I have enjoyed homeopathy so far, if only for its quasi-counselling style, its engagement with emotions, spirituality and dreams. I have had two sessions and I can feel a shift in my bodily culture. It seems as if my body gets to that stage where it threatens to break out but instead of jumping off the cliff it retreats back. I feel safer in here at the moment, which I think is a major sign that something is happening.

I have also been having calmer nights sleep the past few nights. The past months – and in particular after taking the remedy – I exploded into night itch frenzy. It was interesting though, because for the first time I became aware of how the memories in my muscles are programmed to itch. Its like the way my body curls in on itself, the way it thinks it should be. I would be very interested to learn of muscular therapy which re-programmes memories/ reactions/ petit-traumas in the body, as I think this would be a valuable form of therapy to undergo after I have finished with homeopathy. I would like to make my muscles forget that scratching it what they ‘want’ to do.

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Part of the reason I wanted to start this blog was to create a space where i could write about having eczema. I thought this would be a therapeutic release for me, and might stop me from moaning all the time about it to my nearest and dearest. Already I’m feeling better.

The above photograph was taken after five nights of bad sleep while I was on holiday in Berlin. Aside from the acutely interrupted sleep, I had a great time, by the way.

Travelling with eczema is not easy. It exaggerates the problems with everyday movement that I usually struggle with, coupled with the worry of not being able to access the things I need to keep my skin under control such as a daily shower. I am sure this seems like a small thing, but for me is absolutely necessary for keeping my body in check. There is also the stress of imposing my skin problems on my hosts, for example by also keeping them awake at night with what my incessant itching. I wonder sometimes how people with eczema have intimate relationships, I especially wonder how my lovers put up with sleeping next to me voraciously itchy body.

I have called the image above ‘Self-Portrait’ to emphasise that although that skin no longer is attached to my body, it is still an important part of me. It would be tempting to say that the skin that the eczema sufferer continually brushes off their body is dead skin. However, I still feel attached to that skin. Before I photographed it, I put that skin between my fingers, I swear it still felt warm. It is fair to say that this skin has a life beyond that which is stuck to my body, or that my body literally extends beyond the boundary where people think that bodies begin and end. This was literally true as I shook my skin off the sheet outside the window of the flat I was staying in. There is a lot of me left in Berlin, at a material level.

Through the skin left on bedsheets, clothes I wear, environments I pass through and the keyboard on which i type this, I see and experience a separation of self and self. It provokes my thoughts as much as it makes me feel slightly ashamed. As a guest in people’s houses, I brush myself away hoping that people do not see that I am shedding profusely on their bedsheets. I badly try to hide my body freakery.

In this sense I know that my problems and anxiety with eczema is intimately bound up with my own disgust and embarrassment towards my body when it behaves like this (I have better patches where life is relatively normal, although at the moment I seem to be in an accelarated phase).

So part of my writing this is because I crave community around living with eczema because I feel incredibly isolated as much as I am supported with love by the people around me, so please get in touch if you also are prone to leaving a lot your skin in places in an involuntary fashion.

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