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Art as Catharsis – Chronic Idiopathic Urticaria

CIU and Steroids

I used to do yoga and meditate. I used to preach to other people about how helpful it was. I remember that once I was regularly meditating, I could return to a meditative state of mind effortlessly and immediately felt the benefits. I felt the stress flow away with every breath.

I really should get back into the practice. Shoulda-Coulda-Woulda! I am too busy. I have read that if you are too busy to meditate, you need it most of all. I know. I bet you’ve read that too. Easier said than done.

If you read my posts, you probably are some sort of artist or are of that mindset. You find solace in creation. So, THIS is our outlet for stress. Art is an amazing stress reliever. I can think of nothing that refreshes me quicker than getting in that zone, juggling and struggling in the process. “Will it succeed? Is this piece about to fail? Why did I just make that mark? Oh! Maybe it will work. It DOES work! Look at that. It is all coming together. Hooray! Wow! I made that!” What a feeling!

Right now I am only finding a chunk of time to paint about every two weeks. You might see my daily posts on Instagram and Facebook, but that footage and those painting are all created every other Saturday morning when the kids are at the grandparents.

But here is the curveball. I was recently diagnosed with a very annoying and sometimes quite painful Autoimmune disorder called Chrionic Idiopathic Urticaria (Chronic hives with unknown cause).

My body is releasing a steady stream of histamine all the time in order to fight… itself.

Did you know:

  • Autoimmune disorders include Lupus, RA, MS, IBS, type 1 diabetes and Hashimoto’s.
  • 1 in 5 people suffer from an autoimmune disease and some estimates say 75% of those are women.
  • The annual medical costs add up to twice that of cancer yet ten times more money is devoted to cancer research.
  • The treatments (such as steroids) that are being used to mask the symptoms rather than treat the cause do harm to the patient if allowed to be used long term.
CIU and Steroids
This is me on steroids vs. 36 hours without steroids.

So why am I sharing all this? To talk about stress management but also a call for others who might have similar situations. Do you have an autoimmune disorder of any kind? Did you find lifestyle changes or treatment that helped you?

Why has this happened? Did something trigger it? After months of trying too many prescription drugs with way too many side effects, I have started seeing an “Integrated Medicine” doctor. He is in the process of testing me for yeast allergies, h. Pilori, toxic metals and to see if I’m a carrier for strep. My primary care physician and the two specialists just had plan A, B and C that involved no investigation, only more drugs!! So I am hopeful that we’ll get to the bottom of this finally.

Some have the opinion that autoimmunity is caused or at least worsened by stress. I am a wife, a mother of two young children and a full time public high school teacher, trying to build a professional art presence on the side. In an effort to stay healthy and active, my son and I are at the local jiu jitsu dojo three nights per week. When my lips first started swelling and the hives became severe, I was rushing to get my website up and running in order to apply for a two week residency with Golden Artists Colors in upstate New York. I was coordinating two seperate art shows for my students and I, and directing the set design for our high school production of the Wizard of OZ. We were having an addition put on our house, so living in a constant state of construction and my father’s health is failing. Stressed? Me? Nah!

Still I bet half of you reacted to that paragraph with some version of, “that’s nothing. I got you beat.” Why do we do this to ourselves?

We can all agree, it is important to carve out a chunk of time for your art. How do we do it without adding to the stress by cramming it all in to the little time we have? I don’t have the answer, but I came across a book that might. Let’s read it together and maybe we’ll be able to come up with the answer together.

What is the book and how did I come across it?

Anne Truitt has been the spark for several conversations of late, including my last blog post, so I thought I’d look up a quote by her for my Facebook page today. All the quotes I found were relating to life and relationships, not to her art. Then, I realized they were all from her books, her journals regarding “a woman’s reconciliation of the call of creative work with the demands of daily life.” It is Daybook, Turn, Prospect: The Journey of an Artist by Anne Truitt.

Maybe she’s got it figured out. I bet she tells us to simplify our lives. (minimalist joke)

 

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6 thoughts on “Art as Catharsis – Chronic Idiopathic Urticaria

  1. Hi this may not be helpful but an interesting thing hapened to me a year ago. I got hives on my body every time I got wet when watering my garden or power washing my house. I was on a diet and drinking lots of water,but to flavor the water, I was squeezing lemon in each glass. When I complained to a friend about the hives, she said the lemon is a cleanser of the liver. She thought that I was detoxing my liver and the hives was a resolt of that. Could you be ingesting something regularly that could be the problem? Or did you change your diet when you first started getting the hives? My hives stopped after I stopped drinking so much lemon juice. I know this is a far flung idea. But I hope you can find a cure or an affective way to treat or deal with your health trouble. Sincerely, Nila

    1. Thanks, Nila. It has been a journey but I am no longer suffering. Glad you found the culprit. Please check out the response to Renee’s comment that I just posted for the details, if you’re curious. Thanks again!

  2. Hi Courtney

    I’m so sorry to hear that you’re suffering…you may already know that I have RA. I’m not such an artist, but have always admired you and yours. I hope you have a very peaceful and rejuvenating summer
    Lisa 🙏🏽❤️

    1. I did not know that, Lisa. I hate to hear it. Have you found anything that keeps it at bay? Any dietary changes or environmental things to avoid? I hope y’all are enjoying Washington. Tell Amelia I said, “Hello.” I miss you two.

    2. I’m not trying to diagnose you but I would like to warn you that acrylic paints are not non toxic. You should always, always wear gloves when handling acrylic paints. Also use a respirator if torching or when sanding dried paint. These photos break my heart. I have auto immune “syndrome” which is a way of saying they don’t know what I have. I have had a time when my entire back looked just like your spots and the itching was maddening. Steroids worked for me with that and then I found an amazing dermatologist who got me cleared up perfectly. But his treatments were not typical and insurance won’t pay for them. His creams are compounded and insurance won’t cover them either. They can’t be mass produced because they cannot contain preservatives. I can no longer afford them, so I suffer. Not as badly as I once did and nothing like what you show here but I certainly sympathize with you. I surely hope you find a way to get better. That is so sad. Art is a great and positive distraction from these things. Love your informative posts and videos. Thank you.

      1. Your story sounds very familiaR. I have very good news though. I am thinking about making a video post about it, at least an update to this blog post. I am DONE with conventional medicine! I went to four different doctors and they either didn’t know what I had or said it was “autoimmune” and therefore, like you said unknown cause and chronic, Chronic Idiopathic Urticaria to be precise. The allergist said I could suffer on average of 5-20 years before it disappeared as mysteriously as it began. I refused to accept that and found an Integrative Medicine doctor. He has his MD but looks at the body for the integrated system that it is. Dr. Biddle at Asheville Integrative Medicine not only cured the hives in less than six months, he has cured other issues I have dealt with all my life, because we found they were all related. Makes sense right?! None of the other doctors even did tests. They just looked at me and said your screwed basically. He ran tests for heavy metals, IgE and IgG allergies, blood levels for all kinds of minerals and vitamins and much much more. In the end it wasn’t one smoking gun but so much that was wrong that had built up over the years that my body was sending out smoke signals in the form of hives. I had some slow rolling allergies (IgG) that I take desensitization drops for but he doesn’t think that had anything to do with the hives. I had vit. and min. AND hormone deficiencies and also some metal toxicity so he created a therapy routine for me. He educated me on food and environmental toxicity. I cleaned up my diet and eliminated all fragrances and chemicals, though we were already pretty green. The kicker was identifying an overgrowth of yeast in my intestines. There are tests to be done for this but can be identified through symptoms and treatment as well. He put me on a few months of Nystatin to kill it off and the hives disappeared almost overnight. The other doctors had me on four different kinds of antihistamines AND an anti rejection medication for transplant patients. Now I am on none of it!!! Like you said, insurance wouldn’t cover any of it and it was a lot of money, but he had a lump sum quote up front to fix me and he did. I think of it as an investment in my long term health. We borrowed money from my parents, he had a payment plan. Now, I don’t require long term care. I am so healthy I think I’ll keep going to him once a year out of pocket vs these BS community health centers where one hand doesn’t talk to the other and they don’t care anything about getting to the bottom of the problem. Don’t get me started! I hope you see and read this response in its entirety. I want to shout it from the rooftops but know that the general public don’t know what we have suffered with.

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