Why is an outbreak of spots threatening to ruin my whole life?
MY FACE HAS BEEN A MESS for a year now.
For a long time, I’ve been getting what I call ‘sweat spots’, which seem to flare up every time I exercise.
I’m the world’s sweatiest man, and having a face regularly covered in dirt and salt for hours is probably not the world’s greatest skincare regimen.
But the spots got much worse around the time of Lockdown 1: nowadays, the left-hand side of my Boat Race is in a state of almost constant eruption, and I’m sporting the sort of crags and scabs that went out of fashion when they finished Mount Rushmore.
I don’t think it’s lockdown-related, but being in lockdown means I haven’t wanted to bother my doctor too much. Not with – you know – everything else that’s going on.
About six months ago, I did get fed up enough to send the surgery a picture of the damage, from which my GP diagnosed shingles, and prescribed me antibiotics.
These worked for about a week, but then the red, rashy, sore-y, scabby stuff roared back with a vengeance, and took up almost permanent residence on my upper left cheek and nose.
And so, I’m back to Square One. I had terrible spots when I was a teenager, and I thought I’d more than done my fair share of wearing a Pizza Face.
But what makes it worse is that, at the age of 55, I don’t even have nice hair and a flat stomach to make up for it. Fucked off is not the word(s).
Of course, I’ve been Googling my symptoms – Oh, I just happened to be sitting at the computer anyway, doing nothing much – and I’ve come to the firm (if completely inexpert) conclusion that what I’m suffering from is rosacea.
My life is buggered – and not for the first time lately”
The scabs on the NHS website look the same as mine, and the symptoms of rosacea are less severe than those of shingles. So, it could be a lot worse – apart from the cure….
Anyone wanting to get rid of rosacea, says the NHS, should (a) avoid spicy food, (b) avoid alcohol, (c) avoid hot drinks, and (d) avoid aerobic exercise.
The only trouble is that the four greatest pleasures in my life are (a) spicy food, (b) alcohol, (c) hot drinks, and (d) aerobic exercise.
Giving up all my pleasures will get rid of my rosacea, but it will also get rid of all my pleasures. I’ve therefore come to the conclusion that my life is buggered.
Nor is it the first time that it’s been buggered recently: a year ago, my doctor said that I had high blood pressure, and told me I had to exercise more, and cut down on alcohol and caffeine.
So, I exercised more, and ruthlessly excised Diet Cokes and cappuccinos from my life.
I also tried to drink a bit less, although now it seems that I really have to cut down on my drinking… But stop exercising, as well? I don’t get it.
Why do our options dwindle as we get older – but not in a logical way?”
Why is it that our options seem to dwindle as we get older, but not in a logical way? We can’t do the fun things we used to, because we’ll get high blood pressure. But we can’t do virtuous things like exercise, either, because we’ll get knee strains and rosacea.
We already do plenty of accommodating to the ageing process – putting up with stiff hips, bad backs, arthritis, tears and pulls, and generally trying to maintain our bodies through yoga, pilates, physiotherapy, etc.
But despite this, the things we can do without consequences seem to taper to a finer and finer point – and there are more and more decisions we’re forced to take where none of the options are very satisfactory.
Maybe it’s just part of life as you get older: do I carry on with this, or not? Do I take the doctor’s advice, or not?
In any event, I’ve decided to at least talk to the doctor about my skin, even though we’re still in a pandemic and she could probably do without the hassle.
Maybe she’ll tell me it’s just the body no longer being able to do the things it used to…
Maybe she’ll tell me to have more realistic expectations of what I can do…
But, best of all, maybe she’ll tell me that I don’t actually have rosacea – and that life can go on as before, at least for a bit?
* Does anyone reading this know anything about exercise and rosacea? Do you have any advice? I did consider doing more anaerobic exercise, like weight training, but it could never replace the highs of running and cycling, or be quite as good for my mental health…