I’m losing my skin!
I’m not joking so please don’t laugh out loud otherwise I won’t tell you the tale.
For some time now, when stretching with tiredness or doing morning exercises, whenever I’ve held up my arms I’ve thought how different they look compared to just a few months ago, or thereabouts. It may be longer but I’m not owning up to anything that might incriminate me! Seriously though, if I held the arm up the appearance changed… the skin suddenly acquired a crinkly look and literally seemed to hang off the arm. Not liking the appearance I would quickly lower the arms and pretend I hadn’t noticed anything.
But you can’t escape nature, can you? Or in my case, I can’t escape things changing. It really hit home when Joe was in hospital. I had ordered a cab to take me there and it arrived early. I thought I was ready but at the last minute I remembered something I had to take. I shot into the kitchen, grabbed the required item, and dashed back to the front door. That’s when it happened…. I caught the arm (uncovered because it was a hot day) on the door latch. Ouch! No, not really an ‘ouch’ since it didn’t hurt, more an ‘ouch’ at the sight of so much blood and no time to see to it. I had visions of the cab meter working overtime but I hadn’t got time to worry about it. Back to the kitchen and a quick hunt in the medicine drawer for a plaster and I was ready to go. It wasn’t until I returned home that I was able to inspect the wound.
It wasn’t a straight cut, more like a slice of skin, about an inch wide, completely torn away from the flesh. And still bleeding. More plaster was called for. And so it went on for two days. By this time Joe was out of hospital and the district nurse had resumed visits. I took advantage of the situation and asked her to look at the arm.
‘We would have put butterfly clips in if we’d seen it at the start’, she said, before going on to advise me what to do … which was to cut off the skin flap, wash the wound and leave it open so the fresh air could do the healing. Okay, did that, and it worked. Thank you, nurse.
A few days later, I did the same again. This time, catching the same arm on something else and creating the same sort of wound. Aha, I knew how to deal with that one, but when it happened a third time I realised that I had to take precautions to protect the arm because the skin was no longer thick enough to do it.
Isn’t it alarming how things change? In what seems to be one fell swoop I go from a healthy person to a poor old thing. I don’t feel depressed though, just anxious that it doesn’t happen again and that the brain matter works stuff out in advance of stuff happening.
I’ve ordered a pair of protective sleeves from Amazon, but since they’re coming from Japan I have a lengthier waiting period. I will report on them when they arrive. To tide me over I cut up an unwanted summer top, removed the sleeves and turned them into make-shift protectors. I’ve bought blouses with longer sleeves (any excuse!) in the hope that by doing so I will avoid slashing my arm to bits. Notice I said arm, singular… that’s because these things only happen to the active one. I guess the next step is to try using different arms …. oh what joy that would be when the brain dictates which limb to use!
I did a bit of internet research on the problem and found out that we should all be preparing for such an eventuality by constantly moisturising our skin … several times a day was recommended. Well, I did, and do, but confess that over the years the arms took second place to the face when it came to daily care. Of course, in my case, there’s another reason for tissue-paper skin, and that is because I don’t make as much collagen and elastin. See what I found out:
As we age, the thick collagen layer of the skin (the layer that leather is made from) atrophies or thins out. This is due to normal aging processes where breakdown of collagen and elastin (the proteins that makes skin spring back when stretched) is not balanced with production of new collagen and elastin.
This loss of collagen is accelerated by ultraviolet light damage. Ultraviolet light, which is a form of radiation from the sun, leads to a gradual but relentless destruction of the collagen and elastin in the skin. Thin, tissue paper-like skin occurs mostly on the arms and hands — two areas that have very high levels of exposure to ultraviolet light over a lifetime. Here in the US, the left arm is usually worse than the right; this is from a lifetime of exposure from the driver’s side window when driving.
So there it is, folks, in a nutshell. Bearing in mind that those protective sleeves are readily available in the US and not the UK must tell us that climate plays a big part in wearing us out. Something to heed before it’s too late, methinks.