Day 51: The Fungus Among Us

Though I’ve spent almost every winter in Sunny Florida, this is the first in many that hasn’t been ruined by snow.

For the last seven or eight years from October through February I have been plagued with winter dandruff.  Not the “Oh no, I have a flake or two on my shoulder” kind of dandruff or even the “I’m a crazy girl in the Breakfast Club and I have so much dandruff I can create performance art with it” dandruff.  Unfortunately, mine was much worse than that.

I have been dealing with a full blown blizzard of dead skin cells that causes drifts to pile up on my shoulders and on my laptop’s keyboard.  If you already have my picture on your fireplace mantle or set as your screensaver, you can see that I am a dashingly handsome, bearded man who combines rugged good looks with blue eyes that are reminiscent of a wolf’s, wild and free.  This is because I only allowed photos to be taken in the summer when my head didn’t look as much like a flour sifter in use.  In the winter, my hair and beard would fill with all the dead skin flakes from the head they were covering, gathering up all the errant bits that tried to escape my red and raw forehead, eyebrows and cheekbones.  When the season and weather were right I could shed enough skin to look like a snowy version of Charlie Brown’s friend Pig Pen.

As a morbidly obese individual you have to accept a lot of unpleasant things about yourself and the world you lumber around in.  You don’t fit in the coolest roller coasters.  Sears does not carry your size shirt, belt, or sport coat and frankly they’d probably rather you not touch the shoes just on principle.  People you don’t know call you Big Man.  Waiters look confused when you ask for a diet Coke.  Rinsing off in the shower requires a removable shower-head or unrealistic levels of athleticism.  Small children ask if you are Santa.  When you walk into the Big & Tall Men’s Clothing store, people know you are not there because of your height.  Food vendors eye’s light up when they see you approaching.

If you take all this into account, a mountain of dandruff can seem almost inconsequential- but that’s only because you don’t fully appreciate the red, raw, flaking head that I’d been walking around with.  It got so bad I went to the doctor!

Note the exclamtion mark attached to the previous sentence.  Most people would have used a period because going to the doctor for a medical issue is nothing to exclaim or even get a little worked-up about.  I, on the other hand, only go to the doctor when I think I might die and even then it has to be a potentially painful death.  Kidney stones, infected bowels, knife cut to the bone: these are my type of doctor and emergency room visits.  Not something that Head & Shoulders is supposed to cure.

The doctor did not say that I had scalp cancer which was a relief.  Instead, she explained that I had a fungus that was ravaging my dermis.  Apparently, we all have this fungus living on us but normal people have immune systems that take care of it.  My immune system must have been busy with other tasks because it didn’t pay any attention to my scalp.

Dr. Nicelady gave me a prescription for a small bottle of shampoo that cost 20 bucks and several tubes of cream to rub into the skin not covered by head and facial hair.  The medicine worked well but the cream smells like great-grandparents and the shampoo was way to expensive to keep up with.  I would medicate my head when I could but I often just let the flakes fall and chalked up the additional grossness to the aging process and the fun of being me.

After losing fifty pounds with Atkins I was hopeful that the snow storm would abate, but when September and October rolled around nothing had changed at all.  Then, during the first three weeks of being a vegan I was sure that a magical cure would save me but the dandruff kept falling.  Sadness!

Now with seven weeks of veganism behind me, I realize that I have not been thinking about the skin disorder for a while… because I have not been suffering from it!  The exciting news crept up on me this morning when I was looking at the dark colored shirts I seldom wear during Florida snow season.  I parted my hair and peered at the skin beneath.  There was no red, raw skin.  There were no little cracks in the dry skin.  My face didn’t look red and injured and my beard was plain and undecorated with fake snow.  This is an exciting turn of events and a vegan side effect I’d given up hope on.

Weight loss is great.  Cholesterol dropping like a rock is life changing.  Blood pressure normalizing is stellar.  However, I am shocked that there are so many additional beneficial side effects that this new vegan lifestyle is offering.  Sure, I’ll miss being a living, walking snow globe but to make up for it I get to wear my slimming black turtleneck this Christmas without having to explain that I was just dusted in coconut.


About jasongillett

I'm Jason Gillett, 2 year VEGAN, and a 41 year old family man. My wife & I teach in a FL school. I am using a blog to chronicle our family's new life. View all posts by jasongillett

9 responses to “Day 51: The Fungus Among Us

  • Sheree

    Wow, now that’s a bonus to being vegan I’ve never heard~~your body must have stopped using so much energy to digest meat and it had some left over to attack the fungus!

    Your post was hilarious, once again, too~~thank you!

    • jasongillett

      Thanks Sheree- It is a pleasure to have someone with your excellent taste in humor reading 🙂 I’ve wondered what the reason behind the healing was- I’m hoping to spend a little time reading up on my condition so I can get a better grasp of what has happened. I like your hypothesis! Thanks again!!!

  • evervescence

    Wow! It is really wonderful how the body can heal itself and to read about your experiences. The foods we eat really do make a difference and you are seeing this first hand. I had a similar issue with my scalp as well, for most of my life! It was on-going battle and now that I’ve been mostly vegan for the past three years and now am completely vegan, poof! Gone! I didn’t expect that either, but it has been a very welcome relief!

  • jasongillett

    I’m excited to hear that this is similar to what other people have experienced! I am amazed by the healing that is taking place and it is easy to imagine that victories like this one are occurring inside my body as well as on the outside where they can be seen. Thank you so much for reading and sharing 🙂

  • Diane Cockerham

    Wow….what a wonderful side effect of the vegan lifestyle!
    Your honesty and openness is so refreshing! You have truely captured an portrayed the human side of weightloss! Thank you for sharing! I’m very happy for you!

  • elle

    Was the dandruff due to the Atkins or something else? I think vegan diets are awesome at fixing a lot of problems like this. It is funny how quickly we forget about something that stops bothering us yet while we have it it seems to consume us. I used to suffer from a lot of headaches but haven’t had one – not one – in over two years since I went vegan. Way to go!

  • elle

    Thanks! I should mention though that the first few months were spent finding vegan substitutes for things I thought I’d miss and did involve a lot of cakes so I didn’t notice much of a difference at first lol Then I woke up one day and said “what am I doing!” and gave myself a slap and got on with being much more healthy. I think it’s too easy to get hung up on things we might miss out on and fail to see the bigger picture. I’m enjoying reading your blog today especially before Christmas when I need extra inspiration!

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