Sunday, April 17, 2005

the heartbreak of psoriasis

For only the second time in eighteen years or so, I'm getting some serious treatment for my psoriasis.

Psoriasis, if you don't know, is a skin ailment that's genetic in nature and that flares up under stress. It looks like red, raw skin with white scaly flakes, if for no other reason than it's red, raw skin with white scaly flakes. At the moment, it covers 40 percent of my body, including my legs, my arms, parts of my stomach, my scalp, my shoulders, my forehead, my generative organs and almost all my back, plus a few spots on my buttocks.

I've had it since I was 17, when it was a small patch on my back, the size of my quarter. It's gone up and down a few times, but has never gone away entirely. Each time it's flared up, it's come back worse.

A previous dermatologist had prescribed some topical steroids that worked like a charm and cleared up everything within about three weeks. Unfortunately, that was before I started working at The Pit, more commonly known as WCN, and it soon roared back to life.

The dermatologist I was referred to this time didn't want to do that. My psoriasis is extensive and topical steroids are steroids, after all, and coating more than half your body with steroids twice a day isn't something most doctors recommend for the long haul.

I get a whole booth to myself.
So instead, I'm getting phototherapy. Sadly, this does not involve talking with a psychiatrist about how my mother didn't love me and always had me airbrushed out of the family pictures. It instead involves being exposed to ultraviolet light, the only way to clear up psoriasis naturally.

That is, it's natural if you consider it natural to stand naked in a chamber lined with bright lights while you wear nothing but a pair of devo sunglasses shaped like swimming goggles, and stand there holding a paper towel over your most personal anatomy.

The downside to all this is that my share of the office visits comes to $10 a visit, and I have to visit the dermatologist's office three times a week for about four months to make this all work, so we're talking about $500 in co-payments.

The upshot to that is that I'm also taking a second medical treatment that involves injecting myself every Monday and Thursday morning with a psoriasis-treatment drug. Since both treatments are FDA-approved, I'm getting a combination of treatments with a proven track record of success, for free.

I'm taking part in a study to see how much faster patients respond to the treatments when they're combined. So not only am I getting the doctors' visits (and the drug) for free, I'm getting paid about $800 to do it. It just keeps getting better.

The only part that really bites is that I have to inject myself, and I really hate needles.

Thank God I'm not diabetic. I can't imagine injecting myself with insulin three times a day.


Lisa said...

Hi there!
I too have Psoriasis, since the age of 15, I'm 38 now. When it first came out on me it was all over me. It has not been that bad again. Just FYI, my grandmother took me to Duke University to see the doctors there. They gave me a set of plans to have my own "light chamber" built. Same as any doctor's office. Although it may be expensive (a church donated the materials to me) it was so convenient and less stressful to be able to do that at home. Since you seem to have a serious problem with it maybe you would like to explore that option... Good luck, I hope the treatment helps you quickly!

p.s. I'm sure like me you get home remedies suggested to you all the time... lol... here's another.. the ocean is VERY helpful. I don't know where you live but if you can spend some time in the ocean you will be amazed. Even have a swallow of the water everyday.

Newbirth said...

Found this:

When Psoriasis Gets Under Your Skin and in Your Joints

"More than 4.5 million adults suffer from psoriasis, a chronic condition that causes red, flaky patches of thickened skin. This uncontrollable overgrowth of skin cells can appear on the scalp, hands, feet and genitalia. But the lesions most commonly appear on the elbows, knees and lower back, which might give a hint as to why almost one third of psoriasis sufferers also have a compounding disease, psoriatic arthritis, which affects the joints and can be crippling."

Don't know if that article will help you, but there you go.