Tuesday, April 19, 2005

psoriasis treatment

Things are going pretty well here, all things considered.

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 scaley flakes, if for no other reason than it's red, raw skin with white scaley flakes. I've had it since I was 17, and I had 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, and each time it's flared up, it's come back worse. 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, and almost all my back, plus a few other spots.

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 Newspapers), so I was expecting something similar this time. The dermatologist I was referred to this time didn't want to do that, since my psoriasis is so extenseive and topical steroids are steroids, after all, and coating almost half your body with steroids twice a day isn't something most doctors recommend for the long haul.

So instead, I'm getting phototherapy. With a name like that, you'd almost expect it to involve talking to a psychiatrist about how your mother never loved you and always had you airbrushed out of the family pictures, but it actually involves being exposed to ultraviolet light, since that's pretty much the only things that clears up psoriasis naturally. If you consider it natural to stand naked in a chamber lined with bright lights while you wear nothing but a pair of sunglasses shaped like swimming goggles, and hold a paper towel over your most personal anatomy, that is.

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.

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.)

The other big news is that I've just committed myself for the next two years to a role-playing adventure using AD&D, version 3.5. It's a major transition for me, since I haven't played D&D in about 20 years, since I was in middle school. I actually got rid of all my D&D stuff back when I was in college, and the only roleplaying I've done since has been a little bit of NeverWorld and some live-action roleplaying as a vampire about eight years ago.

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