LeAnn Rimes’ “Stop Hiding. Start Living.” video showed up in my G Reader last week. She talked about how she dealt with and linked me to Comcast, so for some reason I thought it was new. The next day I tried to go back, it was taken down. Boohoo! Luckily, I scoured YouTube for the clip so I could link to it here. It’s so awesome to hear her talk about it – she looks great and she looks confident in talking about psoriasis.
Here’s an even better one I found while digging for the one above. Each person’s story shared is incredibly thoughtful and inspiring.
I think anyone with a skin condition, whether it’s psoriasis, eczema or acne can relate to what these P sufferers are saying. I want to reach out and hug the girl who talked about her swimming pool experience. I haven’t been to a pool in the longest time but I’ve rejected a whole summer’s worth of junk parties this year because I didn’t want to get on the boat and show my skin. (I also don’t really like going on junks, but that’s not my point). Having a skin condition is embarrassing and we all want to hide it. I wake up everyday and spend 5-10 minutes just thinking about what I’m going to wear. I check my scars or angry red rashes and think: Okay I need a cardigan today because I need to cover up this rash on my inner elbow or, No pencil skirt today because the scar on the back of my knee is really prominent. And on the odd occasion that my rashes are exposed, I know I look like a deer caught in the headlights whenever someone says, “What happened to your arm? Are you okay?” or worse, “Oh my GOD! What happened to your arm?! Are you okay?!” I literally freeze in embarrassment and I can feel a shocked expression on my face. How I do even respond to that?
Earlier this week, Kim Kardashian revealed she has psoriasis! While I don’t wish the terrible disease on anyone, I really am glad that she’s bringing it on air with her. It helps raise awareness about this hard-to-deal with disease, and for some people, seeing beautiful women deal positively with this skin condition is a real encouragement!
Kim Kardashian, image from: Gossip Fame
LeAnn Rimes has been battling psoriasis since she was a kid. Her skin is looking pretty good to me! Inspiring!
I skipped work in the morning yesterday because I managed to get an appointment with a dermatologist. I had to forgo my usual Dr Great Derm because he was just getting too darn expensive – $710 for the consultation alone and another ~$200 or so for meds? Come on, my insurance only covers $360! Dr New Derm only charges ~$550 for consultation and ~$200 for meds, and I was billed just over $700 for this visit. He seemed awfully young though and most of his certifications are dated around 1990 onwards. I can’t say I wasn’t a little bit worried when I saw that. But he was very thorough and we spoke for 45 minutes (45 minutes!!) about my history and lifestyle. Apparently the rash on my shoulder is NOT PSORIASIS, oh my God! There’s no way to tell for sure since both rash types can look very similar, especially when the skin gets thick from scratching. Plus I had scratched off all the scales in an itchy-scratchy episode the night before. Apparently, having both eczema and psoriasis is particularly rare, and psoriasis has a stronger genetic link than eczema does; much stronger than mine.
I used the steroid cream twice after the doctor’s visit, and started the 10-day course of antihistamines. I’m happy to report that Day 1 (today) saw a lot less itching and a lot less dry skin.
Not sure the spot on my palm is any better but it definitely feels better. It’s less itchy and the deeper cracks have healed slightly because it’s much less painful today.
I asked him about a lot of things, including weather, allergies and sun therapy. He reminded me, just like Dr Great Derm has said every time I see him for a flare up, that there is no cure for eczema. But it IS treatable, if you monitor your diet and lifestyle. Dr New Derm actually outlined three goals, a) to get rid of this current flare up, b) to treat eczema such that each recurring flare up is less severe, and c) to ultimately pass eczema treatment back to me, the patient, because when it comes to treating eczema, ultimately only we know what works best!
I couldn’t sleep last night, which is usual for me on Sundays as the weekend comes to an end, so I did a little more research on psoriasis for my bedtime reading. I stumbled on a few discontinued blogs by psoriasis sufferers and Howard Chang’s blog on EverydayHealth, where I read about severe sufferers admitted in a psoriasis treatment centre for a week or more because the psoriasis patches had literally covered more than 95% of their skin. Apparently psoriasis is also common in HIV carriers. I read a case where a psoriasis patient died; few details were exposed but the poster, his mother, said immune system was too weak.
So at 12:04am, I was freaking out. Even when my eczema was at it’s worst, I’ve never had it cover my entire body without even a bit of healthy skin somewhere. Was 95% coverage the severity of the disease? Was it death? This is my second year with psoriasis, a possible sign that my immune system is continuing to weaken. Could my immune system eventually kill me over the years?
Psoriasis on my right shoulder.
I wish I had thought of this idea earlier, of documenting my life with eczema. I don’t remember what my skin looked like when I was kid or even a teenager, I just remember being so damn itchy all the time, and always trying to find clothes that would cover up my red or dry patches. I would have documented my lifestyle and diets too, which would probably help in figuring out what causes flare ups, overall. Now I kind of have to start from scratch, which is fine, because it feels like I’m taking a really big step towards getting better. The blog requires some discipline, which hopefully means I’m keeping up with trying to get better, and not falling back into my lazy old ways of simply being unhappy and relying on antihistamines and corticosteroids. The other incentive is that I finally have the excuse to play around with HTML and figuring out how regular blogging works with social media, which might be a bit useful in my job search.
I’m sitting in a park under the sun, trying out some at-home sun therapy (more about that later) as I write this, and it feels great to be wearing something sleeveless in the hot summer. I don’t know anyone who lives in my neighbourhood, so I don’t feel embarrassed about not being covered up.
These are the worst of the rashes. The one on the side of my palm is the most itchy and actually painful because the cracks are so deep.
The patch on my thigh is recent, and the eczema on the insides of my elbows look mostly dry, although it still itches like crazy at least once a day. Bright side: it’s not itching the whole day.
Flare Up 2011 started about two months ago, after a period of excellent skin health. I was doing dragonboat regularly, using every muscle in my body (exercise) under the scorching sun (sun therapy). And I had amazing results (which I only noticed after my eczema came back, darn it). My seven-month acne cleared right up, as well as the psoriasis on my arms. I was wearing strapless dresses, yay! There was zero sign of eczema. Then, I one day, I had a very small itchy part on the side of my palm. I applied an ointment prescribed by my dermatologist (bless the man, he’s saved me so many times) two years ago, but it refused to go away. Instead, it got increasingly worse. When the season was over, I was suddenly fatigued by my hectic lifestyle (which I had been dealing with just fine when I was dragonboating) and I had angry patches on my inner elbows and an insane psoriatic itch near my armpit. And bam, here I am, suffering again!
The Chinese medicine I’ve been taking over the past few weeks hasn’t been working fast enough so I’m hoping to get an appointment with dermatologist this week. A round of antihistamines isn’t the best solution, but I know by now, sometimes you just need to zap it before it spreads like wildfire to every part of your body (past experience last year when I tried to avoid the dermatologist and it was bad bad BAD). A lot of people don’t believe in Chinese / alternative medicine, homeopathy or even Western medicine (which simple suppresses the body’s production of histamines), but personally, I think you need a combination of everything.
Patient Chart today:
Two cups of brewed coffee
Cheung Fun and fried tofu for lunch (fried is bad I know, I know but I peeled the fried skin off after the first one).
Fried pork chop with steamed rice and broccoli (what I usually have every week, what can I say I’m boring with food)
7 hours at 3AM last night
1 hour under moderate sun (5pm).