Wednesday, October 29, 2014

World Psoriasis Day

This post is about a particularly nasty condition ...
Now be warned, I may dip into descriptions that you may not want to read if queasy, sensitive, squeamish or just eaten.

Ok. I probably won't be that bad but I've been pretty moderate with the descriptions of what I've been living with.

What is Psoriasis ? (wiki link)

It's not fully understood but the usual sign is that the body's repair system starts to go nuts. Lesions appear on the skin, itchy lesions. These then accumulate extra skin cells courtesy of that damaged body repair system. These are unsightly and itchy. Sometimes they get worse on their own, often (like me) they'll get worse courtesy of the victim wanting to get rid of the surplus dead skin.

That's the core of my particular problem. I think I'd have been repaired by now, if not for that compulsion to attack the bad bits. I attack them so much, they bleed. I literally can't help myself when I start, it's a blemish, I have to get rid of it. And when that happens, the bad bits expand.

You might be thinking - how do I get this ?

The cause is not known. It can afflict anyone, from any age. Personally, I believe mine was caused by allergies to lettuce amongst other things. I'm countering that with 2x 8 hour Benedryl (Acrivastine) per day which serves as anti-allergy and anti-inflammatory.

It is not a contagious disease. You cannot catch it from someone afflicted with the condition. Proof ? I have some amazing friends with the condition who have lived with partners, wives and children for many years after the condition becoming apparent, their partners have not contracted the condition.

Fear not - it is not contagious. REMEMBER that too, because a subconscious belief that you may catch it from contact etc does very bad things to the psyche of a Psoriasis sufferer and makes a bad condition even worse when that rejection is added in.

The treatment can sometimes be worse than the problem itself, because to mend the body's repair system also means suppressing it with drugs like Methotrexate. That suppressed immune system makes it much easier to catch bugs that most of us would shake off, or secondary infections that our bodies would normally laugh at.

I'm lucky, my body appears to be recovering on its own when I allow it to. When I'm not attacking the bad bits. I actually feel a bit of a fraud around my PA suffering friends because I don't think my condition is actually true Psoriasis.

My repaired skin is actually pretty good. People have given the usual recommendations of "try some E45" and "use moisturiser". Yep. Did that. My shoulders turned to bark. I was Groot ! Sadly without the raccoon or the adoring hordes. But yeah, my body is doing it's usual thing of responding opposite to what it should :
Moisturiser - dries it out
No moisturer - soft, smooth skin

I'm also lucky because :

So - it's just a skin disease right ?

Nope. Psoriasis can develop into Psoriatic Arthritis (PA), which is a truly evil condition. Psoriasis attacks the outside, the same condition can attack the insides. It'll brutalise the joints causing severe, chronic pain.

Personally, I'm suffering from :
Continual cramping in my fingers which makes it difficult to write.
The damage around my right hip.
A really sore and stiff neck.
An uncooperative upper back.

If I thought I had PA, then I'd attribute the neck damage and the finger damage to it. Possibly the back as well. The hip is an artifact from when I was treating the infections that took a while to get rid of (too much sitting on the floor). The fingers are from continuing fluid imbalance, which I think is a sideways symptom/artifact of my body repairing itself. As in, the body is using fluid to repair damage first and keep muscles in balance second. I think the back problems are more from disuse though.

I have a number of friends who's lives are crippled by the effects of PA. The continuing pain on a daily basis is almost unbearable. Yeah, I scream out occasionally when my hip tells me it didn't like what I just did and flick my fingers when the cramp hits them but that's occasional acute pain. I can deal with that. It's not something I have to take pain medication for.


I'm very lucky. The condition has only lightly touched me on the shoulder, yet it's put my life on hold for over 3 years now. I think I'm nearly out of it, the massive swelling on my feet, ankles and knees has gone and they're back to bony again. (Means my knees are complaining that they don't have the support jacket they demand !)

I expect I'll be repaired again by next cricket season. In theory, I could play again. My joints etc would support that. I won't though because at (a certain classified age!) my reactions are pretty well shot and I'm not the effective player I used to be. Sad but true.

But there are so many others who are not lucky. Psoriasis and PA have wrecked their lives.

Give them your understanding please, not rejection. Help them, support them.

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