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March-April, 2010

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Worries About Health Care Reform

I bit my lips during most of the last days of debate in Congress. It seemed no matter where I went people were angry about the proposed legislation. “They are cramming a huge expense down our throats that our children and their children are going to have to pay!” ... “Without this legislation the greed running rampant through the health care industry is going to drive health care into a meltdown.” ... “American health care is considered proof that an unregulated free market is like a runaway freight train.”

The assertions have been volatile and shouted, not whispered.

If you haven’t already, do check out the page titled The health care law and you at the National Psoriasis Foundation site. This pithy piece may relieve some of your anxieties about psoriasis as a “pre-existing condition” and the cost of treating P when you’re on Medicare. Also, for those who want to dig deeper, there’s a solid list of online resources at the end of the article.

Before the end of the year, I expect to see a few books published about the creation, debate, passage and predicted outcomes of health care reform in the U.S. They’ll be interesting to read later but, for the moment, I’m trying to stay in a “cool down” mode.


Spring: When the Psoriasis/Allergy Debate buds anew

It is a perennial thing with me. All the doctors and all the texts I’ve read about allergies and psoriasis deny any relation between the two. Well, one thing I read long ago suggested stress from allergic symptoms might exacerbate or trigger a P flare. I don’t think stressing about my allergies triggers my flare, but my anger over this damned argument surely does.

Living with a stuffy nose, burning eyes and post-nasal drip doesn’t stress me out. Hell, it’s been my springtime status since I was pre-school age. The allergy symptoms have morphed through the decades, some years seemingly more severe than others, but the hyposensitization shots I got for a few brief months in 1972 have long since worn off and it’s been same-o, same-o with the springtime allergies for a long-o, long-o time.

So don’t tell me my allergies are simply exacerbating my P by way of stress.

Fact is, in spring the P wins over whatever drug I’ve been using to subdue it through most of the year (for me, it’s been Humira for the past four years). The first eruption seems to always be on my scalp. My hairline has receded quite a bit in the last ten years and now I can see lesions just above my forehead that I only knew by touch before. They’re ugly; just like the lesions everywhere else. They flake and itch like crazy. I battle the scalp lesions by soaking my hair and scrubbing in some tar, salicylic acid, or zinc pyrithione-based shampoo and letting that simmer for 15-20 minutes while I undertake other, out-of-the-shower ablutions. Finally, in the shower, I wash out the shampoo and, if I’m lucky enough to find some conditioner among the bottles entombed in there, I’ll apply some.

At the height of the allergy seasons, shampooing and conditioning won’t curtail the scalp flaking. It rages louder than ever at the same time other lesions are starting to bubble forth. Especially the flexural burning lesion that grows over my scrotum; the four bits-worth of dime sized lesions that flourish under my beard and, when scratched, cause a flurry of dander to add interest to my shirt. And, of course, the lesions on my legs, the bottoms of my feet, my fingernails....

I’ve always drawn blood from over-scratching my lesions (wherever they are), but since my open heart surgery several years ago, and the addition of a powerful blood thinner to my enchanting salad of medications, the bleeding lesions have really become interesting. Sometimes it seems I don’t have to actually scratch to bleed — just thinking about it is sufficient to launch the flow.  Oh my, there it goes again....

All this spring rebirth of my active psoriasis just happens to occur when the allergies act up. That’s what all the pros want me to believe. “Climate change triggers lots of psoriatics,” my rheumy explains. My derm used to say, “Look at all the years you had allergies without psoriasis. The two conditions aren’t related.” Well, there was a time when psoriasis wasn’t related to anything (though confused with lots of things). Before it was identified as an immune system dysfunction (loosely similar to allergies), it may not have been so obvious that the symptoms of hay fever and the seasonal P flares had something to do with each other. Now, in my case, except for allergy seasons (spring and fall), Humira keeps me clear and free from joint pain. Two completely independent conditions triggered by exactly the same circumstance? Where’s Dr. House when you need him?

So, if you think there is definitely a connection between flaking and seasonal allergies, please send me an email that says, in whatever words you like, “I’m on your side about this, Ed.” And, for those who know there isn’t any relationship between seasonal allergies and psoriasis, please tell me what it is you know. But you better make it convincing.


This update’s Mail returns us to some topics that have grown dusty in the archives....

  • The side effects from taking Soriatane have plagued Ran for five years

  • Using Enbrel AFTER having cancer

  • Dr. Tirant from Australia

In another email, Nancy M. relates her insurance hassles over an outrageous Raptiva co-pay. All this in the long, fading shadow of that drug’s demise.                     


New in Flaker Creativity

Sheehan's "Soul to Sole," new in this update, is a most-called-for counterpoint to my snivelling about seasonal allergies and P (above). Like so many of Sherry's poems, she conjures a clear image that makes you feel far more than the language lays out. See if you wouldn't go out of your way to locate Sherry's character in Soul to Sole in your own mirror tomorrow morning. Go to the Sherry Sheehan page or directly to the Poem, Soul to Sole.


Enjoy the spring, no matter what! -ED



Tybee Island, Georgia, March 2010

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