Communications (Jan/Feb, 1998)

Don't Leave Home Without Us!
from Esmeralda S.

Hello Ed and all other Flakers: We just purchased a beautiful computer system (birthday gift from my hubby, for my 40th). I used to be a little afraid of the computer, but my children, age 12, 10 and 7, are little geniuses behind the monitor and I didn't want to stay behind. So, I took a quick course and ever since I can't stop playing with our new toy.

Browsing the web is now one of my favorite things to do. That's how I discovered you and all the other flakers. My entire life I have never met anyone who suffers from P. I lived in LA for approximately 12 years, very close to the ocean. My P was never all that severe. Scalp and underarms, that was all. With the so called Santa Anna winds, the condition became worse on my arms, but nothing a shot from the dermatologist couldn't fix. Then we moved to Europe. Lots of stress, different food, different climate.... P exploded!

Dermatologists here will not give me shots because of the severely dangerous side effects it may cause. I have to work with gels, creams, ointments and just learn to live with it. In the meantime an ignorant neighbor has asked if my condition is contagious. Every since she saw my arms and legs she's been very—how shall I say it?—staring. Other people I have met, and who have seen my P, say, "Oh, how awful. Sorry. Does it hurt?" and that's all. Nobody reacts to my skin. They react to me, my personality, the things I do and say ... just me. I am either liked or disliked for who I am, not for my skin condition. However, that one remark from that one neighbor just stuck to me.

It has made me feel so insecure about the way I look, about the clothing that I wear (black, navy blue, dark brown are out). But then I discovered your guide. And I read all the mail from all the other sufferers. And all of the sudden I don't feel so insecure anymore. My husband and children have been very supportive of me ever since I broke out with P in such a severe way. But there isn't much they can do. However, since I found the Health info on P thru the Internet, my P has subsided a lot. The P on my underarms, from the elbow down to the wrists, has almost cleared completely. All I started doing is, soaking in my tub twice a day, use vitamin E oil and "oilated oatmeal" in the water, then moisturize my skin with Vaseline Intensive Care skin cream (for extra dry skin) in the morning after my bath. I use my tar-cream (prescription), let it dry and then cover the same patches with some homeopathic calendula ointment. Same regimen in the evening. During the day I put more calendula ointment on whenever the patches feel dry. I've done this now for about two weeks and the P disappeared from my arms. My legs and buttocks are still covered with large red patches, but they no longer flake or itch, and they are no longer as thick. Furthermore I keep reading and searching for more info on P and most of all, I no longer let myself get down by a silly question from an ignorant neighbor. I know that P is waiting around the corner, ready to attack me, but every day without pain is a wonderful treat to me.

That's all I wanted to let you know. I will keep reading your pages. I ask you to keep up your good work, it does lots of good for all of us flakers. Just to know I'm not alone has made me feel better. Thanks and greetings and the best to all of you. -Esmeralda S.

*****

Ed's Reply: Welcome to our little club, Esmeralda. You're a great example of the "cup-half-empty or cup-half-full" attitude (you weigh in on the "half-full" side). I may be reading something into your story, but if I understand correctly, you were managing your P okay until the move to Europe, where it "exploded" until you found community, again, through the Internet. If I've made a legitimate connection, there, I sure hope it gets trumpeted loudly to all those forces out there trying to capitalize on this new medium (like the phone companies) by levying added fees to e-mail and web surfing!

By the way, where in Europe have you parked yourself? (And can we visit?) -Ed

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