(March, 1999)

Paranoid Co-workers and Prednisone
from Tammy S.

Greetings. I just happened to find your website. Your "Don't say This" list, while humorous, was also depressing. I've heard most of them at one time or another. I work as a Children's Librarian and, as you can imagine, children are honest to a fault. I get so sick of answering all the stupid questions! I got to answering adults about the spots on my knees and elbows: "It was wild kinky sex!" That usually ends the rude comments.

My P showed up 4 years ago. I'm 31. The people with whom I work freaked out, made me leave work, go to the emergency room to have an AIDS test. They had a staff meeting to try and decide what disease I had. Every time I left the room they sprayed down the place with Lysol! I was not permitted to come back to work for two weeks and they insisted on a signed letter from my doctor that I was not contagious. I feel that I am bigger than that and still need my job, so I haven't quit—YET! As you can tell from my tone, my P makes me very depressed and angry!

The first time I went to a derm I was broken out bad, my head was infected from my digging and I was losing a lot of hair. The derm told me it was permanent and there was no known cure. I lost it, sobbing uncontrollably.

I've been dealing with it and trying every medicine I can. Dovonex worked for a while. I'm now on a series of "Health Nut" vitamins and minerals. It helps some. Have you had any comments about Prednisone? It messed me up bad! Two weeks go I had a really bad case of the flu and viral bronchitis. My Doc gave me a shot of Prednisone and then pills. My whole body has broken out in painful, little pimple-like sores. I did some research and found that Prednisone has been linked to pustular P! Thanks for listening to me whine a little. -Tammy S.

*****

Ed's Response: Hi Tammy. Normally I'd be outraged by the response of your co-workers, but I suppose as a kids' librarians they had the Greater Good at heart. As a grandfather of two 5 year-olds and two 2 year-olds, I know what the wee ones can drag home from kindergarten, preschool and daycare. I've learned to appreciate a little paranoia on the side of those teachers and caretakers. Nevertheless, knowing what WE know about our condition, all that paranoia IS irritating as hell.

I've often wished the net gave me the capability of handing readers a tissue when they get to the bottom of the "Don't Say This" list, or conclude certain particularly poignant (or tearfully funny) pieces of e-mail, but alas ... flakers learn to cry alone, too. When I was first diagnosed P, and got the no-cure-learn-to-live-with-it lecture, I didn't get hysterical. First I was stunned, then I got angry, then I got drunk. In retrospect, I wish I would have just had a good cry.

I was unable to find anything linking Prednisone (cortisone, a steroid for systemic use) with any sort of P, but I'll defer to other readers' knowledge and/or experience. It has long been observed that infections—viral and bacterial—can trigger P, but then your "painful, little pimple-like sores" might not be P, but some other skin reaction to either the meds or the infection. All my life I've been "skin sensitive" to all sorts of things. P didn't manifest until I was 39. Since then, it's been easy to see the variety of skin reactions I continue to have as P-related, but rationally I suspect many of those reactions AREN'T. P probably wasn't my skin concluding, I might as well stop this on-going litany of revolt, just get P and call it "general indignation." More likely, P was my skin saying to me, Well you s.o.b., I've bothered you with all sorts of little things in the past, now HERE'S ONE you can't ignore! When I decided to just go on living anyway, my skin just added the P to the continuing litany of revolts.

I'm glad you found us, Tammy, and hope you will continue to drop by to keep us apprized! -Ed

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