Mail (August, 1998)

Ten Steps to Control
from Martha

Hey you! You don't know me, but I feel like I know you! Thank you so much for creating this community! I've been reading your web page since the beginning, but haven't piped up ‘til now.

Here's my funny story: I was sitting on the lawn with a group of friends at a festival, and a man I love to flirt with leaned close and said, "You know, except for those unsightly red scaly patches, you have truly lovely skin," upon which we laughed hysterically. And the thing is, he meant it! It really did work as a compliment, all the more appreciated because of his (intentionally) rude honesty!

I've had P for about 12 years, since I was in my mid twenties, but I remember having rough elbows my whole life...

I try to be the Psoriasis Good Will Ambassador. I bravely flaunt my scaly red blotchy body (arms, legs, back, scalp) in shorts, skirts, sleeveless shirts, and even bikini (hey, my stomach is the only place I don't have P, so why not show it off? ... Well, okay, only one small patch ... Well, okay, there's also another patch starting up). I just figure that if I lost a leg, I would still go out in public, so why should this be any different?

The strange thing is that the more I ignore my P, the more others ignore it. In fact there are a few women friends I know who are self-conscious about their Rubenesque bodies who love to torture themselves and annoy me by envying my body. Envy? You should see the mess! All because I am tall and slender and reasonably toned from yoga. "What do you have to worry about with a body like that?" they ask. Or, "If I had your figure, I'd..." And I say, "Hey, you get the smooth creamy skin, I get the tall slender body. I think we're even, don't you?"

I believe that we all have our own path to discover how to control our P. I think my P would be much worse if I didn't do the things I do, but I don't really know. Here are the top 10 things that help me, but that doesn't mean they'd work for others.

1. Adequate sleep. The more sleep I get, the better my P. It's the most stunning cure for me, in terms of immediate response. I have a hard time doing it, though!

2. Diet and Vitamins: Lots of veggies, whole foods (i.e. not pre-prepared, processed), low wheat, low dairy, flax seed oil, Vitamin B complex, Vitamin C, Multivitamin, Vitamin E. No Nightshade Veggies!!! This includes No Tomato, nor Eggplant!!

3. Limit Toxins: Little or No Alcohol, Drugs, processed foods, etc. I recently stopped drinking (used to have 1-2 drinks 3-5 times a week), and though I do have a little alcohol once in a while, I've really noticed an improvement in my P (not to mention the other benefits).

4. Toxins: I do use a topical steroid, Psorcon, which limits growth of patches, and topical Vitamin D, Dovonex, which is very effective for me in keeping the layers of plaque to a minimum.

5. Sunshine: I'm one of those people who responds well to sun. Unfortunately I live in the Pacific Northwest, so I don't get much!

6. Yoga and Meditation: This is essential to my well-being, P or no P. It is my spiritual center, and helps me be relaxed and calm. The yoga is wonderful for a lot of reasons, but in terms of P, it makes me love and wonder at all that my body is capable of.

7. Limit Stress. I'm not sure how to do this. My P is better when I'm not in a relationship, when I have a stretch of days away from work (rare), or, in my normal worker-bee life, when I limit my out-of-work commitments and just make dinner, go for a long walk with my dog, and read in bed.

8. Spa night: Especially in the winter, at least once a week I create the Dead Sea Spa in my own house. I light candles, play soft music, prepare a bath, add sea salt to it (Peruvian, in bulk at my Natural Food store), get in, and luxuriate. (Ed Dewke, get your mind out of the gutter! I know you, remember!) Then after soaking, I gently loofa my plaque layers, gently shave my legs unless my P is too bumpy. Then I get out and I use a clay pack for all my worst areas. I mix French green clay (facial quality, from the local herbal apothecary) with a little water to make a smooth paste. I smooth it on, and it feels wonderfully cool and soothing. Then I let it dry while I read a book. As it dries it hardens, and has a wicking, or drawing action. It draws all the heat and angry activity up. Then I take a shower to rinse off salt water, sweat, and clay, and then I moisturize. If I don't do this every week in the winter my P gets really bad. It doesn't reduce the number of lesions, but it does keep them quieted down. (P.S., the clay pack works wonders on bug bites, bee stings, and poison ivy!)

9.Aerobic Exercise: we all know it's good for us. I really try to do what I can.

10. Count my blessings!!! I have many wonderful things in my life to be thankful for: family, dog, friends, nature, God/the Creator/the beingness of all things.

Take care, Ed, keep up the good work!! -Martha


Ed's Response: Yours sounds like a good prescription for a "balanced life" with P. I've too much respect for all that you've said to spend the time I'm tempted to spend lingering over the image your item #8 compels. (I'll enjoy that privately, thank you.)

I'm sure that some of that "envy" your friends experience goes deeper than appearance. They no doubt envy your courage, attitude, and fortitude as well as your other endowments.

I met a woman in her late forties who, from fifty feet or so away, was absolutely stunning. However, when you got closer to her, her skin looked like hide. Badly tanned leather, in fact. It was, I learned, the consequence of a lifetime of sunbathing. True, she had an incredible tan (and it was uniform everywhere, I was told) but by the time she hit her late forties she was paying dearly. It made me want to weep. She had volunteered to be in a situation we P's are conscripted into. I wept to imagine how "perfect" that woman might have been had she not put such an unhealthy value on well-tanned skin for so many years.

It sounds to me, Martha, that you are the antithesis of this other woman, someone devoted to making what's right about you as right as it possibly can be. There's plenty there to envy. Thanks for sharing your ten steps! -Ed


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