Message from Clara Dewke
(July, 1997)

Dear Spouses of Psoriatics:

When Ed and I met he already had psoriasis, so my life with Ed has always been with the disease. I remember the first time I was introduced to his psoriasis. We were having lunch. Ed was feeling sorry for himself. I was trying to make him understand that it was what he had inside that mattered. After all, peel off the skin and everyone looks the same, psoriasis or no psoriasis.

Ed showed me his arms and asked, "Does this bother you?"

"No, frankly, it doesn't."

I guess it was hard for Ed to believe someone could care about him no matter his flaws. I suppose, unlike other women he had dated, I was different. I care more about Ed the person then Ed the "flaker."

We continued to date. Finally, we were married in June, 1996. Yes, we are still honeymooning when we can lose the kids.

The only part of Ed's psoriasis that really bothered me was his I-feel-sorry-for-myself attitude. Being the outspoken person I am, I told him his psoriasis isn't any worse than other diseases people have. I told Ed to deal with his psoriasis and "move on." I know that might sound harsh, especially since the psoriasis comes and goes.

I do have a sympathetic side. We had been together about eight months when I decided I wanted a better understanding of what Ed goes through. He was on a business trip when I decided to try out his awful smelling shampoo. I know for a fact now that people with psoriasis have thick skulls because that shampoo sent me through the roof! I'm thinking it might have caused some brain damage. Honestly, there should be a law against anything that burns and smells that bad. One of the active ingredients in Ed's shampoo is "tar" and I'll tell you, after using it I definitely felt like pavement. If it's all right with you psoriatics, and if I start flaking, I think I'll try Head & Shoulders™ first.

As the spouse of a psoriatic, I know how difficult it is to control the flakes. Been there, done that. The color schemes I like, Hunter Green and Maroon, don't go well with psoriasis, but Ed and I compromise. He flakes, I dust, shake and clean a lot. Why? Because I love him and would not give him up for all the flakes in the world.

Actually, probably because I live with Ed every day, I don't "see" his psoriasis other than the meds, shower cap and food handler's gloves. His psoriasis is a part of our life. I can tell you as a spouse, the only thing you can do is love and try to understand their feelings. No one without the disease can understand what it's like to live with psoriasis. But unless you live with a psoriatic, you can't understand what that's like, either. I can and do behave like "Dr. Dewke," rubbing in his creams, ointments and lotions when he wants me to, and that's a part of loving him. But Ed, like any psoriatic, has got to love himself, too. Sometimes this has to be taught—just ask Ed!

I know a lot of you feel lost and you don't know what to do. I agree with Ed, laughter can be potent medicine. (I laugh today when I think of my shampoo experiment!) If I can help you, please let me know. You have a sympathetic friend. -Clara Dewke

P.S. Share stories with us about your life as the spouse of a psoriatic. I know for a fact you've got something to say! Email me via Ed.

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