Living with Psoriasis, psoriasis

Introduction to the Four Seasons of Healing

At eight years old my life was turned upside down when dermatologists diagnosed me with severe psoriasis. Psoriasis is a noncontagious immune-mediated condition that inflames the skin and joints.

It became an imposing part of my life at that tender age. The personal struggle of living with psoriasis not only came from the physical discomfort of red, itchy, burning, thick, scaly lesions. Anxiety, depression, and hopelessness accompanied the physical discomfort.  

Everyone is touched by physical illness. Whether experienced personally or as a friend, family member, or caregiver, disease and illness are part of the human condition. The coronavirus pandemic started in the United States with the first confirmed case on January 20, 2020. The ensuing spread and devastation revealed just how fragile public health can be in the face of a novel pathogen.  

The personal struggle of living with psoriasis not only came from the physical discomfort of red, itchy, burning, thick, scaly lesions. Anxiety, depression, and hopelessness accompanied the physical discomfort.  

The increasing prevalence of certain chronic health conditions adds complexity and risk to medically caring for those who contract COVID-19. Indeed, those with chronic disease already bear a great burden without those complicating effects. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes on their website that “six in ten adults in the US have a chronic disease and four in ten adults have two or more.”[1] They describe the impact of chronic disease this way: 

Chronic diseases are defined broadly as conditions that last 1 year or more and require ongoing medical attention or limit activities of daily living or both. Chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and diabetes are the leading causes of death and disability in the United States. They are also leading drivers of the nation’s $3.8 trillion in annual health care costs.2

 While the financial costs of chronic illness to the healthcare system and individual are great, those numbers do not account for the hidden impacts of these illnesses. Chronic disease and illness often affect one’s spirituality, emotional health, relationships, employment, or even the ability to perform basic daily tasks. 

Each day since my diagnosis I have grappled with having a chronic, severe, stigmatizing skin disease. Indeed, the emotional and spiritual wounds often felt insurmountable to overcome. 

Struggles at Home and Beyond 

I applied messy treatments and sustained painful taunts in those early years living with psoriasis. I especially hated putting liquid coal tar in a petroleum base on my skin overnight. The coal tar treatment smelled like a newly paved road while it stained everything it touched. The greasy feeling on my body made sleeping difficult. To make matters worse, my older brother called me names like “tar baby.” Those hurtful words made hours of treatments each day that much more difficult to bear.  

Continue reading
Standard
Living with Psoriasis, Personal Faith, Spirituality

Two Questions About Prayer

(Photo by Sagui Andrea on Pexels.com)

Last month I posted a column on Everyday Health titled How the Power of Prayer Helps Me Face My Psoriasis. I shared questions I had as a young adult with psoriasis who recently found the Christian faith:

Is it selfish to pray for yourself when the world has real problems? Is it possible to know if a spiritual practice like prayer can be a healing force in the face of a chronic condition like psoriasis? Am I wasting my energy praying if my health doesn’t improve?

You can read more about my thoughts on these questions in the column. Here I would like to interact with a couple of question that didn’t make it into the Everyday Health blog.

How Much Prayer Is Enough?

“I pray because I can’t help myself. I pray because I’m helpless. I pray because the need flows out of me all the time, waking and sleeping. It doesn’t change God. It changes me.” (Attributed to C.S. Lewis in the movie Shadowlands).

Continue reading
Standard
Family, psoriasis

How Our Couple Story Started by Sharing Health Stories

Today Lori and I are celebrating our 27th wedding anniversary. We hoped to go to Hawaii for our 25th, but then the pandemic changed our travel plans. A couple of years later we are still waiting to take that trip. Maybe it will become a 30th anniversary trip, but I hope it won’t be that long before we go.

We first me at the end of 1992 when I was looking for a co-leader for a Bible study I led off-campus with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship at UC Davis. As I look back I’m struck by how we bonded around our health journeys and how we’ve become advocates for each other and others in the community.

I wrote the excerpt below for an Everyday Health blog about five years ago. Many of my older blogs (some dating back to 2007) have been removed in an effort to boost traffic to their website. It pained me to see hundreds of my columns removed, but I thankfully do have drafts or copies of most of them.

This particular blog focused on ways Lori and I support each other with our health challenges. It’s still true today–we are each other’s care partners and greatest champions as we daily live with chronic illness and disability.

Continue reading
Standard
Mental Health, Spirituality

Working Harder at Resting

In school I became a straight “A” student after my mom gave me an earful about my grades. I received a less than stellar fourth grade report card, which my parents promptly put on the refrigerator as a badge of shame.

Then there was the dreaded parent-teacher conference. Let’s just say mom grabbed my ear while dragging me back to the car in the school parking lot afterwards. That unfortunate incident spurred me to promptly get on the achievement path.

A Type-A personality emerged in fifth grade that drove me to work tirelessly toward my goals and finish well before deadlines. Whether by carrot or by stick, my motivation to keep working served to get me through years of school and then serving the church as a minister.

Sadly, though, I get a resounding “F” for resting.

Continue reading
Standard