In 2008 I started University, after 2 years of pissing my life away (literally). I got on to the Photography degree, even though I wanted to study Film but in my head I assumed I wouldn't be able to get on to that course - I had minimal to no self-confidence after cocking up college and then resorting to working jobs I hated whilst drinking my life away. As it turns out, after messing up my first year on photography I managed to get on the Film course, so it all worked out lovely...well, to a certain extent.
Once day, during my first year of Uni, I woke up to find a strange rash on my arm. As I was living in halls I jumped to the conclusion that it may be Meningitis, even though I've had all my vaccinations. After panicking on the phone to my Mother, I booked a doctors appointment. When I woke the next day, the rash had spread all over my body...now I was really concerned. A few weeks before I had been laid up in bed with tonsillitis, a kidney infection and conjunctivitis.
The first doctor I saw sat, flicking through Google to then respond with, "Yeah, I don't know what it is". This resulted in me feeling more panicked and as though I had some new illness which was unknown to any doctor. I decided to sign up as a temporary patient back at my family practice. The doctor looked at my skin and immediately knew what was going on. "Yep, you have Psoriasis".
I was relieved that I had been given a diagnosis, but I had no idea what it was. So this was 10 years ago, my first year of uni, young and full of life and trying to get on with things. I was informed that it was a "skin condition" and that certain gels and creams could sort it out. It's funny looking back now and even though I am still learning more and more about it, I have a much better knowledge of this disease.
WHAT IS PSORIASIS?
As mentioned, I was told it was a skin disease, and although the problem is visible and effects the skin, it is so much more than that. Psoriasis is actually a common, chronic, genetic, systemic inflammatory disease, but if you look online you will see it being described as a skin disease. Yes, to a certain extent it is, but Psoriasis is more than skin deep.
It is characterised by symptoms and signs such as elevated itchy plaques of raised red skin covered with thick silvery scales, which, as time has gone by has become a lot more obvious on myself - and is also why my blog name is RED SILVER MOUNTAINS.
WHAT I KNEW THEN VS WHAT I KNOW NOW
I started this blog a few years back after I started to gain more of an understanding about Psoriasis, and since then I have learnt so much more.
I originally had a load of lotions, moisturisers and topical creams thrown at me, and the steroid based ones worked a charm. However, you can only use them for a certain amount of time.
I then started UVB Light Therapy which was fantastic. My skin completely cleared up and I though, 'Yes! I'm all good now!" WRONG!!!!
It came back 10 times worse and I was really struggling. I had UVB again and the results were just as good as the first time. Then, after a while my skin started to get worse again.
I never knew why. I thought I was a rare case and that I was destined to be covered with Psoriasis forever. There's no cure, but there is a variety of treatments.
What I do know now, which I didn't know for so long was about the inflammatory side of Psoriasis.
"The immune system plays a key role in psoriasis. In psoriasis, a certain subset of T lymphocytes (a type of white blood cell) abnormally trigger inflammation in the skin as well as other parts of the body. These T cells produce inflammatory chemicals that cause skin cells to multiply as well as producing changes in small skin blood vessels, resulting ultimately in elevated scaling plaque of psoriasis.
Psoriasis has a genetic basis and can be inherited. Some people carry genes that make them more likely to develop psoriasis. Just because a person has genes that would make him more likely to have psoriasis doesn't mean he will have the disease. About one-third of people with psoriasis have at least one family member with the disease. Certain factors trigger psoriasis to flare up in those who have the genes.
Environmental factors such as smoking, sunburns, streptococcal sore throat, and alcoholism may affect psoriasis by increasing the frequency of flares. Injury to the skin has been known to trigger psoriasis. For example, a skin infection, skin inflammation, or even excessive scratching can activate psoriasis. A number of medications have been shown to aggravate psoriasis.
Psoriasis flare-ups can last for weeks or months. Psoriasis can go away and then return." - emedicinehealth.com
I have been tried SO many treatments, and this year was close to starting Methotrexate - a DEMARD (disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drug) which is also used a chemotherapy agent and immune system suppressant. After having to have many blood and liver tests, and a good think about my health in general, I decided not to start it and instead give UVB light therapy another go.
The reason for this? There's a few really.
1. I have already lived on different types of medication for most of my adult life and didn't want to add to that.
2. I have learnt so much more about Psoriasis from when I first had UVB treatment that I am now aware that it's more down to how I look after my body internally than anything else.
3. Methotrexate is pretty hardcore and can have horrid side-effects, not to mention that you cannot conceive when taking the drug (not that I'm trying to right now).
4. I have some inflammation on my liver and Methotrexate can/will make this MUCH worse.
This summer I have been very active, I was carefree about having my skin on show and the sun really did it wonders. It has only been the last week or so where it has started to flare again and my joints - mainly my back - are in agony and I am struggling to get around. (I'm still waiting to have more tests to see if I have Psoriatic Arthritis).
Today I went to have my UVB light therapy test strips done, and all being well, next week I will start my course of treatment again. It's amazing how things seem to come full circle.
10 years ago when I first started uni is when I was first diagnosed with Psoriasis. This week I return to Uni to study an MSc in Marketing and I start another course of treatment. Even though I am currently in agony and very stressed, I am so determind to do well on my course and look after myself inside and out.
I won't be cured, but hopefully one day I can look forward to a world where someone has managed to crack it. For now, I can keep raising awareness, look after my mind, body and soul, and go back to uni with more confidence ready to take on the world.
YAY for FREEBIES!!
And so, the Flaky Student returns.
Do you have a diagnosis of Psoriasis? How do you deal with your flare ups, or keep yourself flake free? What causes your flareups the most?
Let's starts a conversation as everyone's experiences are different. Feel free to comment or leave feedback below.