My Life with Psoriasis

May 17, 2012 at 13:06

Little Miss Sicky Poo

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Psoriasis Sucks!
Let’s face it.  If you have it, you know what I’m talking about.  Unfortunately I’m a long time veteran of this disease.  In fact it’s been 27 years since I was first diagnosed.  I didn’t realize it at the time (probably because I was 10), but that day marked the beginning of a very frustrating, emotional and self esteem sucking journey for me.

Being Different
I had to suffer the horror of being the subject of case studies and medical learning journals.  Pictures were taken of my legs because it was unusual for someone of my age to be diagnosed with psoriasis.  Those days will always stick with me.  I knew I was different, especially when the teasing started at school.  I spent the next 2 decades wearing pants year round and suffering extreme anxiety during beach trips with school friends.  Oh, and of course trying to find the magic bullet that would make me look like all of the other girls at school.

Endless Medications
In those days tar based medications were the only thing available which means that I smelled like a newly paved road most of the time…yay!  To add insult to injury, they weren’t very effective at all.  Eventually “technology” progressed to topical steroids.  I thought these were a godsend at first but unfortunately you could only use them 2 weeks at a time and during the down times, it would just come back.  I spent decades using various topical steroids.  By the time I was in my mid 20′s I noticed that the skin on my legs was starting to look different.  What was even more disturbing was that I was getting massive and deep bruises all over my legs!  I could gently touch my leg and a bruise would appear.  The skin on my legs had become severely thinned from all the steroids and I looked like I had been beaten with a bat.  I wanted to die.  I was so embarrassed.

A Seed is Planted
I ended up having to go on Tazorac (yet another drug) to thicken up the skin.  It took over a year to stop the bruising but the skin on my legs will always look different.  In my late 20′s I switched dermatologists.  My new doctor had a very different approach to psoriasis, one that I wish I had paid more attention to.  She started talking about Leaky Gut Syndrome and wanted me to abandon grains and certain types of food to heal my gut.  She said that if my gut was healthy, that my psoriasis may go into remission.  I was young and immature and what she was saying was so far from anything that I had ever heard from a doctor’s mouth that I dismissed her as a quack.  What a mistake!  Sorry Dr. Tidaldi!  I now know that you were ahead of your time and far smarter than those other doctors.

I went back to the drugs for a while, but Dr. Tidaldi’s advice never really went far from my conscience mind.  I started to experiment with food and diet and other natural alternatives.  Over the next 5 years I became adept at “controlling” my psoriasis but was never able to clear it.  I’m sure this was due to the fact that I smoked and drank like a fish!

Going Primal
I eventually stopped smoking and mellowed out with the vodka and Red Bull and started getting more serious about using diet to improve my health and condition.  If you’ve read my bio, you know what happens next.  That’s right, I discovered the primal/paleo lifestyle and my psoriasis finally cleared up!  My skin looks better than it ever has, not just on my legs but everywhere.  I still get tiny spots here and there but this is usually due to moments that I go non-primal (which are rather infrequent).  You cannot be cured of this disease but you don’t need to suffer with it.  I know that now.

Lessons I’ve Learned
I see psoriasis as a blessing now (although it will totally always suck), because I may never have sought out a better diet or lifestyle had I not been plagued with it.  It was my motivation to understand how my body works and what makes me healthy.  Psoriasis is like a physical barometer.  I know when I’m on the right track because it goes away.  When things start getting bad it usually means that I’m not 100%.  It may sound corny, but psoriasis also taught me how to be strong and how to accept my differences.  The truth is, everybody’s got them, mine are just more obvious to others.

Drugs Will Never be the Answer
Recently an old friend wrote me and told me that her boyfriend was diagnosed with psoriasis.  She was asking me what drugs I recommend since I had years of experience with this disease.  My advice to her was that he needed to change his lifestyle and diet, not get a fancy new drug.  I never heard back from her.  I know this is not what you want to hear if you have psoriasis but it’s the truth.  Any doctor that tells you that diet does not play into this disease is either a liar, uninformed or getting a kickback from one of those $1000 designer drugs.

If you go the route of drugs, you will always be on drugs and you will inevitably suffer the side effects of those drugs.  If you change your lifestyle and diet you can be freed from them.  I believe that a paleo lifestyle is far more sustainable than a medicated one.

If you’ve got psoriasis, switch to a Paleo diet for a month and see what happens.  I think you’ll be surprised.  Here’s what I do to keep things in check:

  1. Follow a primal/paleo diet
  2. Take fish oil pills daily
  3. Take dandelion root 2 times a day to help flush out toxin build up in the liver
  4. Use coconut oil as a moisturizer
  5. Exfoliate a few times a week with a natural oil and salt scrub (heaven)!

 

Cool Side Note: The pictures of the girl with psoriasis are actually of CariDee English, the 2006 winner of America’s Top Model.  She bravely posed for this photo shoot during a psoriasis flare up!  I have to give her props…that’s pretty amazing!

 

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