Last night I wrote a piece about my ulcerative colitis – or more to the point, what I think precipitated its onset. It’s a long, miserable story about a horrible man and an abusive relationship, and I’ll post it here at some point when I feel like depressing the hell out of you all 🙂
Anyway, it got me thinking about two of my other health issues, one of which started during the same relationship, and the other which I’ve had almost all my life.
When I was 25, I suddenly became covered in scaly red spots, which were about 5-10mm in diameter. They covered my legs and stomach, and I also had some on my arms and torso. It took me a few months to have them checked out (I have NO idea how I was not more concerned that I had spots covering my body for months!), and the dermatologist diagnosed psoriasis. Or as I like to say, ‘psoriasis’. I was DEVASTATED. I Googled it and foresaw a future riddled with scales and raw, unsightly patches of skin; flaking scalp and oozing sores.
He prescribed lotions and potions that cost the earth – lots of coal-tar concoctions – which kinda-sorta helped. The major outbreak cleared up, but the spots never disappeared altogether. To this day, I have between 10 and 20 on my body at any given time. They are mostly on my legs, but right now I also have two on my butt, some on my ribs and a few on my back and arms. They look like this:
But the point is that it’s surely not psoriasis. A few years after my ‘diagnosis’, my sister went to see him about a similar skin condition, and he must’ve pulled my file out too. He mumbled something to her about having probably ‘misdiagnosed’ me, and to tell me that maybe it was just eczema actually. I must just say that we have many excellent doctors in South Africa, but he wasn’t one of them!
This also highlights the danger of diagnosing a patient too soon, or without enough evidence. I was inconsolable at the diagnosis, and now look: I’m no longer covered in spots, and while they do itch and irritate me a bit, it’s hardly psoriasis.
As an aside, the gastroenterologist I visited in 2012, who performed a gastroscopy and colonscopy, didn’t diagnose any illness. He didn’t want to label it ‘colitis’ in case it was a once-off occurrence. Only late last year did my physician put a name to it – two long, bloody flares later.
I also get weird ‘blisters’ on my hands and feet. They’re small and itchy, and when they pop, they leave dry, scaly patches behind. But they are also hardly noticeable to anyone but me. My sister gets this too.
I also have ONE WART that I just cannot get rid of! It’s the legacy of my horrid ex, I do believe.
I’ve had asthma almost my whole life. I was diagnosed at the age of 2 or 3, when I used to have severe attacks. I was told I’d grow out of it, but I never really did. While I no longer (touch wood) have asthma attacks, and haven’t for many years, I still experience wheezing and tightness in my chest when I exercise, become ill, or when I’m around cats and dogs.
I’m VERY allergic to pets, though dogs are worse than cats. I also tend to become accustomed to my own pets. I don’t have any right now, but we’d love to get a cat when we have a bigger place and it can play outside. When I was diagnosed asthmatic and allergic-to-everything-on-the-planet (my allergy tests are a joke and I even come out in red spots after I shower, swim in the sea or get too hot/cold), my mom was told to get rid of her cats but she refused! I think it probably made me more resilient.
Other than that, I’m pretty healthy. I don’t generally suffer from winter colds and flu, nor do I get stomach bugs (weirdly enough!) or any other illnesses, usually.
I’ve heard of other people with IBD who also have eczema, psoriasis or other conditions, and I often wonder if there’s a link. For me, I definitely think the stress of my bad relationship precipitated both the dermatological and digestive problems.
Do you have any other health issues besides your digestive problems?