Everyone knows how the Chinese Water Torture works, right? Prisoner is immobilized, slow dripping water set to slowly drive them insane by dripping on their forehead. I'm sure this would be a most effective means of torture. It's non-lethal, and it's relentless. I can think of an even better way to torture someone. Make them itch. Make them itch so badly that no matter what they do, no matter how much they scratch, even to the point of rending their own flesh, the itch never goes away. It will break them, I guarantee it. Not right away, of course. But over a long period of time, if it never stops.. non-lethal*, yet relentless.
Welcome to Psoriasis.
I remember when I was younger, my mom using tar-based shampoo that smelled horrible and made her hair very thin, and trying various medications, and being out in the sun every chance she could get. Her body was peppered with psoriasis plaques, small red patches with silvery white centers that itched. Her feet were thickly calloused, and toenails very thick and tough. I don't recall her ever actually complaining about it in my presence, though I could tell it bothered her greatly, and did a number on her self-esteem. My aunt and uncle also suffered similarly, as well as her daughter, my cousin. I remember being terrified when I was little that I would inherit this, since it seemed to pass through the women in our family primarily. When would I start seeing the blemishes on my skin? When would I start itching?
After reaching a certain age, you feel like you've done it. You beat the odds! It skipped a generation - Yay!! It started out as something trivial, a small itch between a pair of toes. Surely just athlete's foot. It didn't go away, even after a strict medication regime. It spread, first to the other toes, then to the soles of the feet. My hands started to itch, and flake, and crack and bleed. I was thirty-six for godssakes. I was SAFE. I made it through my childhood, teens, into adulthood. THIS SHOULDN'T BE HAPPENING. And yet it was.
I've always had sensitive skin. Make-up has always been a trial to me, no matter how organic, hypo-allergenic this will NEVER EVER BOTHER YOUR SKIN EVER!! Yeah. They always do after awhile. It's not just my face. I'll be sitting, and nothing will have changed, but suddenly I'll get red welts on my skin from who knows what, something that blew onto my skin, or that I brushed against inadvertently a few minutes earlier. Grocery shopping in short sleeves is a trial because I always forget and lean on the shopping cart handle, and then spend the rest of the trip itching the raised red areas on my arms that touched it. Snug clothing irritates horribly. The running joke is that I hate pants and bras.. well.. considering the entire time I'm wearing them there's at least a couple points of snug clothing contact that are itching and driving me nuts, can you blame me?
I know I shouldn't complain, my hands have cleared up and really my outbreak is confined to mostly one foot. But it gets so bad I will scratch til my skin is torn and bleeding, just because pain is better than the non-stop itching. It keeps me up late at night, since there's no distractions to help me ignore it once I'm laying in bed and all is quiet. It wakes me from sleep and takes me hours to get back to sleep. I've tried lotions, creams, scary tar-based concoctions (hi mom!) with dire possible cancer-causing warnings. Nothing has really helped. I suppose I shall go back to the dermatologist and see whatever crazy treatments they can come up with. Perhaps sun lamps, lord knows we don't get enough sun in Seattle. Til then, it's just the relentless drip, drip, drip.
*yes, I'm aware that some severe forms of psoriasis can in fact be fatal. I am blessed in that I have a very mild form.