"In Spite of Psoriasis, I Thrive”

Deana W. doesn't hold back when she meets someone for the first time. At 44-years-old, she is not afraid to tell her new acquaintance that she has psoriasis, a chronic autoimmune disease that causes the skin on her ankles, knees, toes, fingers, elbows and the palms of her hands to peel, flake and bleed.

"People naturally want to know what's wrong with your skin," says Deana, who has had psoriasis since age 14. Talking about psoriasis openly takes the unknown out of it, she adds. "It's not catching, and then people know what to expect when they see me or shake my hand. If I can handle the person-to-person contact with confidence, then I know that things will be OK."

Deana has taken a hands-on approach to dealing with her condition. Her four-step process may be useful for anyone dealing with psoriasis:

  • Educating others
  • Following treatment
  • Living proactively
  • Controlling her emotions

Here is how she puts this process into effect every day.

Educating family, friends and colleagues

Increasing the knowledge of psoriasis in Deana's circle of support is just one of several ways she stays positive while living with psoriasis.

"It can get you down," admits Deana, who has severe plaque psoriasis, which does not go away. "Sometimes, I scratch myself without thinking, and I am a bleeding mess. Then I feel embarrassed; sometimes, I even cry."

Working with her doctor

Up until a few years ago, she was able to control her condition with topical medications. However, Deana's psoriasis has worsened, and a few months ago she began taking a biologic drug administered through injection at the doctor's office to ease her symptoms. Deana also takes nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) for psoriatic arthritis, which has developed recently in her knees and the joints of her thumbs.

Living her life

Despite psoriasis, Deana enjoys a full life as a wife, mother, grandmother and full-time personal banker. One piece of advice she has for others: Be flexible and do something fun or nurturing each day. "I hike and play tennis if my hands permit it. Sometimes I can't because of the arthritis, so I'll swim instead, or I'll spend time at a museum enjoying the exhibit. I adjust, conform and try to stay active." To stay calm, Deana also recommends prayer or meditation.

Facing her fears

"You need to discuss your fears. I talk to my primary care doctor and my dermatologist," says Deana, who was prescribed medication for depression last year. "It's hard living with a disease that affects your looks and hurts at the same time."

Despite setbacks, Deana remains focused on what truly makes her happy. "I have a home, family and friends. In spite of psoriasis, I thrive."

Have a story to share?
We’d love to hear your story! Email us your advice for coping with psoriasis at: Guides@healthmonitor.com

Published August 2011

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