I Need a Psoriasis Vacation
The other day I experienced an awful day at work. Not just a bad one that I could get over in a day or two, but an I-need-a-vacation horrible kind. Some people decided to make life difficult for me. I told my wife what happened, which spun the both of us into mini-crisis mode. Thankfully, we had a vacation with the family planned just in time to get away from it all.
I appreciate holidays and the time off afforded from my job. Those much-needed breaks allow me to catch my breath, spend time with family, and enjoy my hobbies. But, what about my other full-time job, psoriasis? I need breaks from psoriasis just as much as I need breaks from work. Unfortunately, I don't have any vacation days to utilize for that purpose.
Always on My Mind
Psoriasis is always on my mind. Okay, I know I'm taught to not ever use extreme words like “always” and “never.” I do, though, feel like psoriasis doesn't stray far from my thoughts. Treatments alone keep me on a psoriasis routine at regular intervals. Doctor visits, trips to the pharmacy for medication refills, and periodic lab tests add to the job description.
Psoriasis, in a way, is another job although one without the monthly paycheck or fringe benefits. This job actually takes up a lot of time, doesn't let up much, and costs me money every month. The psoriasis “job” is one I would gladly resign from. I'm a veteran of psoriasis for almost forty years with no sign of retirement coming any time soon.
If you have a chronic illness, like psoriasis, you can undoubtedly relate to my plight. It feels like I need to take psoriasis into account in nearly every area of my life. From the time I get dressed in the morning (wear loose fitting cotton clothes), to what I eat in the morning (as I've noticed certain foods may trigger my symptoms) I have to think about what's best for my psoriasis. You probably have different routines, or have a different approach to clothing or diet, but, like me, you might relate to how psoriasis can dominate each day.
Psoriasis tends to cycle for me from not-so-bad, to awful, to oh-man-I-can't-take-this, and back again. I have rarely experienced a total break from psoriasis lesions covering my skin. Those moments come so infrequently that I remember them like the proverbial elephant who never forgets.
One time, as a teenager, my dad set up an above ground pool in the backyard. I reveled in that eight-foot radius pool that summer and practically lived in that water every other day. Miraculously, it seemed that my skin began to clear. I thought the pool water could do something magical but now I wonder if the extra sunlight I enjoyed may have deserved the credit. It didn’t last more than a couple months as autumn arrived, and with it, a return of psoriatic skin.
The next time I experienced a “break from psoriasis” was with my first systemic medication—pills I took once a week as a college student. Turning to the pills helped me so much that I could see my skin again. But, like the pool waters, the effectiveness of those pills eventually wore off and by winter the spots on my skin seemed as innumerable as the stars in the sky to me.
A few other times, I believe that travel may have helped improve my skin. I could never quite figure out if a certain climate or location was simply more “psoriasis-friendly” for me or if something else was at play. During one six-week trip to East Asia, my skin cleared in a couple weeks but psoriasis started to return near the end of my time there. My one trip to Africa and a couple trips to Europe did pretty much the same for me.
I do not currently have a secret formula to “take a vacation” from my psoriasis, nor can I endorse doing anything that allowed for a break from my psoriasis in the past. These all turned out to be one-time, non-reproducible experiences for me.
Can't Quit Yet
I still dream about retiring from psoriasis someday, just as I do with bidding my day job farewell from time to time. But I can't retire from my psoriasis any more than I can retire from my employment. It's not my choice, anyhow, so those daydreams only provide a brief respite from the daily grind of living with, and caring for, my chronic health condition.
Not all days with psoriasis, thankfully, are the horrible, I-have-to-get-away kind of days. Some days breeze by without much trouble. Other days need extra maintenance but are manageable. My philosophy is to just keep going. For better or worse, I can't quit my reality and I refuse to give up on the dream. With that said, I still look forward to taking more “psoriasis vacations” every now and again.
Any suggestions made are not intended to replace the advice of a qualified medical professional. Please consult your healthcare provider prior to making any changes to your treatment, exercise or diet routine.