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Pushing Psoriasis to the Limits

by Howard H. Chang

Pushing Psoriasis to the Limits

I appreciate those people in my life who tell me to take it easy or slow down. The other day I talked to my parents who reminded me of just how stressful my life can be. They worry about how all of my responsibilities might impact my health in general and on my psoriasis. When I share about doing something that could make my skin worse, my friends and family often flash yellow and red warning lights.

I sometimes wish I could live without limits, or with special powers, as depicted by those fictitious characters on TV shows or in movies. But real life doesn't work that way, does it? Limitations come with being human. Those limitations may seem even greater when you have psoriasis. With psoriasis, I find there's a fine line between a low stress lifestyle and overexertion.

Striking the Right Balance with Psoriasis Limitations

I first thought about this balance when I considered starting a new degree program almost seven years ago. Now that I've graduated I'm glad that I went back to school. But looking back, life's compounding demands undoubtedly worsened the condition of my skin during busier times.

The need for greater balance also becomes evident when I travel. Recently, I took my family on a week-long trip through southwest South Dakota. We visited Mount Rushmore in the Black Hills, Badlands National Park, and local sights in Rapid City. I ended up driving over 600 miles on the trip. We saw bison, longhorn sheep, trekked through a small part of Wind Cave, and drove through tunnels blasted out from the side of mountains. It was a beautiful trip but it did flare my psoriasis as I feared.

To make matters worse. On our first day in Rapid City, I left my medication in the heat of the rental car while we ate lunch. Once I realized the mistake, I immediately called a nurse. She advised me to not use it since the heat may have compromised the medication.

Just like that one main component of my psoriasis treatment was gone for the week. Quickly changing weather with heat for a few days, then rain, thunderstorms, and the stress of miles of driving may have exacerbated things. Oh, and I never sleep that well in hotels either.

At this point I ask myself, “Am I too ambitious? Was it too much to push myself to come all the way out to a place where I can't easily replace my medications? Will all the hiking, driving, burger eating activity flare my psoriasis so badly that I can't enjoy the trip? Or should I take the health that I currently have and push out into some activities that will allow me to enrich my life?”

The Impact of Family and Friends

Later I learned that my wife worried about my skin before the trip. Once we learned I couldn't use the medication, she suggested we take a slower pace. However, I had already planned out the daily itinerary for the week before the trip even started. Who knew when I would get back again to see the beauty of South Dakota? I wanted to see it all.

This leads to another question: How much does the role of family and friends affect my decision-making process? Do they ask me to play it safe because they want me to be safe? Maybe they worry just as much—or even more--that we are sacrificing our health. I'm still trying to find that elusive balance between when to take their cues and modify my plans and when to forge ahead to show them that it's okay to let go of their worries for a little bit. It's a give and take type of situation that so often is needed in relationships.

Pushing the Limits

In the end I discovered that there were health benefits to going on this trip, even though I pushed the limits of what I thought would be good for my skin. All the green trees and rolling prairies lifted my spirits and gave me a sense of serenity. Watching bison lumber along the side of our rental minivan made for humorous bonding experiences with my family. We talked and laughed about seeing the bison all the way back to our hotel that night. The unique formations in the Badlands reignited my passion for geography as well as geology.

Among the Black Hills of South Dakota, the sky seemed limitless. Perhaps life with psoriasis will never be limitless, but there are those times when it's worth pushing those boundaries (a bit). Doing so can refresh us and it gives us a broader perspective that I believe is necessary when living with a chronic illness like psoriasis.


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Howard H. Chang is a paid spokesperson by LEO Pharma Inc. The views expressed are his own and do not reflect those of LEO Pharma Inc.

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.
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