Sunday, July 30, 2006

Physician, heal thyself

And I did! I just did!

WARNING: if the mention of flesh + cuts makes you queasy read the psoriasis bit only bcs I just took a blade to myself, in the best possible way. Oh yes I did! I'll tell you when to stop further down.

Abt 2 months ago I started feeling something hard on top of my ear cartilage, where it joins the head. It wasn't painful for a while but it bothered me just being there. Then it started getting bigger and squishy and it became obvious it was filled with pus. So one day I disinfected the whole area and my hands and gave it a few good, determined squeezes (it was quite deep), and pus did shoot out and the pressure relief was immediate. So I cleaned and disinfected again, and thought Now it will remain open and drain and that's the end of it.

How I sometimes manage to forget I have psoriasis even when I don't have any visible psoriasis is beyond me, truly it is.

So, to recap. I have psoriasis, have had it for 30 years (yey moi!). Psoriasis is a systemic disease and does not very pretty things to your body inside and out, and that is why I am barred - barred! - from giving blood bcs, it stands to reason, anyone who is given blood is in dire straits and the last thing they need is blood riddled - riddled! - with inflammatory cells, all mine, all ever-present. I entertained thought of being able to be a bonemarrow donor bcs, I was told, there was a friendly little machine that could filter the bad, bad cells and collect the good, good ones. As it turns out, all my cells are the omegas of the playground and therefore to be shunned - shunned! - at all times. In a country where so many should give blood and do not, and where even less are bonemarrow donors, this breaks my heart in a way I cannot even appropriately convey bcs I would, see, if I could.

Now, as far as diseases go, psoriasis is a little incompetent overachiever. Other people regenerate their cells in abt 28 days? We'll do it in 7! Sometimes 6! Sometimes 4! Hey, but what abt the cells that aren't quite dead yet? Never mind that, we'll just shove them up to the surface realllllly fast, and then they can all clump together and look reddishly half-alive in a most disconcerted way, and then we can call even more inflammation mediators - ooh, they're coming - and then the whole can look even redder! And scalier! It doesn't even look human anymore. And in the winter it will hurt like bloody hell bcs the skin barrier is broken.

And one of the - for you - hidden beauties of them is that no cut, however simple, is just that. You see, any skin wound turns into a love fest, no wound heals normally, it immediately turns into a psoriasis lesion JUST BECAUSE IT CAN. It's like cloning with a nudge. So pardon me if I am wary of thorns and claws [just made myself snort bcs avoiding claws is so bloody easy for a vet isn't it] bcs it's begging for trouble, one single scratch can make my dormant beauty wake up, stretch and dilligently go to work, not to mention that lesions are symmetrical, so if I get one on the left a new one will arrive without fail on the right side, approximately in the same place. It would be fascinating if I weren't the most unwilling canvas. It's called the Koebner phenomenon/isomorphic response, and I share it with sufferers from e.g. lichen, warts, systemic juvenile rheumatoid arthritis and something called molluscum contagiosum which, frankly, always - ALWAYS - makes me think of a randy little STD-dripping lobster with an Australian accent.

Back to the cyst/abscess/something, how silly of me to think it would stay open and drain. Of course it didn't bcs while squeezing I made the surrounding skin bleed the tiniest bit and what have we learnt? Koebner ensures it all becomes covered by a thick, semi-transparent slice of - whatever it is. It doesn't look like a psoriasis lesion, just like some very aggravated something in between. Wish I had saved it, I could post a pic, wouldn't you have loved that, my pretties? The end result was that it filled up again and there was no way that the pressure would be enough for it to burst through the skin. Removing the what-have-you scab doesn't work either bcs, of course, it just builds another one even thicker and faster. In my experience, if you keep pulling it it will eventually heal WITHOUT turning into psoriasis but that has only worked with very, very small scabs bcs anything bigger hurts and could get infected so I don't even try it.


Abt an hour ago I had a feel again and it was bigger and absolutely filled with pus, I could actually hear the sound of the fluid swishing around. My worry was that said pus would inevitably end up going inside rather than outside, and hallo, there's my inner ear right there, and there's my brain not too far off, and the pressure was driving me absolutely bonkers so it NEEDED TO DRAIN. All of a sudden I remembered I still had some unopened scalpel blades from when I used to dissect those poor sheep and I went hunting for one. And I found it. I cleaned the area just like they do in the hospital (hydrogen peroxide and then betadine), I washed and scrubbed and disinfected my hands and I positioned myself in front of the mirror. It's an awkward spot but was still very visible (it would, in fact, be very hard to miss it). The first tiny cut didn't hurt too much, it was more of an impression freally, but I realised that I was doing it too far below. I pricked the top and WHAT A RELIEF! This thickish chord of pus trickled down immediately, and I had my hydrogen peroxide-gauze ready to help it along with some gentle pressure (I also covered my ear, no worries). When it slowed down I enlarged the cut and some more pus came out. And then I disinfected the whole thing again, and applied a plaster over it so the betadine-soaked gauze ball could work its magic some more, and I am hopeful that, bcs it's a deeper, larger cut it will not close again and that this will be the end of it. Also, I will be bathing it in salt water regularly for the next week/fortnight. And finally, I will be going to the beach with Shrimpy's Tweedle equivalent who became my friend as well, and she too is a Dr. How practical! How terribly clever of me! The only way I'll become ill is if I a) avoid her eagle eyes and b) cannot be done at all. So it all seems to be going well, and I am EXTREMELY proud of myself! I didn't expect it to hurt loads so it's not a case of my having been exceedingly brave but there's still a bit of horror involved in deep-cutting your own flesh. But the relief, oh I cannot begin to describe the relief! It is stinging a bit but well, it's just been cut open and liberally doused with H2O2 and betadine, what else could it be doing.

I lanced my own abscess, people! *pats back*

So yes, off to the beach tomorrow where, alas, I'll have no internet connection. It's positively primitive but it can't be helped. ?

On a fluffy note, yesterday I took extra care of my hair, then exfoliated and then exfoliated some more, then applied some self-tanner (Kanebo, I've found Kanebo here! *SWOON*), and re-applied again - and I now sport a very healthy glow. Also, lost my mind completely and bought Estée Lauder's Perfectionist CP+ bcs all the fashion blogistas I read rave abt it so much. It costs 100 euros here, ONE HUNDRED EUROS. It's obscene, thoroughly disgusting. Am still in a bit of a shock, to tell you the truth, but sometime life needs to be shown what we want rather than holding out till it is the way it should be for us to actually get the things we want to. Yes? And the serum DOES make your skin immediately velvety, so I am hopeful I will come back looking fabulously rested and fabulously fabulous.




At 31/7/06 04:48, Blogger Manuela said...

I am soo soo proud my dear!!!

No, no... not of YOU... of ME you silly thing! Because I READ THE WHOLE THING AND DIDN'T SWOON!

See... now you're proud of me too. Isn't this grand.

At 31/7/06 09:38, Blogger brooksba said...

Dahling! You rock! Way to go. I'm glad that you were able to lance your abscess. Enjoy the beach, relax, have a grand time, and just be you. Can't wait to hear stories (and will there be pictures? I like pictures!)


At 31/7/06 12:40, Blogger Meri-ann said...

I'm like Manuela, I totally can't believe I read ALL of the post!! But I'm also hugely proud of you for doing such a brave thing, I would have been a pile of mush on the ground drowning in pus.....
I love the Perfectionist as well, have you tried the Idealist? Tres divine....

At 31/7/06 13:22, Blogger portuguesa nova said...

oh my God, I am so pitifully obssessed with pus filled boils and all other squirty skin aberrations, it's not even funny.

Your story reminds me of this David Sedaris article.

I had no idea that psoriasis was such an evil thing. When I lived in Japan, my town was located on a volcanic island, and the locals believed that bathing in the hot springs cured psoriasis (which obviously is not true if it's all about cellular stuff)...however, maybe instead of the beach, this is your excuse to head over to Madeira? Isn't there a volcano there?

At 31/7/06 13:43, Blogger The Lioness said...

Wha? Was that a self-absorbed preggo brain? Oh all right, I AM proud of you.

Beth you can rest assured there'll be pics! And I hope stories as well.

Meri-Ann, do tell more! In which way is it divine? Not that I could afford it any time soon - but must be fully informed!

PN, maybe we can plan my next one for when you're in town. What I meant abt P. was, you can go into remission ans stay in remission all your life - and that would actually decrease the inflammation so maybe even blood donating would be possible. There are loads of treatments that help though they work for different people differently - or not at all. For one, I refuse to accept chemo, it's not worth it getting rid of P. to then have kidney or skin cancer, not at all. But you will always carry the genes and you can never say I got rid of it for good. Not yet anyway. I find that sun + sea alone work wonders for me and would much rather NOT go to Madeira, eh, didn't like the island at all. Too... green, and the winding roads gave me a constant frigth. The Azores now... *SIGH* Not a volcano fan, sadly. Cannot believe I actually walked all the way down one in Hawaii. That was pre-tsunami though, would never happen now. Just read the Sedaris story, that was an incredibly dangerous thing to do, one should never, ever lance boils! He is mad. Funny, though. And I know you'll understand this: I love abscess and teeth cleaning bcs it's instant gratification and the stuff that comes out/becomes dislogded is so bloody interesting. Right?

At 31/7/06 15:18, Blogger Diana said...

Bravo, dahling! Nerves of shiny, tempered steel! Isn't pus satisfying?

Next! On to the self appendectomy! Don't forget your camera for that one.

At 31/7/06 18:05, Blogger CarpeDM said...

Hey, I'm with Manuela. I read the entire thing and didn't swoon either. And I'm not pregnant. Well, I better not be else I am going to be extremely pissed off that I had sex and didn't remember it.

But I get it. I have to constantly pull scabs off (which leave lovely little scars but hey, it is satisfying). I've been known to poke away at ingrown hairs that have exploded into pus filled gross things.

This, however, just proves that you are, without a doubt, super woman.

Have fun at the beach! Love you!

At 31/7/06 22:23, Blogger Udge said...

Well, if you can do that to/by yourself (and if we don't hear in a week or so that your ear has fallen off) you should make an excellent vet.

Enjoy the beach.

At 4/8/06 07:53, Blogger Lord Chimmy said...

I never knew all that about psoriasis. I simply thought it was just a terribly annoying skin condition.

As for lancing your own abscess...excellent. Once I cut off an acrochordon (aka skin tag) with a pair of surgical scissors. The marvel of the procedure was that it was between my shoulder blades, and I really had to pull a yoga move to reach it with the scissors.

You're vet skills are going to make you an excellent survivalist.

At 11/8/06 01:50, Blogger Cat, Galloping said...

i just got a new drug for my psoriasis that supposedly combines the benefits of um, the steroids and the um what's the other one that helps itching? Well anyway it's called Taclonex and unlike my previous drugs you only need it 1x/day and you don't need to take breaks every two weeks. Costs a bloody fortune though. thought i'd pass that along.


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