Something happened towards the end of 2012 that made me think about what eases the itch and annoyance of psoriasis. December with it’s bitterly cold start and then the sodden weather did not work well with my skin, making it very dry and often sore. Even upping my usual concoction of topical treatments and moisturisers couldn’t fend off a small flare up.
It has calmed down again now but December was looking to finish with an irritable me. To put it bluntly I was getting pissed off with the whole thing. It’s December, Christmas, and psoriasis thought it would come and stay for the holidays like an unwelcome guest who then takes over your home and daily routine.
There were a few other issues adding to my stress. Being a short month, work was busy, targets pushed forward to at least limit the damage of being closed for a week. There was a personal issue to which didn’t help what looked like a bout of depression looming overhead. So I tried to get on with things, played Christmas songs to lighten my mood as I failed in an early attempt to get excited about Christmas.
Then the cold came, a stinking cold, worse than man flu, and I’m not just exaggerating as my wife had it too. I’ve mentioned colds with psoriasis before, so another little flare up comes along and I start thinking that psoriasis is in fact the Ebenezer Scrooge of Christmas as those red patches scream “Bah, Humbug” at me.
So what do you do? Well, first you ask for the three spirits to visit. These turned out to be Sambuca, Gin and Jack Daniel’s. Not all in one go but they did do it all before Christmas so I didn’t miss the day itself, well they can do that, they’re spirits, of course they can. (I watch many versions of A Christmas Carol every year). In case you’re wondering, I didn’t really turn to drink to forget my psoriasis but I must admit, it was very tempting. (Please drink responsibly).
As December progressed I realised I was scratching every day, and sometimes for much of the day. I continued my treatments, continued trying to get on with things, had a few more wobbles, pulled myself back up and balanced precariously at the top of a cliff looking down into a pit of despair that seemed to have a neon Enter sign glowing in the darkness.
I desperately kept trying to find ways to forget the itching but never quite managed it. As you may have gathered, I never fell in that pit as I had a few ropes holding me up, mainly my family and friends and a few wonderful moments of dining out and, of course, waking excitedly on Christmas day to open presents. (I may be 40 but I’m still a child at Christmas). None of this actually made me forget about my psoriasis though and I long for a moment when it will not even be on my mind, even just for a couple of hours.
Those couple of hours came. Yes, I had two hours where I didn’t even think about my skin, I didn’t scratch, didn’t fidget, my psoriasis was gone. It came in the shape of a show, a musical in the West End. I think maybe the three spirits of Christmas Past, Present and Future did have a word with my psoriasis as the show we went to was Scrooge The Musical. We have seen this before and as the legend that is Tommy Steele was again starring in the title role, we just had to go back and see it again. From the moment the curtain raised and the orchestra struck up the first few bars of the opening song, I was lost, a smile appeared on my face and life was worry free.
I sat there, immersed in the music and laughter, singing along in my head, occasionally out loud, feet tapping. Now I wasn’t sat there thinking, oh I’m not itching, I just wasn’t thinking at all. No dark thoughts going round my head, my hands not reaching down for a sneaky scratch of my legs. Nothing other than sheer joy of watching a great show. I’m not sure there are many other forms of entertainment that can do this. The West End is a magical place and if you bottle up that feeling and sell it, there’s a ready-made market of buyers out there. It was only sometime after the show that I suddenly realised that I hadn’t scratched or even thought about it.
Part of dealing with psoriasis is having to cope with the mental issues, in fact I’d say that’s the hardest part. I would quite happily deal with psoriasis for the rest of my life if when I put my meds on I still didn’t itch (ever) and didn’t worry about how I looked or how I felt. I just don’t want to be thinking about it all the time which is where I am with it at the moment.
So to Mr Tommy Steele, Bill Kenwright, the production staff, orchestra & performers and of course the wonderful London Palladium, there really is only one thing I can say to you… “Thank you very much”.