Could A Closed Line Of Communication Be Keeping You Sick?

Photo by How-Soon Ngu on Unsplash

Yesterday morning I went to see my new dermatologist about a condition on the bottoms of my feet. This condition has been ongoing since 2002, and doctors have diagnosed it as staphylococcus, athlete’s foot, psoriasis, and allergic contact dermatitis. And which the doctor chooses depends upon that doctor’s specialty. Those who were not dermatologists said it was staphylococcus, athlete’s foot, or psoriasis. And those who were dermatologists said it was allergic contact dermatitis. Medication prescribed for allergic contact dermatitis has helped but stops after a while. That is what has happened now. One of my creams does not seem to be working as it should.

I am legally blind and cannot drive. So I had to take paratransit (the old people bus) to get to my appointment. And, I had to leave two hours earlier than I needed to so the driver didn’t have to drive back and forth all morning. My appointment time was at about the same time that he would be picking up his first ride from the hospital. And, she lived quite a distance from me. So picking me up before taking her to the hospital made more sense.

The dermatologist (actually, his physician assistant) saw me early. I was grateful for that. And I did expect my appointment to be more talk than anything else, but I didn’t expect it to be as short as it was. She looked at my feet and told me to stop applying the cream for a few weeks. Then, she wants me to call back in and make an appointment for a biopsy. That way, we can see if this still is allergic contact dermatitis. But it might be something like psoriatic arthritis.

I am riddled with arthritis from the middle of my back on down and have been for years. So I would not be surprised if that turned out to be the diagnosis. But I have never believed any doctor, nurse practitioner, and physician assistant who has diagnosed the condition on my feet as psoriasis. And I guess that might be because my feet don’t look anything like my neighbor’s arms did when we were kids. His were big ugly hard white scales.

I lived in Florida when this condition on my feet first flared up. And Florida was one of the last places on earth I should have been. I have a lot of allergies, and most of my main allergens are native to Florida and other states with palm trees (one of my worst allergens). I was so sick down there my doctors told me the best prescription they could give me was to get out of Florida and stay out. And that was okay with me because not everybody’s idea of paradise consists of sunshine and palm trees. I prefer mountains and snow and love New England, Long Island, and Jersey Shores.

It is possible that what I have is acquired keratoderma (thickening of the soles of my feet). It is the only condition that makes sense right now. And I would share a picture of what it looks like, but I know this is a multicultural site. So some people are offended by the sight of soles. Others are prone to be squeamish when they see any ugly or open sore. So it is best not to show anyone my feet. Not that they are a horrid mess. I don’t even like to see them. But I digress.

It has been almost thirty-six hours since I applied any ointment to my feet. And the last ointment I used was not the one with the steroid. I am neither itching more nor feeling better. But I think the fissure I’ve been dealing with for the past few weeks has finally decided to begin to heal. And I believe that is only because a new one is also forming. It’s kind of hard to tell because they are so small. But, boy, do they hurt when I stand.

Have you ever had an illness or condition that neither you nor your doctor could seem to pinpoint? Did you try to cure it with over-the-counter medications? Did any of them work, and if so, for how long? If your doctor(s) prescribed anything, did the prescription work, even a little bit? How long have (or had) you been living with this chronic condition or illness?

And, you do not have to tell me what it is because I respect your right to privacy. So, I am not interested in what you have. I am interested in how you are dealing with it. What are some things you do from an emotional standpoint to make it through each day?

Years ago, there was a commercial for the prescription drug Cymbalta. The tagline was “depression hurts.” Speaking from experience, no matter how depression develops, that tagline is the Gospel. So, if we have an illness or condition that we cannot seem to heal and that is getting us down, other parts of our bodies will begin to suffer. And when that happens, our relationships with our families, friends, coworkers, neighbors and total strangers will suffer as well.

Yesterday, my cousin (like my sister, aunt, mother, cousin, and best friend rolled up all into one) wanted to be upset when I told her how my dermatological appointment went. And, she was surprised that I didn’t want to go that route. But I didn’t see the point. This condition on my feet has been ongoing since 2002. And, despite my legal blindness and impending bilateral knee replacement, I am fine. So, I asked her why I should ruin a good thing by dwelling on the coulda, woulda, shoulda, and what-ifs that might make the condition of my feet worse or trigger something else. And, she immediately saw my point and changed her mind about it.

My cousin is sixteen years older than I am and has had fibromyalgia for as long as I have had this condition on my feet. But even though our grandfathers were brothers, and her father was my grandfather’s favorite nephew, we have never met face-to-face and have only been talking online and on the phone for about four years. Her father was a Lieutenant Colonel in the Army Special Forces. But I wonder how emotionally and physically healthy the two of us might be today if we had been in contact with each other since the day that I was born. We might still be the same. But given how good our interactions have been for each other in this short amount of time, I would like to believe we would have been much happier and healthier than we are today.

Communication is necessary when maintaining civility (in the household) and maintaining physical and emotional health. So that (pick a malady) that you are experiencing now might go away if you get up and do something yourself instead of leaving it all for your children or spouse to do. Then, sit down and talk with your family about how you have been feeling, apologize to them, and ask them to please help you help yourself to start to feel better again. And don’t forget to spend some time with your pets as well. If you haven’t been walking your dog, now is the time to do it. Yes, even if it is up and down the driveway until you can walk a little further, you and the dog will benefit from those walks. And I know this because there was a time when I could barely make it to our mailbox at the bottom of the hill and back, let alone the three steps off our deck.

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Michelle Rostykus

Michelle Rostykus

Mother, sister, aunt, great-aunt, cousin, friend; love being a chamberlain and courtier to my six-year-old Brindled American Shorthair and living in the country