The 1990’s were a difficult decade in our home, with many struggles to contend with. My youngest daughter was diagnosed with a rare illness when she was only two years old. This took a great toll on our family as she needed all our attention. My daughter Melini was a bright pupil at school and worked hard. I had very little time to spend with her during that traumatic period. I must add that she did not need prompting to give off her best academically. She loved reading and I would often find her reading without the light switched on in the middle of the night. I spoke to her on many occasions, hoping she would stop, however, she needed glasses at an early age. At the same time, I as the mum was having to play a dual parental role. I battled with this and ended up in hospital on many occasions due to ill health.
I was quite young myself and didn’t realize that this was having a negative effect on my eldest child. In hindsight I could have done things differently. In the year 1994, I slowly began to lose weight through a corrective eating program. As the weight rolled off, I began gaining confidence. By the end of 1996, I had lost a total of 50kgs. My starting weight was 132kgs. In May of 1997, I lost my dad whom the girls also loved very much. There was also much upheaval at home during this time. The situation gave rise to the start of acute psoriasis on my child’s scalp. There were thick layers of scale-like patches all over her head. I took her to various dermatologists who treated her with steroids and coal tar treatment but nothing worked. More signs of psoriasis were showing on her skin as well, and as she was gearing up for her matric exams it got worse. Many of my colleagues at work suggested various doctors but no treatment really worked.
I even tried olive oil to keep the head moist, but the psoriasis came back double furious. By the end of 1998, there were signs of severe psoriasis on my scalp. Months later it also flooded my body. I found this hard to accept. It now meant that both of us needed a dermatologist. During those years not much was known regarding treatment. The only known medical treatment was tar and steroid injections. This did not work in our case so we continued seeking alternative therapy. Nothing really works long-term. The psoriasis made me very self-conscious. I remember scales falling all over my clothes, and on my pillow at night. I used to love entertaining and cooking but felt inadequate with my hands and legs having red psoriasis plaques. I didn’t think anyone would even want to eat at my home. I became more reserved and isolated.
Sometime later we found out that methotrexate would assist in controlling psoriasis. However long-term use could cause liver damage. Both Melini and I went onto it together. I got very sick at first and gave up but Melini continued. She found much relief with the treatment which cleared the ailment for a while. She had to stop it for about a year before trying to fall pregnant after being warned about the dangers by her doctor.
I was encouraged to try the treatment again and found it helped me too. We had to have regular blood tests every three months. At one of these tests, damage to the liver was noted and I had to stop immediately.
Since then I have accepted my journey with psoriasis and have put in place coping mechanisms. I use emulsifying ointment with tar, which helps for a while. After a while, I change medication again. Melini and I often share information with each other and keep looking ahead with a positive mindset.
I go to the gym regularly, do my best to motivate other women, and always try to look at the bright side of life.