Happy Thanksgiving! I’m looking forward to a couple of days off at home for the long weekend. We have a lot going on with parents coming over for dinner on the holiday, Black Friday shopping, a soccer tournament for my son, a wedding, etc. We aren’t going away for the holiday, but we’ll be plenty busy traveling around town. As usual, we will also have our traditional giving thanks around the table during our Thanksgiving meal. But before then I want to use this space in the blog to consider if I would give thanks for psoriasis.
I wrote a blog entry titled Top Ten Things To Be Grateful For About … Psoriasis? a couple years ago. When I look at that list I just have to smile. Smiles come at a premium when I think about psoriasis, so every once in a while I need to make myself see the positive in what often feels like an unpleasant experience. It’s not always easy to do so.
I can name a number of headwinds to my answering “yes” to the question of being grateful for psoriasis. For example, a recent study showed a potential link between psoriasis and high-density lipoprotein (HDL). The news article I read opened with a somewhat alarming finding:
Inflammation caused by psoriasis may trigger changes in a person’s cholesterol, including weakening the function of high-density lipoprotein (HDL), the “good” cholesterol, new research suggest.
The researchers said that, if confirmed, their findings could help explain why people with psoriasis — a chronic skin condition — are at greater risk for heart attack, stroke and cardiovascular death, especially if the psoriasis is moderate to severe.
Hearing that news wasn’t something I needed in the wake of my recent high blood pressure and cholesterol readings. But as I continued to read, I found a silver lining. The study’s author, Dr. Joel M. Gefland, said the new research may lead to a better understanding of why psoriasis sufferers have increased risks for vascular disease. While I don’t like having the increased risk for heart disease, at least the research is progressing.
Another headwind to appreciating psoriasis is the social stigma and lack of understanding people display about the condition. I read a couple of Chinese proverbs that say, “The tall tree is crushed by the wind,” and “a rock that protrudes from the riverbank will be washed away by the current.” Who wants to stand out when you’ll be metaphorically “crushed” or “washed away?” Recently I felt a bit crushed when an acquaintance recently queried, “How do you have so much to write about psoriasis?” Inside I screamed, “Read the blog and you’ll find out!” Instead I just ignored the question and moved on. After I calmed down I felt glad that those who have psoriasis understand why there’s a lot to talk and write about it, and how I’ve come to know more and more people through the blog and elsewhere. I’m still grateful for not feeling alone with psoriasis.
Potential links to cardiovascular disease, social stigma, and awkwardness, along with treatment difficulties, seasonal flares, and dietary restrictions could keep me from truly enjoying Thanksgiving. Yet this year I am still grateful for psoriasis. By my age most everyone starts to get some ailment, sickness, or disease. I’ve lived with mine for many years and am not as surprised or too overwhelmed when some other health issue arises. I am who I am today partly because of psoriasis — it has made me a more patient, compassionate, and resilient person.
Each year I ask for something I can’t buy for Christmas. Each year I usually ask for my psoriasis to miraculously disappear. Poof. Gone. This year, however, I have something else to ask for. This year, while I wouldn’t complain if I didn’t have psoriasis, I will still find ways to give thanks for it. Bring on the turkey and ham, I’m ready now to share what I’m thankful for!