Saturday, December 3, 2011


As we grow older, we become more aware and susceptible to all sorts of illnesses--arthritis, high blood pressure, diabetes, stroke, Alzheimer's. But for me there is one I really dread, and has inspired me to come up with a philosophy I call ABP, which stands for Anything But Psoriasis. Yes, psoriasis, that skin condition that produces scaly red and white rashes. But it's not the condition itself that scares me, it's the treatment.

The most successful treatment for moderate to severe psoriasis is Stelara. There are a lot of commercials for this pharmaceutical product, and I am convinced just watching those ads can be harmful to our health. Remember, this is a treatment for a skin condition, an inconvenient and ugly skin condition, but we're not talking about Muscular Dystrophy or leukemia here. And every commercial, by law, has to contain a litany of side effects--those things you can get if you actually take the medication advertised. In the case of Stelara, it doesn't seem like a great trade-off to me. Stelara does work, 75% of the psoriasis patients taking it notice a major improvement.

The side effects could, however, do you in even before your skin clears up. First of all, they tell you that Stelara will lower your ability to fight infection, including some serious infections that may require hospitalization. The drug may also increase the risk for cancer. And you could have headaches, seizures, confusion, vision problems--all of which may be signs of a rare, potentially fatal brain condition. That condition is known as RPLS, or Reversible Posterior Leukoencephalopathy syndrome, and no one knows what causes it, except Stelara sometimes seems to.

And then there are allergic reactions to the drug, like feeling faint, swelling of your face, eyelids, tongue, or throat, and trouble breathing.

So I picture myself have developed psoriasis, and a possible dialogue like this:

FRIEND: "Hi Jerry, how's that little skin problem you were having?"
ME: "You mean that moderate case of plaque psoriasis? It's doing great, my arms and neck are all cleared up."
FRIEND: Great! Everything else O.K.?"
ME: "Not really. My skin looks and feels fantastic. But I keep getting infections, have gotten cancer, and headaches, seizures, confusion, vision problems--and this may be the sign of RPLS, a rare but potentially fatal brain condition. I also feel faint, my face is all swollen, so are my eyelids, tongue and throat, plus
I have trouble breathing."
FRIEND: "Wow! That's terrible--do you regret ever taking Stelara?"
ME: "Don't be silly. I just concentrate how good my skin will look when I'm lying in that coffin."
I have another blog, not nearly as personal and sometimes silly as this one is, and it focuses on prosperity consciousness at:

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