Saturday, November 20, 2010

Doing battle

It just wasn't happening for me on Friday.

Two hours of volunteering at the school turned into three hours--the third hour being the one in which I'd planned to run and lift. By the time I got home an hour late, I was starving and instead of changing into running clothes I scarfed a cup of tuna, a bowl of cashew-carrot-ginger soup and a small plate of chips-n-cheese. Eating trumped working out. And then food buzz set in. My arms and legs got so heavy I felt like I couldn't move. My eyelids began to droop. The couch was calling to me, and I answered.

"Just a quick 30-minute power nap," I thought, and I'd still have time to get my run in.

Ninety minutes later I woke up, groggy and disoriented, and still tired. My body also ached from head to hips and this time, not as a result of burning muscles but rather, burning skin. Literally.

You see, for the past 20 years, I have been doing battle--fighting off psoriasis, an autoimmune disorder that affects my skin. In the beginning, the disease began a slow march--winning little victories here and there, claiming small territories of epidermal real estate. I began to fight back with topical potions and creams, creating a stalemate, if not a truce, between the battling armies. Then, in recent years, the enemy began to stage small, stealthy attacks that I hardly noticed--until one day I did notice and realized I was losing the war.

So, now, after several retreats and failed strategies, I am fighting back with a vengeance and I am now the one claiming victories, but it comes with a price.

You see, I am not generally a fan of western medicine (though I believe it does have it's place and has been know to perform miracles) favoring, instead, eastern/alternative/homeopathic remedies to treat what ails. I am against using a serious cancer drug, Embrel, to battle my enemy so, as an alternative, I have chosen phototherapy, a method of channeling "sunlight" (UVB rays) via laser, and aiming it directly at my foe (sparing the allied troops).

And I am thrilled to be seeing results so quickly. Now I am the one pushing the enemy back but, as I said, it is not without cost. There are many casualties along the way as my path to healing requires setting fire to the enemy troops on the battlefield.

In plain English, this means I am suffering burns over multiple parts of my body and anyone who has ever had a sunburn can relate to the feeling--the warm, burnt, swollen skin throbbing and blistering as it attempts to heal. Once it does heal, it leaves healthy, yet delicate new skin in it's wake.

It is now, when I'm in the burning/healing phase that I suffer. My skin is sore and tender to the touch and, as a dear friend of mine pointed out, this explains my exhaustion--as my immune system goes into overdrive to heal the battle wounds.

So I did not exercise yesterday--I planned to postpone until today. And now today is here and I am still exhausted and not feeling 100%, both because of my skin and otherwise. I am trying to sign a peace treaty with myself--giving myself permission to rest yet another day without guilt. I think I will compromise by taking my dog for a long, leisurely walk instead.

This way, my immune system can stay focused on fighting the enemy instead of fighting itself.

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