Get Out of the Pool
I’ve had psoriatic arthritis for over twenty years now, but I’ve had psoriasis much longer, for fifty years, this is most of my life.
About forty years ago, on a hot summer’s day, I remember I wanted to go to a public pool in my Virginia hometown with some family member. I was having a very bad psoriasis flare, which I had most all the time, but was getting more comfortable being around people.
I went into the water which felt wonderful to my psoriasis. When I got out of the pool a guy who worked there came up to me and asked me not to go into the pool anymore. I asked him why. He also said if I wanted to stay there I had to cover up.
I felt completely embarrassed and humiliated. I also felt that I was being discriminated against. I asked to speak to the person who was in charge. His supervisor told me that people felt uncomfortable that they might catch what I had. He stated that they can decide what is best for the establishment. He would not listen or see my side of this at all. I felt like I was being singled out, but I didn’t say a word and left in shame.
Speaking up and out
For the next 40 years, this one episode haunted me. I avoided pools and beaches as much as possible. If I did go I was always over-dressed. One year I even went to the beach wearing pantyhose to cover up my lesions. Can you imagine what a sight this was? And let’s not talk about the sand that got inside the hose. Needless to say, it was very uncomfortable.
The pool episode has haunted me for years, but there was a bright side; it also helped me learn to be my own best advocate. I never again want to be discriminated against because of something I couldn’t control. I never wanted to feel like a victim again. I learned my legal rights and what to do if I experience any type of discrimination again.
To this day, I still get stares and remarks at pools, but I no longer feel embarrassed and humiliated. If I hear someone say something nasty or make a rude remark, I make it my business to educate them about the disease.
I let them know in a very kind way that I am not contagious. I tell them, I know I don’t look very pleasing to your eyes, but please be sensitive to me and to others when you speak to others; you don’t know how you are making me feel or making a young child feel. Saying nasty things to people can scar and mark them for life.
If you feel you have been discriminated against because of the way your skin looks, please let us know in comments or message the site directly; I will fight with you, never let anyone publicly shame you!
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