How an Internet Scam Artist Reminded Me About Managing My Psoriasis
This week I received an alarming email. I suppose I was asking for trouble reading my junk email - but it was a quiet night and I was hoping to find a wayward Sweaty Betty leggings sales email or an entertaining sales pitch.
Instead, I find an email header that reads: Your password is Alacazam!
Only, quite terrifyingly, it was my actual password. The one I use for almost everything.
How does managing psoriasis relate to managing the internet?
Different types of psoriasis and psoriasis in different places, often need different approaches. Same with the internet. It's worth checking in with a doctor and yourself to make sure each area is treated most effectively.
How often do you review your treatment plan?
I didn't review my treatment plan once between 2001 - 2008. That wasn't clever. I made some ridiculous decisions during that time. The thing is, while a miracle cure would be plastered all over commercials, things like new formulations of classic products, biologics coming out of patent and the licensing of new drugs happen increasingly often.
If you're not reviewing your treatment plan, you could be causing yourself unnecessary stress and inflammation depending on the severity of your symptoms.
Do you check the qualifications of the people you take advice from?
Like me giving my details to the person who tells me they are an Instagram expert - do you know who you are talking to? In the U.K. quite shockingly the term dermatologist is not regulated. So in five minutes, I could update my social media profiles to call myself a dermatologist.
Similarly, some job titles that are not regulated have wildly different access requirements for certification. The term nutritional therapist here in the U.K is not controlled with a basic set of requirements. Someone can qualify using an online five-week course with an online examination and no clinical experience and yet another can have a three-year training with a reputable university and necessary clinical expertise. I know who I would rather pay.
Professional associations usually require minimum training standards to join so it's worth checking whether your healthcare team are members of a professional association and even checking what the minimum requirements are for them to join.
Do you know your medical history?
I was diagnosed young and have no idea what happened to me as a young child. I remember the smell of coal tar and being covered in Hawaiian Tropic bronzing oil. The thing is, knowing how many sessions of U.V. treatment you have had is essential as we age.
How did the kidney function tests look the last time you took a systemic? What were the name of that doctor who was a total idiot back in 2009 and you never want to see again accidentally?
Connecting an internet scam to psoriasis
The fact this person had my everyday email and password was alarming enough. I use these passwords for everything except internet banking. A simple visit to the most common online shopping outlets would give access to my delivery address and boom, this person knows where I live.
With psoriasis, I use the same solution for everything. In my world, this looks like falling back onto topical steroids when I need relief. It also includes a liberal application of denial, which serves only to delay the treatment or interventions I need.
The thing is, I made the following internet mistakes and I have known for a very long time I shouldn't do any of them. Maybe you can relate.
- I used the same password for almost everything. Even when there are fantastic tools out there, including iPhones password keeper, and password generator, I still went with the password I was given by my university back in 2001.
- I rarely check the qualifications of people online. Who doesn't love a good PDF freebie download? A blogger with a free course - sign me up! But who is this person? And how good are they at keeping my data safe?
- I don't update my software often enough. Apple had reminded me every day for about a month with an annoying pop-up and yet I ignored it. The scammer told me they knew I hadn't updated my software and that it was a mistake. Running out of data software was their way in. I am hoping they were playing on the fact that so many of us don't promptly update on time.
- I haven't kept track of where I have entered my email and password. Keeping a list is probably boring as sin and I think exceeds my organizational abilities. If I changed my password every three months, I would know where I had been recently well enough to go back and change it. As 2001 was a very long time ago now, I have no hope in hell of changing my password everywhere now.
Shake yourself out of the psoriasis and internet routine
All of these things are everyday things. They are routine for us and boring. This makes it easy to ignore and put off for another day. The problem is that it's not until something jerks you out of yourself. That thing is usually very unpleasant and forces you to do something about it.
"I will change my password next time."
"My psoriasis isn't that bad right now; I will see the doctor later."
Is there anything that came to mind right now as you read this? Do one thing right now to start to address it. You will thank yourself in the future.
Do you anxiously anticipate a psoriasis relapse?