I Became That Person

“I’ve become the person I always hated, but I’m happier” –Woody Allen

I work for a company that delivers home health equipment to people’s homes. Every day I go into stranger’s homes, which gives me the privilege of meeting many new people. Well, the other day, I was delivering to a woman and as I gave her the clipboard to sign paperwork, I noticed familiar lesions up and down her arms. It was like I was staring at my arms from three years ago. They were red and covered in thick buildup from her elbow down to her wrist.

Kindred psoriasis spirits?

Feeling some sort of kindred connection that I can’t explain, I blurted out and asked her if that was psoriasis. Looking back, I seemed almost giddy to ask the question. I hope that some of you can alleviate my self-consciousness on this by understanding what it is like to see someone like yourself. She confirmed that it was indeed psoriasis, and before I knew it I was exclaiming that I had it too. I proudly threw my arm up to reveal a patch on my elbow. All of a sudden I froze. I realized that I was showing her this tiny patch, compared to her entire arms being covered. I fumbled and tried to explain that I also used to be covered until two years ago, but I knew it was useless. I knew what she was thinking.

I hated myself in that moment, because I always despised the people that did that to me when mine was at its worst. What was past-me and present-her supposed to say? “Wow! You have a teeny tiny patch? That must be horrible. I can’t imagine. Oh wait..yes I can.” Further, upon hearing that I used to be covered, would that make it better? Not really. It’s just another smack in the face that some people can find relief, but I haven’t been able to yet. I awkwardly finished my job and hurried out.

Drawing attention to a sensitive subject

As I drove back to the warehouse, I did a lot of thinking. The realization that I had become someone that I used to hate hit me like a ton of bricks. I felt bad that I had made her feel a way that I didn’t like feeling not-so-long ago. I felt grateful for the clearance that I have now. I felt sad that so many people don’t have access to appropriate treatments or good doctors. I felt embarrassed for bringing up a sensitive subject. I felt happy that I had the bravery to actually point out a part of my body that I kept hidden. I felt frustrated that I didn’t know how to feel!

It really is a complex thing—this disease. You are in a constant cycle. Flare, remission, flare, remission. It is hard to stay stable in your mood, perspective and outlook when your body changes physically so often. One day I am feeling cynical and critical (what do they have to complain about?) of a person that only has a small area of coverage, and the next I am that exact person. But the thing is, I’m not the same person anymore. I have seen both sides of the coin and can empathize to a greater extent now.

Compassion is always needed on the journey

This experience has taught me above all things that I can never judge a person’s journey based on how many plaques they have showing. I wish I could go back and apologize to each person I mentally chastised in my past. This disease sucks for all of us, regardless of how covered we are. I challenge us to come together and show equal amounts of compassion and support at every stage of our disease. After all, no matter what percentage we are covered, we are all still one hundred percent human.

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