Andrew Gosse can understand the frustration people experience trying to treat psoriasis.
Having tried many forms of treatment with little success, the St. John’s real estate agent can still remember the struggles he faced making it through an average day.
After 17 years of living with the disease, Gosse would scratch patches of skin at night until they bled before pouring vinegar on his skin to help him sleep. Blood would congeal overnight, and in the morning Gosse applied creams and ointments to treat the scars. He avoided wearing light-coloured clothing, as blood would otherwise seep through.
“This is 24-7. There’s no season. ... At 32, I sat at the edge of my bed, married, sobbing. My wife says to me, ‘Are you OK?’ I turned around — and this was the lowest point. I said, ‘I’m disappointed to still be alive.’”
Today, Gosse is doing much better. The president and founder of the Canadian Psoriasis Network eventually got help from a progressive dermatologist who consistently found new treatments to try. After taking part in numerous clinical trials, Gosse found a product that cleared the physical evidence of his inflammatory skin condition.
“You can’t really underestimate, nor overstate, that change. It still gobsmacks me.”
Gosse is now part of a three-week challenge encouraging those who suffer from psoriasis or psoriatic arthritis to find a solution that works for them. It’s called The Satisfaction Project.
At the website www.livingwellwithpsoriasis.com, Gosse encourages others to take advantage of local support groups, seek out accurate information and to support others.
Further challenges are presented by Dr. Ronald Vender, a dermatologist and associate clinical professor at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ont., and Toronto psychotherapist Kimberly Moffit. The full challenge is not tied to any three weeks in particular.
Survey results published earlier this year in The Canadian Journal of Diagnosis found 76 per cent of people living with psoriasis were not satisfied with their current treatment.
According to Gosse, when people try treatments and get limited results, they often cease trying. In the case of psoriasis, Gosse said there can be cases where those results diminish over time. One may also find treatment to be such a burden that they decide to give up.
“You will deal with the status quo because it’s not just a physical disease — it’s very much a mental and social disease as well.”
He hopes the campaign will connect people struggling with psoriasis and help them reinvest in their own efforts to tame the disease.
“It’s to really give them all the current information about the disease, empower them to then see their dermatologist again and to sit down and discuss all the treatment options, because there’s really been a quantum leap in the treatments that are available.”