Taming a disease with no mercy

Jerry Maldonado Contributor
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By looking at my picture you would not think anything out of the ordinary, but under those nice clothes was a secret I kept for nearly three decades. At the time those pictures were taken almost ninety percent of my body was covered with eczema.

To the millions who suffer from this disease, I can honestly say, it could drive you mad. Living on constant medications and greasy topicals that only hurt more than help in the long run, eczema affects everything you do in life. Most important, the people you love most have to see you suffer day in and day out.

To those who can relate they understand the relentless itching, scaring, and infections that come with it; moreover, the stigma that it has on your own self-esteem. Your local pharmacy becomes your best friend as your body is constantly covered in bandages, lotions, and anything you can think of to feel comfortable.

But to those who have it (the veterans of many years) they understand that this disease is like playing Russian roulette with your life. The countless hospital visits for infections and self-inflected burns from hot showers nearly cost me my hands and feet on several occasions. Medications are only a quick fix until your body eventually becomes resistant, but there is a miracle on the horizon and I’m living proof.

Several months ago after my own doctor refused to treat my condition due to overuse of medications, I encountered a man who changed my life. This man who was a doctor in those new walk-in clinics that seem to be springing up in every town told me to go get some sun—literally.

I laughed at his so-called ancient diagnosis, but through his broken accent I realized he was right. This doctor, who was from India, understood my condition and recommended I start going to tanning salons for treatment on a weekly basis.

My assumptions to such a risky idea lead me to a new doctor that offered treatment and found my miracle. The term “photo-therapy” was introduced and I began a weekly regiment that for the first time in 30 years cleared this disease and offered hope.

Granted, there is still a risk involved with such a procedure, but the benefits in my opinion out way any risk. Some people may not benefit from this, but there is hope for many with this disease that runs your life in every way.

My advice is to do your research and contact a professional who specializes in this. Don’t go running to the nearest tanning salon thinking you’re doing a good thing or sit outside in the sun and bake yourself in obliteration. That will only hurt you more in the long run. This procedure is one that uses the good rays of the sun via ultraviolet light in small doses over-time.

The disease that once ran my life now is just a memory as I struggle with what I call the “George Hamilton syndrome” of a year-long tan and compliments about a vacation to Florida I never took. I’ll take the compliments, date offerings, and personal relief over this disease any day.

Jerry Scott Maldonado is the author of “Columns, Quotes & The American Dream.” Tate Publishing Group, due out October 2010. He is a featured columnist for The D.C.G Network of news sites: Sundaynewscape.com, Onequestionnews.com, and Imperialvalleynews.com. Jerry’s work has also been featured internationally.