Sunday, 12 July 2015

Disappearing Psoriasis: A non-PhD related post!

WARNING:This post is not a PhD/academic/writing related post. I've been having phototherapy for the last couple of months and wanted to share the progress! 

I have the autoimmune condition Psoriasis. I have the most common form plaque psoriasis, which basically means I get patches (or plaques) of thick red skin with white scales. 

I count myself lucky that my psoriasis doesn't generally itch - and on the odd occasion that it does, some moisturiser usually keeps it under control. I've had it since I was 15 so I've become so used to having plaques on my arms and legs, that I never really felt the need to cover them up and I never made a conscious effort to hide my skin.

People would ask if I had a reaction to something, or had sunburn. Explaining that I have psoriasis; it is not contagious and it doesn't hurt, usually answered the majority of any questions I was asked. 

Recently I started having phototherapy treatment or light treatment. Here's a few answers to the FAQs

1. I am having narrowband Ultraviolet B (UVB) light treatment

2. It's not the same as a sunbed. Though I do have to stand in what is best described as a sun-bed like machine

3. I go to the clinic two mornings a week for treatment. I am 'exposed' to the light for a set amount of time. I started at 15 seconds and now up-to having 1 minute 17 seconds

4. I will have approximately 15 weeks of treatment 

5. It's not a cure and I don't know how long the effects of the treatment will last! 

Here are some photos of my progress (left arm and elbow)

Before Treatment

Week 1 

Week 5

Week 8
Week 11

Week 13
Some Useful Links

Sunday, 5 July 2015

Why I can't write during a Writing Retreat...and at other times

OK well let me start off by saying that the title of this post is not really true! I started writing this blog during a writing retreat! 

The main reason I found I was not able to write during this latest retreat was because I was the retreat facilitator. It turned out I'm actually quite good at helping other people to write (or at least appear to be writing), I could just never really find my own writing rhythm.

I have to say facilitating the writing retreat has been a steep learning curve and also a great experience (@thesiswhisperer did warn me about that). There was some really useful and insightful discussions and lots of words written by the group as a collective. Just not so many words written by me. I did however learn quite a lot about when I write best.

Writing retreats (or bootcamps) are great, especially when they offer the space to work on your writing in an a conducive environment alongside your peers. The sense of tension during the 'shut-up and write' style writing times felt a bit like an exam. 

This afternoon, I found myself sitting in an Edinburgh cafe for what was supposed to be the inaugural meeting of a Shut-Up and Write Group. The only thing, I'm the only one who turned-up. I was sitting on my own at a bench table with my laptop trying to look like I was doing something of vague importance. I came to the conclusion my friends and colleagues decided there were other things to do on a Sunday afternoon. Oh Well! 

As I settled down to write, with my ginger beer, I felt quite happy.It was nice to be out of the flat and not in the office and I couldn't be distracted by the F1 GP at Silverstone. I got quite a lot done and with no-one to talk too, I had no option but to write.