March 26, 2021

It is almost the end of March.  Our temperatures are still fluctuating too much which plays havoc with my old bones.   All our snow was gone but it snowed overnight.  We need several days of constant rain.  The farmers are worried about a drought this summer.

Because of COVID19 Code Red restrictions, the hairdressers and beauty salons have been unable to open their shops until recently.  I decided I might as well try out different colours and styles while I am still able to do so.  I chose purple mixed with the usual dark brown and really like the end result.  The reason I did not post a view of my face is that my eyes are swollen and  Rosacea has gone on a rampage on my face.  One truly has to wonder how many autoimmune diseases can attack one person.  So far I have Graves’ Disease, Arthritis, Liver Disease, Lichen sclerosus, flareups of Menniere’s Disease, and the list goes on.

As if I do not have enough medical issues I was recently diagnosed with Lichen sclerosus.  It started with a suspicious-looking, painful lump in an unmentionable area of my body.  When it would flare up it would bleed.  I did nothing about this problem for too long.  When I called my gynecologist for an appointment on a Friday afternoon her nurse booked me in on February 22nd which was the following Monday afternoon.  I must mention here that I have an amazing gynecologist by the name of Dr. Lucy Rogozinska.  She is incredibly busy but absolutely worth the wait for appointments.  However, when she feels that a patient’s problem could be serious she will see you within a day or two.   Dr. Rogozinska did a biopsy of the lump and told me that the results would take four to five weeks.  She booked a phone appointment for March 23rd.  Words cannot describe the immense relief I felt when Dr. Rogozinska called to tell me that the biopsy was benign and that I had a treatable condition known as Lichen Sclerosus.

According to the NORD website and the Mayo Clinic website, and I quote, Lichen sclerosus is a chronic inflammatory skin disorder that most commonly affects women before puberty or after menopause. Although rare, it can also be seen in men.  Lichen sclerosus is characterized by skin changes of the external genitalia.  Other parts of the body may also be affected. In fact, this skin condition can affect any skin surface. Some patients with lichen sclerosus do not have any symptoms, whereas others experience intense itching, discomfort and/or erosions/ulcers. Lichen sclerosus typically has a remitting relapsing course that is complicated by permanent scarring of the affected areas. Current research supports that it is caused by a combination of a dysfunction of the immunological system and genetic factors. The understanding of the causes of this disorder is still incomplete. The mainstay of treatment is potent topical steroids in the case of genital involvement in women. Studies have shown that regular use of potent topical steroids in women prevents the problems of scarring and decreases the risk of skin cancer developing in the area of lichen sclerosus.   Because lichen sclerosus is associated with an increased risk of squamous cell carcinoma in women with genital involvement, it is important for those affected to have lifelong screening examinations as well as continued treatment to keep the disorder under control.

Rarely, lichen sclerosus can also affect other areas of the skin such as the breast, wrists, shoulder, neck, back, thigh, and mouth.

The exact cause of lichen sclerosus is not known. Most research indicates it is an autoimmune condition. Autoimmune disorders arise when the body’s natural defenses against “foreign” or invading organisms (e.g., antibodies) begin to attack healthy tissue for unknown reasons. Some cases of lichen sclerosus may be linked to the formation of certain antibodies (e.g. a thyroid protein (thyroglobulin), or certain cells that line the walls of organs).

People with mild lichen sclerosus may have no signs or symptoms. Signs and symptoms usually affect the skin of the genital and anal areas, but may also affect the skin of the upper body, upper arms and breasts. They may include:

Redness

Itching (pruritus), which can be severe

Discomfort or pain

Smooth white patches on your skin

Blotchy, wrinkled patches

Tearing or bleeding

In severe cases, bleeding, blistering or ulcerated sores

See your doctor if you have signs and symptoms common to Lichen sclerosus.  If you’ve already been diagnosed with lichen sclerosus, see your doctor every six to 12 months to be checked for any skin changes or treatment side effects.

For more information on this condition check out the NORD website at Rare Diseases Lichen Sclerosus; the Mayo Clinic website at Mayo Clinic Lichen Sclerosus.

After more searching I found pictures that I was absolutely sure I had lost.  I have decided to add a few of these that I took during our month-long stay in Southern California.  We left Edmonton, Alberta, Canada on December 24th, 1976 and arrived in San Fransico, California in the wee hours of the morning on December 25th, 1976.  Prescott and Natasha got a second wind when they realized that there was no snow on the ground.  They spent their first half-hour in California rolling around on the grass.  We were lucky that our trip happened while Peter’s sister and brother-in-law, Alfrieda and Harold with their three children, Jeff, Lorie and Kevin, lived in Reedley, California.   They picked us up early morning at the airport in San Fransico and took us to their house so we could spend Christmas day to New Year’s day with them.  We had a wonderful time checking out the big trees and picking oranges from Harold and Alfrieda’s rental tree.  Peter enjoyed several games of tennis something he could not do during the winter months in Edmonton.  We spent the remaining three weeks in Palo Alto, Los Angles, Wax Museum, Disneyland.  Half Moon Bay, sightseeing among the coastal mountains etc.

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