By Krista Kellogg
Recently, I missed work and stayed in bed all day nursing the fourth cellulitis infection that I have had in the past eight months. Not to be confused with cellulite, another condition that could also cause one to want to lay in bed all day, cellulitis is a severe bacterial infection of the skin and underlying connective tissue caused by, among others things, chronic skin diseases like psoriasis. Cellulitis is painful, potentially life-threatening and requires immediate treatment with antibiotics.
I know all of this, of course, because I live with a chronic disease. A chronic disease that, while rarely life-threatening, requires constant diligence and special attention to avoid other life-threatening conditions like cellulitis. In this case, the special attention must be paid to my feet, for that is where my chronic scourge happens to be located. For the record, feet are not the easiest part of the body to care for. It’s especially difficult to prevent the cuts and scrapes that can lead to cellulitis episodes. Such prevention is extra challenging for someone like me, given that my cuts and scrapes occur on my feet before I even get out of bed in the morning. They happen without my even trying, or without walking on nails or barefoot over crunchy shards of glass. My feet are cracked and cut all or nearly all of the time. Such is life with “plantar” psoriasis, (we will save the story of plantar’s evil twin “palmar” for the sequel – but here’s a hint – “palm” is the operative word in her story). Even with diligence, one cannot underestimate the challenge of keeping one’s feet as clean as they need to be in order not to threaten one’s life. I need Marty McFly’s hover board, indoor fishing waders and antibiotic floor cleaner (a cheeky suggestion by my father, who also happens to be a physician).
I have the feet only a mother could love (by the way, my mother also has palmar-plantar psoriasis) but I’ve found another family that loves me just the same – an online family. When I found the National Psoriasis Foundation message boards, a world of support opened up to me. I’ve developed wonderful friendships with people through shared experiences, some with the disease, some treating the disease and some working to cure the disease. There were bleak days at the dawn of my diagnosis, when I was suffering and searching for answers. My only solace was the soft glow of my computer screen — the portal to my Foundation family. The Foundation’s online community was my lifeline to others with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis. Living with a chronic disease can be very isolating. It is sometimes difficult to convey how much you are struggling. When you connect with others with the same story, you don’t really have to explain yourself (or your cellulitis) at all. My first post on the message boards read “Hands and Feet… Help.” Four little words that changed my life forever.
Krista Kellogg was elected to the National Psoriasis Foundation Board of Trustees in 2006 and currently holds the position of chair-elect. She is chair of the Board Governance Committee and a member of the Development, Finance and Outreach Committees. She also served as chair of the 2011 National Volunteer Leadership Conference. Krista has palmar-plantar psoriasis. She lives in Miami, Florida, where she is the marketing director at the law firm of Stearns Weaver Miller.