My husband was in the military and we were overseas when I started getting "spots" on my abdomen. If a military doctor isn't available for what you need, you are sent to a civilian doctor. My doctor didn't know what I had (I found out later he had never heard of Scleroderma) so he sent me to a dermatologist. When he found out I was a military dependent, he spent more time telling me why he didn't like to get Champus patients (military people) because we were just as bad as Welfare patients. He doesn't make any money from us. Then he gave me a quick exam (less time than it took for him to tell me why he didn't like Champus patients), said it looks like Scleroderma, told me to put some hydrocortisone cream on it, and left the room. When I got home I went on-line and found out what Scleroderma was. I wasn't happy, and I was scared. I probably should have asked my doctor for another dermatologist for a second opinion, but I was too upset to do anything about it. I did, however, tell the Champus office how I was treated at the civilian dermatologist.
My husband retired from the service two years ago, so now I have a civilian doctor. This year for my birthday, when I was turning 42, I decided I needed to do the female thing (PAP and mammogram) and I mentioned to my new doctor about the spots. She gave me prescriptions and when they didn't help, she sent me to a different dermatologist who did a punch biopsy. He said it is morphea and isn't easy to cure. He copied a page from his medical book about morphea for me, so I could read what little is known about it. He did say I could have PUVA sessions, but they cost $40 a session, and it takes about 100 sessions. It is much easier to live with my morphea than for me to spend $4000 on skin that no-one else can see anyway, except my husband and whoever else I decide to show. I like this dermatologist much better than the first one. He takes his time with me and cares. The first guy was more interested in money than me.
I don't work outside the home. I am a household manager, or to say it the old-fashioned way, I am a housewife. And I have too many hobbies to put down in words, but a few of the things I do to keep busy are: knitting, reading, attending to my flowers and garden, feeding and watching the birds in my backyard, keeping in touch with family and friends. I love to travel, and make solo trips to California and Florida when I can. And I love to cook (and eat, too, since I am a little overweight) so I have a collection of cookbooks, some from Germany and Australia since we were in those countries while my husband was in the service. But my doctor has me watching my eating and intake of salt, so hopefully I will get my blood pressure back down where it belongs, and my weight will also go back close to were it should be, too.
I have told some of my friends, but not all of them. Most of my friends live a long distance phone call away, and it isn't easy to explain what morphea is. But I have told my mother and my sister. It is a worry to my mom, because I am the one out of four kids (am I young enough to still be called a kid? My mom thinks so) that has all the medical problems. High blood pressure, tennis elbow, sleep apnea, gall bladder removal, and a problem with one of my eyes, which is not very describable, except to say when I have pain in it, it is excruciating. But I explained all I could about morphea to Mom and my sister, and told them they can't catch it from me, I can't give it to anyone, I don't know how I got it or why I have it, I won't die from it and it only affects my skin on my abdomen and breasts so the only way anyone else can see it is if I choose to show them.
Having morphea doesn't scare me. My current dermatologist said the morphea I have isn't life-threatening. However, there are times it itches like crazy, like in these past few weeks, and the cream he prescribed for me does help some, so I take things day by day.8-20-99: I have an update about the PUVA treatments. My dermatologist says the morphea has spread to my back, so he recommends my husband and I seriously discuss my having PUVA treatments done. He says it doesn't need to be done real soon, but I will need to have them done to help stop the spread of the morphea.