25 Oct 2022

By Noor Lakay

Let me start by introducing myself.

My name is Noor Lakay. I am a 61-year-old male. I live in South Africa and I am of Muslim Coloured descent.

I am a patient at Grootte Schuur Hospital Dermatology Clinic. I suffer from a chronic health condition that impacts the body’s largest organ, namely the skin. I was diagnosed with Psoriasis at the age of thirty. Yes, that was thirty-one years ago.

It started with what resembled dandruff on my scalp. I didn’t really think it was something to bother about and just got myself some anti-dandruff shampoo, hoping that it would get better. After a few weeks of using the anti-dandruff shampoo, I didn’t observe any positive result. What I thought was dandruff, now presented itself as quite sizeable flaky scales that also caused extraordinary itching, falling from my hair when I brushed my hair. This was when I decided to visit the local Day Hospital to find out what was happening with my scalp. The doctor (not a dermatologist) gave me some medication for relief, and recommended that I see a Dermatologist. He provided me with a referral letter to Grootte Schuur Hospital Dermatology clinic for further consultation.

My consultation at Grootte Schuur resulted in me being diagnosed with Psoriasis, an autoimmune condition that causes inflammation in your skin. Psoriasis is a chronic skin condition, which means it can flare up unexpectedly and there is as yet unfortunately no cure. Psoriasis has an extensive emotional and psychosocial effect on patients, affecting social functioning and interpersonal relationships.

The Dermatologist prescribed some topical steroid ointments and coal tar shampoo, to be applied daily to infected areas, and recommended that I come for follow up in four months. The next four months saw the condition of my scalp deteriorate rapidly, and my whole body started presenting with flaky itchy patches that just got worse and worse. This was the most devastating event that happened in my life. The dry skin started to form on the sides of my nose, then it was on my face where the facial hair grows, then it was my elbows and knees and the rest of my body was soon to follow. My God, it spread like a wild fire.

By the time I went back to Grootte Schuur for my follow up appointment, almost my complete body was covered with psoriatic scales and plaques. I could hardly move due to the skin being so dry, hard and full of cracks. It was extremely painful. After examination, I was diagnosed with Psoriasis and was informed what the disease was, that there was no cure for the condition, and that I needed to be admitted to the Dermatology Ward G23 for treatment. This was where the next episode of my life would play out.

I was in hospital for the next six weeks receiving various different treatments that included a range of different topical steroid ointments, different methods of applying the ointments, and UV Light Therapy. Something that I can proudly say, is that the staff in ward G23 deserve to get honorary medals for the wonderful work they do in G23. They really took good care of me and all the other patients on our journey to recovery, or shall I say, temporary recovery. After six weeks of intense treatment, I was discharged and I looked brand new again, not a single patch on my body. I was elated. I went back to work and my life seemed to be back to normal. My Psoriasis was stable for the next two years.

Then it happened again…… it was like a carbon copy of two years before. It hit me so hard that I went into a state of depression and to the point where I was put on anti-depressant medication. I lost my job and became violently ill. At that point, I was so depressed that I didn’t even want to step outside of my house and I was always in seclusion. My whole body was covered with scaly plaques that would peel off and fall on the floor wherever I sit or stand causing me serious embarrassment.

My journey from that point in my life to where I am today, thankfully came via Belief, Support and Faith. I decided to get involve with community work, and lo and behold, my life took a complete new turn for the better. Twenty-six years later I am still involved in community work feeding the less privileged. I can proudly say, my life is as perfect as I would want it to be. I own MY PSORIASIS. I have no problem going outside, going to the beach, showing off my PSORIASIS and even sometimes hoping for someone to ask me “WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOUR SKIN” I would then gladly go on explaining what the condition is and go off on my jolly way.

Well…. This is a shortened version of my journey with Psoriasis. I trust that my story can be a form of better understanding the condition called PSORIASIS, and there is most definitely still a normal, beautiful life with PSORIASIS.

I Thank you for reading my story.

Noor Lakay