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Ben Franklin, Kim Kardashian, and me

Psoriasis provides a reason to ride 60 kilometers

Christy Boisvert: Bringing it all out into the open
Christy Boisvert: Bringing it all out into the open

“What do Ben Franklin and Kim Kardashian have in common with me?” asks Cristy Boisvert. “Psoriasis.”

I’ve just met Cristy here, on Silver Strand beach, soaking up the morning sun in today’s cold wind. Behind her, a convoy of seabirds heads north and kite surfers leap in the air as a gust catches their chutes. And here, in the parking lot, riders trail in after 5, 10 and 60-kilometer rides, raising money and awareness for the National Psoriasis Foundation.

Cristy’s also soaking up the sun because even in this age of Big Pharma, the sun’s vitamin D is still one of the best ways to settle down your skin.

Right now, she’s got just the slightest evidence of outbreaks from a long time ago. But she knows they’ll be back. Psoriasis is the result of an over-active immune system that produces too much skin, and causes eruptions of red bumps with scary-looking scabs that flake off your scalp. There’s no cure.

“It is itchy, painful, and it can attack you internally, and it can cause arthritis and heart attacks in older people, but most of all, psoriasis is embarrassing,” she says.

Especially if you get it young, it can ruin your life.

“You don’t want to go out with boys when you are busting out like that,” she says. “It can turn a kid into a recluse. In my teen years, in Maine, I played basketball. But the girls, in the changing rooms, they’d whisper, they’d laugh. And they gave me a nickname: ‘Fungae.’ I was 13. I told my parents ‘I’m never going to have kids. It’s not fair on them.’”

And later, when it came to dating boys, she was in private hell. “I wore long sleeves. I’d tell them, ‘I don’t like to be touched.’ I didn’t mean it. And later, I didn’t want to undress. I didn’t want them to see. And the more I worried, the more it would come on. It’s an inflammation. It reacts to stress. And the main thing, even now, is nobody talks about it.”

Except, of course, in the Bible’s Old Testament. It talked about psoriasis as a curse of God on slanderers, and didn’t distinguish it from leprosy. Fear persists to this day.

“Teachers, pool lifeguards, PE teachers see kids with an outbreak and they order them out of the pool, off the team, because they fear touching them will spread the disease. You have to say again and again: you can touch it! Psoriasis is not contagious!”

Cristy also tried folk medicine.

“One elderly Mexican lady told me of this remedy that involved grinding a rattlesnake skin into powder and mixing it into a drink. She said she did it, and her psoriasis went away. I went to a Chinese medicine shop on Convoy, bought one, and was going to grind it, except I found bugs on the inside, and I just couldn’t go through with it.”

But she did do something about the conspiracy of silence. She contacted the National Psoriasis Foundation. One result: Another sufferer, Mark Oberman, emailed her.

Mark Oberman. Just talk about it

He’s also here today. “We met for coffee,” he says. “I was so thankful just to be able to share with another sufferer.”

She’s now married, and changed her mind about having kids. She has two (free of psoriasis so far). “When I told Cheng [her fiancé] about it, I told him I had a ‘wrinkly past.’ He laughed. He was very accepting.”

She still has rules. “One is, don’t wear black. The flaking from your scalp will stick out a mile.”

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Christy Boisvert: Bringing it all out into the open
Christy Boisvert: Bringing it all out into the open

“What do Ben Franklin and Kim Kardashian have in common with me?” asks Cristy Boisvert. “Psoriasis.”

I’ve just met Cristy here, on Silver Strand beach, soaking up the morning sun in today’s cold wind. Behind her, a convoy of seabirds heads north and kite surfers leap in the air as a gust catches their chutes. And here, in the parking lot, riders trail in after 5, 10 and 60-kilometer rides, raising money and awareness for the National Psoriasis Foundation.

Cristy’s also soaking up the sun because even in this age of Big Pharma, the sun’s vitamin D is still one of the best ways to settle down your skin.

Right now, she’s got just the slightest evidence of outbreaks from a long time ago. But she knows they’ll be back. Psoriasis is the result of an over-active immune system that produces too much skin, and causes eruptions of red bumps with scary-looking scabs that flake off your scalp. There’s no cure.

“It is itchy, painful, and it can attack you internally, and it can cause arthritis and heart attacks in older people, but most of all, psoriasis is embarrassing,” she says.

Especially if you get it young, it can ruin your life.

“You don’t want to go out with boys when you are busting out like that,” she says. “It can turn a kid into a recluse. In my teen years, in Maine, I played basketball. But the girls, in the changing rooms, they’d whisper, they’d laugh. And they gave me a nickname: ‘Fungae.’ I was 13. I told my parents ‘I’m never going to have kids. It’s not fair on them.’”

And later, when it came to dating boys, she was in private hell. “I wore long sleeves. I’d tell them, ‘I don’t like to be touched.’ I didn’t mean it. And later, I didn’t want to undress. I didn’t want them to see. And the more I worried, the more it would come on. It’s an inflammation. It reacts to stress. And the main thing, even now, is nobody talks about it.”

Except, of course, in the Bible’s Old Testament. It talked about psoriasis as a curse of God on slanderers, and didn’t distinguish it from leprosy. Fear persists to this day.

“Teachers, pool lifeguards, PE teachers see kids with an outbreak and they order them out of the pool, off the team, because they fear touching them will spread the disease. You have to say again and again: you can touch it! Psoriasis is not contagious!”

Cristy also tried folk medicine.

“One elderly Mexican lady told me of this remedy that involved grinding a rattlesnake skin into powder and mixing it into a drink. She said she did it, and her psoriasis went away. I went to a Chinese medicine shop on Convoy, bought one, and was going to grind it, except I found bugs on the inside, and I just couldn’t go through with it.”

But she did do something about the conspiracy of silence. She contacted the National Psoriasis Foundation. One result: Another sufferer, Mark Oberman, emailed her.

Mark Oberman. Just talk about it

He’s also here today. “We met for coffee,” he says. “I was so thankful just to be able to share with another sufferer.”

She’s now married, and changed her mind about having kids. She has two (free of psoriasis so far). “When I told Cheng [her fiancé] about it, I told him I had a ‘wrinkly past.’ He laughed. He was very accepting.”

She still has rules. “One is, don’t wear black. The flaking from your scalp will stick out a mile.”

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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