The Professor and I headed out to local big box bookstore today to spend the gift card that was sort of an early birthday present for me. (It’s complicated.) The book I planned on buying—”Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close” by Jonathan Safran Foer—was not available at my local big box bookstore, so I whipped out my trusty iPhone and looked for authors similar to him (and, incidentally, Kurt Vonnegut).
And I’m super glad I did.
One of the first hits was for Augusten Burroughs‘ memoir “Running With Scissors.” I’m not very far in, as I’m in the midst of typing up meeting tape and then writing an article on said meeting, but I’m loving it so far. Why am I telling you this? Imagine my surprise when, on page 12, there’s a mention of psoriasis. No, really:
My father was otherwise occupied in his role of highly functioning alcoholic professor of mathematics at the University of Massachusetts. He had psoriasis that covered his entire body and gave him the appearance of a dried mackerel that could stand upright and wear tweed. (Burroughs, p. 12-13)
While not exactly the kindest description of someone with psoriasis, I have to admit that certainly conjures up a vivid image—and one that’s not entirely unrealistic.
Just a few paragraphs later, we learn Dad has arthritis, and—though it’s not explicitly stated—it’s likely he has psoriatic arthritis.
My father had a bad knee. Arthritis caused it to swell, so he would have to go to his doctor and have it drained. He limped and wore a constant pained expression on his face. ‘I with I could just sit in a wheelchair,’ he used to say. ‘It would be so much easier to get around.’
Dad may not be the best representative of us chronically ill, but it’s better than nothing. And, since it’s a memoir, it’s not like Burroughs can change his dad. Regardless, it was nice to see someone with psoriasis and (psoriatic) arthritis in the popular media. So, kudos to you, Augusten Burroughs. And thanks.