Draydel

Deep thoughts, random insights, and musings by Susan Jacobs

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Afflicted by PR

About a week and a half ago, I made a short trip to New Hampshire and Vermont for a reunion of my dad's side of the family. The trip followed a period of great stress at work, and was itself the source of a certain amount of stress because, well, family can be that way. In the end, the weekend wound up being very enjoyable, and the landscape of Vermont and New Hampshire was beautiful and helped me forget the stress I had left behind.

When I got back, I noticed a couple of red bumps on my neck and assumed they must be bug bites, even though they didn’t itch. However, when, within the week, my chest and parts of my abdomen were also covered with red splotchy spots that didn't itch like bug bites, I knew it was something else. It was PR.

That is, Pityriasis rosea, a non-contagious outbreak of red spots that can last for several weeks, but causes no damage and can't be treated -- it just eventually clears up on its own. I knew what it was because I have been stricken with it before. The first time was during my senior year of high school -- also a period of great stress. When I broke out in red spots, my mom took me to the doctor, who examined me and smiled with recognition. As a medical student, she had experienced PR herself, and assured me it would clear up on its own and probably never recur.

But it came back three years ago as I was leaving one job and going through a period of uncertainty before being hired at a second job. After two years as an associate at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, I was about to leave the world of journalism for a job doing public relations (a.k.a. PR). When the red spots reappeared, I went to the dermatologist, who confirmed my suspicions that it was PR, the dermatological condition, but the irony didn't escape me. PR indeed.

Because I had been told that more than one outbreak of PR was rare, let alone a third occurrence, I went to see my doctor today to make sure there's nothing else wrong with me. After ruling out a fungal infection, she agreed that PR has stricken again and said that I shouldn't be concerned that it has come back. It turns out that it's not so odd after all to have a reoccurrence, especially since it's linked to stress, although the exact causes are not known (could be viral).

So, I know now that as I go through life, and stress descends, that I shouldn't be surprised if I break out in spots shortly thereafter. Not to worry, it's just a case of PR. What journalist wouldn't consider it an otherwise harmless, but persistent annoyance?

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