In February of 1995 I noticed some eruptions on my chest which I ignored. The week after I notice them, I went to a week-long school for the Air National Guard in Virginia. While at the school, the eruptions increased on my chest, as well as in my nose, mouth, and face. I was extremely frightened; I did not know what was happening to me. I thought of going to “Sick Call” but decided not to, since the school was only for one week and I wanted to finish it. When I flew home from attending the school, my family took a look at me and begged me to go to an Emergency Room immediately. Since I was very tired from the trip, I waited until the next day.
The next day I went to the Emergency Room of one of the local hospitals. The physician in the ER admitted that he really did not know what was wrong with me. My wife suggested that he call a dermatologist at a bigger hospital which he did. The dermatologist made an appointment for me for the following Monday.
On that Monday I went to the dermatologist who diagnosed me with a disease that I never had heard of–pemphigus. He told me it was a very serious disease, one that was rare and very expensive to treat. I did not know where to turn. I did not know of anyone who had this disease or of any organization who dealt with this malady. He prescribed a mild dose of steroids and sent me home. The eruptions on my skin (which I learned were called “lesions”) increased. Despite many visits to the dermatologist and increases in the medication, the condition worsened. The dermatologist that I was going to suggested that I go to either New York City or Boston for treatment since the doctors in those cities had more experience in treating this strange disease. I opted for New York City.
After visiting a dermatologist in New York City, I was admitted to New York University Medical Center for treatment in April of 1995. The dermatologist in New York City was very aggressive in treating my disease with high doses of steroids, along with other medications and blood treatments. After a week of the aggressive treatment, the spreading of my pemphigus condition stopped. After three weeks I was sent home to recover.
Slowly I was weaned off of my medications in order to determine what my “maintenance level” was. By May of 1996 I was completely off all medications and have not seen a reocrurrence of pemphigus.