I think I was 7 when I first noticed I had white spots on my knees. I remember going to the doctor and expecting him to give me a pill to get rid of it. It was then I was told I had Vitiligo. I knew it was progressive but never really thought more about it. I grew up a pretty normal kid vitiligo affected my knees, feet, elbows and groin area. I am a fair skinned person and I lived in Canada so for the most part I would wear long sleeved shirts, pants and socks. It was not until summer that I would get self conscious. I played school sports and always wore knee pads to hide my vitiligo. I had a few boyfriends in high school who I eventually told I had vitiligo. To them it was no big deal but for me, I was letting them in on something very personal and quite frankly was embarrassed about. I hated being out in the sunshine b/c I felt different than everyone else. When I was in my late teens for no reason at all I had repigmentation on my knees. I remember thinking this might just go away on its own.
In 1999, I met my future husband and he could care less that I had vitiligo. In 2000 we were married and moved to SUNNY California. Everyone around me was golden brown and was white, white, white. I eventually started going in the sun and my white spots got whiter as I got browner. I would feel self conscious, but my husband would reassure I was beautiful. He tells me all the time he can’t even see the white spots anymore. This is when I started using self tanners.
From 2000 – 2004 my vitiligo was pretty stable. In 2004 I got pregnant and had my son Jack. He was born sick and had to have bowel surgery when he was 7 days old. Thank god after that he made a full recovery. It was after that I noticed my vitiligo starting to spread. I noticed my white spots on my feet had extended to my toes rather than just my ankles. I also started to notice I was getting spots o my hands.
My dad died on Jack’s first birthday. My dad suffered through 2 bone marrow transplants. An infection eventually took his life. It was a very stressful time in my life. One I never want to experience again. My vitiligo at this point had now spread to my fingers and my knees were once again white.
In 2006 I gave birth to my daughter Kate. She was such a beautiful baby, but had very transparent blotchy looking skin. I worried that she had vitiligo I actually asked her doctor about it at one of her healthy baby visits. The doctor just laughed and said “No Diane, stop worrying”. To date, both of kids are vitiligo free. It is still something I worry about but I know there are so many worse things than vitiligo
I am a Christian and believe God make us all with a purpose. For the longest time I did not know why God gave me this disease. I now know why. I am registered dietitian and work with young girls with eating disorders. I have never had an eating disorder but for some reason God gave me this special skill to help others. I have been treating girls with eating disorders for 8 years and almost 90% of them get better. Anyway, girls with eating disorders also suffer from poor body image of body image distortion. I finally realized that I too suffer from poor body image not because I think I’m fat but b/c of my vitiligo I can empathize with the girls. I know how it is to not love your body. I try to get them to see them self as more than a body…instead to see themselves for the wonderful things they can do and feel. Though different exercises I get them to start liking their body again and set them up on healthy meal plans. It is a very rewarding career.
I would like to get rid of my vitiligo and now that my kids are getting older I think I will be able to find time to try new treatments. Would I change my life in anyway? No, vitiligo is part of me and has made me a stronger person. It has made me look past my looks and dig deeper to discover who I am.