When we do spring cleaning in our attics and basements, we never know what we might find. The roller skates we used as a child, old report cards, a family heirloom that may or may not have financial value, but will most definitely have sentimental value. In the midst of all of the items that collect dust and create clutter, often lie dreams or memories of days past.
That is precisely what happened to Anne K. when she helped her mother clean out the attic of her Philadelphia home. Anne discovered letters that she had written to her mother more than 40 years ago. Anne was a student at Oxford University and lived in England in the spring of 1968. She received treatment for her lamellar ichthyosis in Newcastle, a wonderful town north of where she was living.
When Anne read the letters, they brought back an old voice, and soon Anne was writing about those times. Anne wrote of the very clinical visits to dermatologists, of sitting on the examination table and being afraid to ask questions and also afraid of what the answers might be. Anne’s regular dermatologist while in England was Dr. Renwick Vickers, professor of dermatology at the Oxford Medical School. Her parents found the name of Dr. Sam Shuster, a specialist at the Royal Victoria Infirmary, who recommended new treatments. After trying treatments of Vitamin A and steroids that did not work for her, Anne was willing to consider a treatment of methotrexate. Dr. Shuster was a strong advocate for methotrexate, but her local dermatologist, Dr. Vickers, was cautious with this treatment option.
Anne also wrote about her friends and relationships while in England. They became a strong support for her as she navigated her treatment options.
Anne submitted her story to The Gettysburg Review, published by Gettysburg College. She received the very exciting news that her story was indeed selected for publication in their Summer 2010 edition.