News

Don't Let Others Determine Your Potential

Date: 04/30/2013

 


by Jason V.

My name is Jason and I was born on May 6, 1973, at Children’s Hospital in Detroit.  I was originally diagnosed with lamellar ichthyosis.  When I was born I had a collodion membrane around my body that was filled with fluid. After draining the fluid,  the doctors saw how red and scaly I was, so they rushed me  to the intensive care unit because they didn’t know about my condition.  After spending the first few weeks of my life in the hospital, I was allowed to go home.

I went to preschool and kindergarten in Warren, Michigan.  Early on I suffered from high fevers of 104º and 106º, and I had pustules that covered my chest and back, which were very painful.  Doctors tried many different things on my skin.  At one point they tried a topical steroid cream that caused a toxic effect and I almost died—so to this day I cannot use anything with steroids in it.  I didn’t really understand about my skin condition at this age, but I knew I wasVican-Jason-3-web different by reactions I would get from people.  My parents did a great job of treating me like a normal child and with two older sisters it helped.  In 1979, my family moved to Sterling Heights.  I started first grade with a red face and a skin condition that no one knew about—nor did they understand how someone could not sweat because their skin was too thick to let the moisture out.   It was a very difficult time.  Kids, as we know, can be cruel (and sometimes evil) when they don’t understand something.  I did the best I could to fit in and try to be treated like a normal kid.  In the 5th grade I discovered music and started playing the drums.   My last major health incident, where I ended up in the hospital with a high fever, was at the age of 10.

Vican callout-1aIt was around 1984 when I first went to the University of Michigan Dermatology Center and found out that I was misdiagnosed.  I actually have non-bullous congenital ichthyosis, which is now referred to as congenital ichthyosiform erythrodema (CIE).  With the new diagnosis, the doctor changed my treatment and had me try this new cream, a water washable base cream that is only available at University of Michigan pharmacy, and it changed my life.

I have always been self-conscious about my looks, and I still am, but after I graduated from high school, I refused to let my condition limit my aspirations.  I used my ability to play drums and in 1996 I moved to California and attended Musicians Institute in Hollywood.  I traveled around the west coast for two years and I came back to Michigan at the end of 1998.  Staying involved with music, I got into doing production lighting work and I have done hundreds of shows and toured with bands all over the country. In 2004, I met the love of my life.  In 2007, I wanted to try something else, so I enrolled in college and started studying law enforcement. I got married in 2008.  I graduated summa cum laude in June 2010 and in August of that year I entered the police academy, which really tested my ability to control my skin condition.  I successfully graduated in December of 2010, at the age of 37 rankingVican callout-2a 12th of 42 cadets.  I am currently a Deputy Sheriff in Oakland County, Michigan.  I am living my dream and loving my wife and my life.  I handle my skin condition each day and am thankful to my parents for always supporting me in whatever I tried, and never sheltering me from a challenge.  And I am thankful to my wife for her support and understanding.  I hope others will read this and see that with determination and a strong sense of self that anything can be accomplished.

Never let someone tell you what you are capable of achieving.

To read all of the stories featured during Ichthyosis Awareness Month, click here.