crappy medical insurance · incurable medical conditions · Morphea

Morphea – My Latest Acquisition

A few months ago I noticed what I thought was a bruise in the middle of my back. At first I figured I’d leaned too hard against my shiatsu massage pillow and I didn’t think much of it.

A month later, it was still there and another, smaller “bruise” was forming above it. I found this a little concerning and of course leukemia crossed my mind because I’ve heard that unexplained bruising can be a symptom. So, for peace of mind, I went in to the doctor – a new doctor at a new clinic because I didn’t like the last doctor my old clinic assigned me to.

New Doctor looked at the bruise and announced that it wasn’t a bruise. He sent me to a dermatologist who took a biopsy. About a week after getting the stitches taken out of the biopsy site, the dermatologist’s office called to say that it the results weren’t conclusive but that it was most likely a condition called Morphea.

I’d never heard of Morphea so I looked it up and found pictures of people with big, dark blotches similar to mine. Apparently, Morphea is a localized version of Scleroderma, that extremely debilitating and disfiguring systemic disease that I’ve been terrified of getting since seeing a movie about it when I was a teenager. The fact sheets all made sure to point out that Morphea does not progress into Scleroderma though. (Phew!) Normally, Morphea just keeps on being dark spots on the skin and is usually confined to  the trunk, which is no big deal since I don’t plan on being in a swimsuit competition any time in this lifetime.

The letter I later got from my dermatologist’s office said that Morphea isn’t a worrisome condition but, nevertheless, there are a couple of things about it that are worrying me. I now have six spots, three on my mid back, one on my upper stomach, one on my shoulder which is now spreading to the back of my neck and one on my right elbow. Two of these areas, my mid back and my right elbow, are areas that I have pain. I read online that Morphea can thicken the tissues below a spot causing stiffness and pain. Could this be why my year-old “tendonitis” is still hurting?

I probably should go to the doctor to see why my elbow still hurts but I’m not going to. And here’s why: It cost us over $700.00 just to find out I have this condition. Yeah, no thanks. My elbow doesn’t hurt THAT bad!

Another thing that is worrying me a little is that I have a dark spot on my bottom lip. If I don’t have tinted lip balm on to cover it up, I look like I have a perpetual smudge of chocolate on my mouth. (Charming, right?) My worry is that it will get bigger and the Morphea will spread and I will end up looking like this:



And since I’m not planning to audition for the part of half-rotted zombie in The Walking Dead, that’s a look I’d rather not have.



22 thoughts on “Morphea – My Latest Acquisition

  1. I was reading your post in my email, and not on your blog (at first), and I’m slowing moving down and down, and suddenly I’m looking at that horrendous zombie photo and it just about scared the bejeezus out of me! I don’t know what to say, Trisha… that’s a horrible thing to wake up to, Morphea. I hope and pray you find answers and that it’s not as bad as it seems at the start. Prayers for you!

  2. I have been diagnosed with morphea as well. I was using a calcipotriene cream, now I am on a corticosteroid called clobetasol propionate. Mine spread relatively slowly in the beginning, but seems to have picked up the pace, and I did not want to have scars all over my body so I am trying to control it. The first patches showed up on my upper chest (so it is visible unless I wear a high-neck shirt), lately it has been spreading upwards towards my shoulder.
    I’m upset that there are so many cosmetic procedures out there, but there are none that can get rid of this scarring. I hope someone comes out with something in the near future.

    The calcipotriene cream is a vitamin D cream… you think your doc can prescribe it to you without going through a $700 test? I only did the biopsy and no further testing. It’s true that it goes away on its own, but wouldn’t you want to limit the scarring?

    1. I’m sorry your morphea is showing up in visible areas. That is something I’ve worried about, especially because I have a dark spot on my lip. So far it isn’t spreading so I’m hoping it’s not morphea. The spot on my shoulder is spreading up toward my neck so it will show and look like I have a dirty neck when I’m not wearing a high-collared shirt. Thank you for telling me about the calcipotriene. I’ve been using betamethasone for about three months and it doesn’t seem to have done anything. I go back to the dermatologist sometime this month and I planned to ask if there was anything that might work better. Now I know what to ask for!

      Do your spots look kind of streaky at first, almost like you’ve skid through mud or something. I have two areas like that. The older ones look like big bruises.

      1. Mine are small patches, maybe the size of a child’s fingerprints. A couple of them have joined together, but most of them are single splotches. At first I thought it was acne, then some kind of irritation. My doc said to put the meds on any patches of skin that look like they are starting to change. Once they turn dark, it’s too late and the meds won’t do anything. I’m checking my torso after every shower to make sure I get all of the new and active sites. Hopefully they stop soon…I think it’s somewhere around 2 years now.

        1. Oh my. I didn’t know that once the patches appear that it’s too late. No wonder that cream hasn’t done a thing to shrink mine! Thank you for telling me that. I sure wish my dermatologist would have. I hope your spots stop soon. It is a kind of worrisome condition to live with because you never know when or where a new spot will crop up.

  3. I’m sorry to hear this Trisha. It does sound kind of worrisome. I’ve never heard of this before. I’ve already got a long list of chronic illnesses and pain and it just seems like one thing after another continues to keep popping up. I’ll sure be on the look out for this one, now. I hope you can get some answers soon and find something that will stop it. In my prayers, always.
    Wild Thang

  4. I think all these health conditions must be related somehow because it seems like those of us that have one illness, end up with several others as well. I’m wondering if immune dysfunction is the reason this happens. While the Morphea is ugly and a couple of the spots itch, I guess it’s not that bad to have. At least not yet!

  5. Got spots in 80’s. Spent LOTS of money going to drs, including week at Mayo. TOTAL Waste of money! Just was told no organ damage. Spots continue 25+ years later and do not fade:(. Sometimes I frequent internet to to seek a cure treatment. Nothing this time.

    1. Sorry you’ve dealt with the spots for so long. I, too, have scoured the internet looking for something to treat them with. So far, nothing. I’m lucky in that most of my spots are hidden by clothing (except the one on my elbow) but the big ones are very dark and I’ve had new spots form within the last year so who knows where the next ones will spring up. I’m glad to hear that you have no organ damage. I feel some thickening of tissue in the elbow that is affected so I do worry that the tissue changes could go deeper than the skin and someday affect my organs.

  6. I contracted bacteria meningitis in 2004, had lots of nerve damage mostly on the right side. Over the years after numerous prays, doctors and therapies some of the nerves have started sending the right messages. However along with the messages are bounds of terrible and stressful pain. So, two years after the onset of this agonizing and ongoing pain I noticed an indent in my forehead with missing hair; it’s very small about the size of a pinky finger’s tip. So small, I to convince family, friends, and general doctor that it is a new addition. So, I was sent to a very competent dermatologist who diagnosed me with morphea. He noted that he had never seen a start of one and it looks as if it had run its corse. I was giving the direction that if it starting spreading to call and he would write a prescription. We’ll not a month later after an especially painful night of suffering; I woke to see that small spot started getting long. I immediately call my doctor and explained the morph to him and in turn he call in a scrip for clobetasol propionate 2 times a day. I’m watching it very careful; I been rubbing it in a lil over two weeks. I have been wondering if this pain started all of my new problems from finger aches to wrist aches and morphea. I will continue to pray to GOD and try to relax while I occasional report to the doctor. It astounds me to know there are so many people in this world that don’t know what their fellow man/woman goes through, and they take heathy bodies for granted. They seems not to want to use those good legs to even park and walk a distance. One day people will look outside their on space, lift their blinders and care not stare.

    1. How awful! I’m sorry you’re going through that. I read about that kind of morphea and it sounds terrible. I hope the medication works for you. I’m very fortunate (so far) that my morphea spots are mostly in hidden places: the back of my elbow, my shoulder, back, stomach and now spreading to the underside of my breasts. Also my knees, but I don’t like shorts or skirts anyway so they’re always hidden. I do wonder if the thickness and stiffness in my elbow might be the morphea spreading through the joint. I guess time will tell. There really aren’t effective treatments for the kind of morphea that I have. I do hope the kind you have is more treatable. Take care and thank you for stopping by and commenting.

  7. I’m curious about your sore throat. I went to des for a year. One ENT told me I had acid reflux and kept increasing doses of Nexiun. I am careful in that I only drink water w good ph level. Went to another dr who placed something inside esphaugus which measured acid. He said test confirmed I did NOT. Have acid reflux. Another year of time and money wasted on doctors. He said maybe it as CFS, but I was planning on retiring and told him I would just live with it. It comes and goes now. My most recent concern is waking up around 3 am every night. I used to think it was stress, been 8 months since I retired. Fighting urge to go back to doctors again. Been seeking internet for means and ways to get my sleep on track now. My latest spots are showing up on inner thighs…no hardening of skin yet–just more spots.

    1. My sore throat also comes and goes and I’ve read that it’s a very common thing with both CFS and fibromyalgia. I go through spells where I suddenly feel like I’m coming down with something with the sore throat, swollen, tender or just weird feeling lymph glands and a general feeling of not being well. It feels a lot like coming down with a cold or flu but then I never do get the cold or flu. The sore throat just goes away in a few days. I usually gargle salt water or a drop of lime essential oil in a glass of water to help it go away. Recently, I read that a tea made from sage leaves is good to gargle for a sore throat but I haven’t tried it yet, despite having sage growing right in my backyard.

      About the waking up at 3:00 am….I read somewhere that the time you wake up every night means something about your health. But right now I can’t remember where I read that. (Darn brain fog and failing memory!) If I remember where I found that information, I’ll reply to this thread again. If you have good insurance coverage, someone trained in Ayurveda or Traditional Chinese Medicine could probably tell you what it means, plus much, much more. I’m going to go back to my acupuncturist/TCM naturopath as soon as I can get an appointment because I feel like there are some new things going on, or old things re-emerging. It’s so hard to tell when every system in your body is messed up!

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