Meet Nicole Banks

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Name: Nicole Banks

Age: 39

Occupation: Recruiter

Location: Cohoes, New York

Skin condition: Lamellar Ichthyosis

I feel like people with skin conditions often have a one-line explanation that they use to explain their skin condition to others. Tell us yours.

When my skin shreds, I feel it is a path for my loved ones to always be able to find me.

What are you up to in life right now?

Right now, I am living the dream job I always wanted which is to be a recruiter. I love helping people find their path in life. Sometimes being a recruiter doesn't just mean work, it means putting myself in their shoes to find out what their struggles are, what they need, and how to guide them to the right path. Aside from work, I have four children who are my pride and joy in life ranging from 15 years old, 13 years old and 9 year old twins. They keep me active and I feel love everyday with them. I also have been married for 10 years to a fabulous man who I feel comfort in joking around with about my skin all the time, it's fun to be with someone you are comfortable in your skin with.

In addition to impacting the skin, ichthyosis also affects your ability to stay cool, stay hydrated, and retain calories. What techniques do you use to manage all those aspects of your condition, while still living well?

I live in upstate New York so the seasons are a blessing to me. I tried living in Florida for a few years but it was too dry and hot for me. I felt like I was always stuck inside with the air just watching my life pass by so I moved back to my home town. My kids and husband monitor me when we go outside in the summer if I start getting red in the face or breathing heavier. I also use Polar Products which I live by. They have vests you use that aren't too bulky for staying cool, I use neck wraps that stay in the freezer and I know my limits. As you get older, you start to realize you can't stay in the sun as much as you used to or run two miles anymore but maybe cut it back to one. There were times I would feel embarrassed to have to stop while everyone else was fine but that only put me in danger. The winter also was a season to monitor, the cold would dry me out more so I had to make sure my cream was with me at all times and I stayed moisturized. Definitely love the winter more though!

You've never met anyone with your same skin condition besides your brother. What does that feel like? I imagine that it can sometimes feel lonely—like you're the only person in the world going through a particular experience.

Yes, of course there are days that I feel no one knows what I am going through but I don't let it bother me at all. It used to until I had kids and then their needs came first and their soreness, or sicknesses. After having children, whether you have a skin condition or not, your life changes to where you are never lonely or alone. I always look at it like it could be worse, right? I could be definitely worse off than I am but I have this annoying skin condition that molded me into who I am today so I'm good with it.

You have four adorable kiddos. Tell me about managing your ichthyosis through pregnancy and parenthood.

Being pregnant with my daughter and twins was very difficult. Doctors all thought they would have Ichthyosis and they focused more on that than anything else. I had very healthy pregnancies but my skin hurt a great deal during them because of all the stretching. Not to mention you are much larger so it is hard to get all the spots on your body to put lotion on or scratch so it was uncomfortable at times. I had C-sections for both pregnancies not because of my skin but because my daughter was breech and my twins were a high risk pregnancy. I have to admit though, my hair grew amazing when pregnant which was a bonus. Parenting is a blessing, my children always call me beautiful and even say they want my skin because it is unique. They think I am a super hero because I heal extremely fast and have layers of skin. They say it's cool because if I don't like a layer I can just take it off. My daughter who is my oldest always takes care of me and is proud to introduce me to everyone so it makes me feel great they are proud I am their mother. Being a parent has been the greatest accomplishment.

Where can we keep up with you?

You actually cannot keep up with me as I do not have social media at all. I only keep email.

Sarah Harris