SPANIARD’S BAY, N.L. — Peter Hiscock of Spaniard’s Bay has heard plenty of unwelcome comments about his physical appearance over the years.
“I’ve been called even a monster to my face,” Hiscock told The Compass, seated in a coffee shop in Bay Roberts. “When someone says something like that to ya, it kind of makes ya that small.”
In 1986, Hiscock was born with a rare genetic skin disorder called lamellar ichthyosis. It’s characterized by dry, scaling skin. Committed to spreading awareness about the condition, Hiscock is organizing a car and motorcycle show, happening Saturday, July 14 at Royal Canadian Legion Branch 32 in Bay Roberts.
Born at a hospital in Labrador, Hiscock was eventually transported to the Janeway Children’s Hospital in St. John’s, where he spent the first six months of his life in an incubator. The disease prevents him from sweating. Sun is very harmful to his skin, as is the cold. He is also very prone to infections and is not a candidate for any sort of surgery.
“I was at a doctor’s office, me and my dad, and you know how people can be cruel staring and stuff like that, and there was an older gentleman staring at me, and it kind of made me uncomfortable, and right then and there I said, ‘Enough is enough.’ It’s time to open up the door now and show everybody what I got and what I deal with, my everyday life, and more or less educate the public.”
Hiscock created a Facebook page dedicated to his cause called Ichthyosis Awareness NL. There he posts messages and videos about dealing with the disease.
“With my condition, I battle depression. That goes along with it,” he said. “I cannot eat, I cannot sleep, and I’m in constant pain 24-7 … I’ll have a good day today, but tonight I’ll suffer.”
He uses Vaseline to help moisten his skin, though its effectiveness is limited. Hiscock also uses prescription medication. One of the best ways for Hiscock to get through a hot day is to wear his cold vest, which is submerged in water and wringed out.
“That’s the only thing that breaks the heat for me on a hot day,” he said. “Where I don’t sweat, I can turn as red as a beet and pass out.”
With ichthyosis also comes a risk of losing limbs.
“I’m 32 years old now, and sometimes I find my bones are real bad,” he said, noting his kneecaps point out to the side a bit rather than straight out.
The car show, the first of what Hiscock hopes will be an annual event, opens to the public at 1 p.m. Registration starts at 11:30 a.m. the same day. There will be music, an auction and prizes, with a dance in the evening to follow at 9 p.m.
“Having the show is to more or less educate people and let them know that you can’t catch what I’ve got or anything like that,” he said. “I’m human. I bleed the same way as you.”