Living with Other Conditions in Addition to Psoriatic Arthritis
The Psoriatic-Arthritis.com team likes to post prompts on our Facebook page. As you probably know, we think of ourselves as a vibrant community (far from just being a website), so prompts are a key way to get our community members talking about life with psoriatic arthritis.
Talking honestly with one another about what it’s like to be a patient or caregiver can be a powerful source of comfort and validation.
What does the community have to say?
Here’s one prompt we posted recently: "Do you manage any other health conditions in addition to psoriatic arthritis? Have they had any effect on your PsA treatment plan decisions?"
We got so many responses! Many of you are coping with multiple autoimmune diseases, from ankylosing spondylitis to type I diabetes to Hashimoto’s. Other conditions mentioned include endometriosis, fibromyalgia, asthma, migraine disease, anxiety disorders, and more.
A variety of responses
Some of you shared your diagnoses with rueful humor. I totally get that approach. If I couldn’t find humor in my own chronically ill life, I don’t know how I’d cope! Others’ answers were tinged with frustration and, occasionally, despondency.
This was especially stirred when mentioning how your multiple conditions complicated your PsA treatment plans or if PsA treatments made it more difficult for you to manage your other issues. That makes sense to me, too.
Let me share my personal experience
You see, I myself live with several health conditions in addition to PsA, and, at any given time, I’m doing at least one thing to treat each of them. During healthier years, my daily pill boxes seemed too big for my needs. I’ve occasionally been able to reduce my daily preventive medications and supplements. When symptoms flare and I need to refocus on proactive prevention, those same pillboxes start to get pretty crowded.
Of note is the fact that each of my doctors has carefully considered every capsule and pill in my regimen before adding more to the mix. They keep in mind any potential contraindications among medicines.
It's a balancing act, right?
In weighing what to add to my treatment plan for a specific condition, each doctor exercises caution, not wanting to prescribe something with a potential side effect that could exacerbate another condition.
I have great experts on my side, yet I never forget that I am an expert when it comes to the experience of living in this body. This means that I, just like my doctors, am careful when adding to or taking away from my treatment regimen. Like them, I do not want to inadvertently make one condition worse in pursuit of improving another.
The complexity of it all
Living with chronic health problems is so complex. Reckoning with one diagnosis is difficult; attempting to juggle multiple conditions at once means you’ll definitely drop the ball here and there.
Sharing even a small portion of your health journey with family, friends, and colleagues can feel risky. If you are fortunate enough to get full support from those folks, you may end up teaching and re-teaching them about the ebbs and flows of chronic illness, and the ways in which your life is affected by having to manage multiple conditions at one time.
Whether or not you responded to our initial post, we’d love to revive the conversation. Do you manage any other health conditions in addition to psoriatic arthritis? Have they had any effect on your PsA treatment plan decisions? How do you care for your health as the overall picture grows more complex?
Have you ever visited our Community Hub?