Do You Think Having Psoriatic Arthritis Is Easy?
Can you imagine living with limitations that change your body so much that performing simple tasks such as brushing your teeth, bathing, and dressing is painful and difficult? Even sitting for a long period of time and driving becomes a unique and hurtful challenge.
Why won't anyone believe me?
The first sign that I knew something was wrong with my body was that my index finger became very swollen. Isn't that strange? I was 25 years old at the time. Each day the swelling gradually increased, and the pain was unbearable. When I went to see a doctor, he simply told me to take an aspirin, and that this initial pain was all in my head.
The pain in my finger would come and go. Later that year, my knee began to swell with increased unbearable pain. The swelling persisted for several days. I went back to the same doctor. He didn’t see anything wrong with me and proceeded to tell me I was imagining the pain.
Imagine having pain for 25 years and no none believing you. That's right - I was finally diagnosed with PsA 25 years later, by a rheumatologist.
Having this disease can cause pain, swelling, and stiffness in and around your joints. It usually affects people who already have the skin condition psoriasis. Why this connection wasn't made in my earlier years, I'll never know. Especially since I've lived with psoriasis since the age of 5.
Daily life looks a lot different now
My life looks very different as I manage psoriatic disease. I experience pain, stiffness, and inflammation throughout my body's joints - there isn't one body part that goes untouched. Doing simple things has become increasingly difficult to do.
I was just told recently that I have nodules on my fingers. I get a lot of stiffness in my fingers and my toes. My heels occasionally swell up. My knees and spine are where I get the most pain, especially when I'm flaring.
Throughout my life, sleeping has always been difficult for me. I typically need to shift from side to side in bed because my shoulders become stiff if I stay on one side for more than half an hour. Not to mention the mention that consumes me when I try and sit at a desk all day.
As the years go by, my condition has hampered me most of the time. I’m not able to do as much housework as I used to. Luckily, I have someone to help me do this.
Don't let psoriatic arthritis define you
I do have days when I’m sad. Especially when my husband has to help me to the bathroom or comb my hair. Having to ask for help for simple tasks or losing a semblance of your independence, really does something to your self-esteem. I’m thankful that he is a very loving and understanding person who God created just for me. My condition has prevented me from going into an office, but I can work from home which is a blessing.
I'm grateful to my current dermatologist and rheumatologist, who understand and work together to prescribe the best treatment for me. Modern medicines have reduced my symptoms and allowed me to continue working without daily pain.
Don't let psoriatic arthritis define you. Expect to have some rough days and some smooth days. It can sometimes take your happy moments and turn them into grief ones. There is always a light at the end of the tunnel. Please remember you are not alone.
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