After being diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis, I expected to experience some level of physical pain on a daily basis. I also expected that I would have to make some changes to how I lived. What I didn’t expect was to spend the rest of my life struggling to do things that never used to take much thought or effort. Here are five things that I used to do effortlessly, but have become exhausting activities.
1. Bathing: Taking a shower or a bath is a major activity. Climbing in and out of a bathtub or standing in the shower increases my pain level. The stream from the showerhead often makes me feel like I am being pelted with hail. While I can avoid that sensation with a bath, the hardness of the porcelain puts pressure on my bones making it impossible to get comfortable.
2. Brushing and styling my hair: Some days the pain I experience in my hands makes it impossible to hold a hairbrush, let alone run it through my hair. Even on a “good” day my hands may go wonky causing me to lose my grip on my curling iron. I have burnt my forehead, ears, neck, chest, and even my stomach after losing hold of one. “Doing” my hair is not something I am able to do on a daily basis and why I often look like a troll.
3. Driving: Gone are the days of driving wherever I want whenever I wish. Driving increases the pain I experience in my hips, knees, ankles, spine, shoulders, neck, and hands. I used to be able to drive all day without any repercussions. Currently driving more than a few miles is a form of torture.
4. Shopping: I used to spend hours at the mall going from one store to the next or searching for treasures in thrift stores. Those outings are now too painful to do unless I use my wheelchair or walker. Sounds like an easy solution, but it is not. I have yet to enter a clothing or thrift store that provides adequate aisle space for a mobility aid of any kind. This is why I do most of my shopping online, which is convenient, but not as fun as sifting through a rack of clothes.
5. Hugs and handshakes: I began avoiding physical contact with people soon after my diagnosis. Depending on the other person’s grip a handshake may cause my bones to feel like they are breaking or my skin might feel like it is being ripped. Hugs hurt my back, shoulders, neck, and arms and are reserved for those I cherish.