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Learning to Walk Again

Since my diagnosis of psoriatic arthritis in 2003, my life has been filled with many moments of learning. I had to learn about my disease, about the different treatments available, how to be patient, and most importantly how to live differently. However, learning to walk again is one thing that I never expected to have to learn.

One foot in front of the other

Having to learn how to walk again may come to a surprise to some people because I wasn’t paralyzed. In fact I had full use of my feet and legs, but it was limited because of pain in my feet, knees, hips, sacrum, and spine. Being told by a number of doctors that I would never improve was another reason I never expected to get around on foot. Most of my outings since 2009 required the use of a wheelchair and my time at home was mostly spent in bed. When I began experiencing some major improvements in 2017, I quickly discovered how weak my muscles had become. I also had to face the fact that one doesn’t spend eight years in bed or a wheelchair, then just jump up and walk like they did before just because the symptoms that held them down were no longer holding them back. I had to rebuild muscle strength and stamina. I did this through stretching and committing to walking in small increments every day. Then, once I mastered walking for a particular distance or amount of time without increasing my pain, I would increase my goal to go further and longer.

Reaching for the stars

I used to say I wanted my old life back, but not anymore. That’s because the life I’m living now, even though I still have my chronic illnesses and deal with flares, is so much better than it was before becoming sick. Believe it or not, I am able to walk longer and farther than I ever walked prior to becoming chronically ill. That is because psoriatic arthritis and my other chronic illnesses have taught me to listen to my body, to push and test it, and to discover what it is really capable of. I learn something new about my body every single day. Throughout this process I have learned how to improve my posture, the correct way to turn my feet, knees, and hips when standing and walking, and how important pacing is no matter how I am feeling. I have learned the importance of having a good pain management plan in place, because I would have never pushed to the extent that I have without a way to recover from any misjudgments. In the past, pushing too far would trigger a flare or confine me to bed for days or weeks at a time. Now I recover overnight or within a day or two. The most important thing I have learned is to never take any of my abilities for granted. After years of having to be pushed around by friends and family, you will never hear me complain about having to walk anywhere again, even when it hurts.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • imschmarte
    1 year ago

    Hi Cynthia! I just had a couple of questions on your article if you don’t mind. You said you had some ‘major improvements’ in 2017. What were they? How could you be so bad off, and doctors telling you it would not improve, but yet you did, to the point where you can be better than before PsA? I am just curious, because most of us on this website have been told those EXACT words, ‘we would never improve’ from what we are right now. But yet, you did! What were the circumstances? What changed? Was it mental, physical, or both? Was it prescription meds, herbal, or both? How can you walk longer and further than ever, yet still have your chronic diseases and flares? I guess what I am asking is, give us all some hope for recovery, for better days, for better futures. Tell us your secrets!! Thanks for answering any and all parts of this comment! And how wonderful for you that you are living proof that autoimmune diseases are NOT the end of life as we knew it!! Take care Cynthia!

  • Cynthia Covert author
    1 year ago

    Hi imschmarte!
    Thanks for asking, I am happy to share. The improvements cover several chronic illnesses, not just PsA, but in regards to PsA my feet and sacrum no longer hurt 24/7 like they had since 2003 for my feet and 2011 for my sacrum. I could finally sit without pain, stand without pain, and even walk without inflicting pain to those areas. These improvements occurred last year, but my journey in improving actually began in 2012 when I couldn’t walk, sit, or stand for 5 minutes without wanting to pass out from pain. I should note that before I began following my dr’s protocol in 2003, I could walk for several miles a day. But from that point I went downhill fast, had to use a walker and a wheelchair within a few years. IN 2012 I had had enough. Desperate for a change, I took my health into my own hands. *disclosure I am not issuing med advice* I detoxed off of all of my pharma meds, then began medicating with MMJ. Started having immediate relief from pain and insomnia. Then in 2016 I made dietary changes. In 2017 I added PEMF therapy and exercise. My doctors have nothing to do with my treatment plan and have told me that unless I want a prescription they have no need to see me. Sad because they could learn a lot from patients who treat without pharma. Anyways, I detail my treatment plan and my current progress on my personal blog if you are interested. There is no cure for any of my illnesses, I will most likely always have them, but they are being managed better than they have ever. While I do still experience flares, they are no where near the severity that they used to be nor do they last as long. Of course what has helped me, may not help someone else, but my hope is that others will not give up. That instead they too will keep searching for what will help them and take ownership of their health. There was a time when I thought my diseases were the end of life as I knew it, thankfully I was wrong. Wishing you less pain!

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