What I Think About Before Walking Out The Door With PsA
Psoriatic arthritis and my other chronic conditions are always at the front of my mind. Perks of the job, I guess? Before I leave the house, these conditions usually consume my thoughts. You know, considerations and thoughts that the average person never has to worry about.
Leaving home with PsA
It has been so long since I have had the luxury of not thinking about these things - it's now just routine. While it may be normal now, it took years for me to accept that it would be something I would have to do for the rest of my life. Having to take extra steps made me angry and bitter.
“The pain will not go away by getting angry or bitter, it will go away when you learn to accept life’s challenges with grace and ease.” - Leon Brown
But by accepting and taking on the challenges that my chronic illnesses create, living with them has become easier. Here is a rundown of everything I think about before walking out the door with psoriatic arthritis.
Pain and symptoms
To someone who does not live with pain that fluctuates, evaluating pain levels may seem odd. But as someone who experiences pain at one level or another in one or multiple areas of their body from numerous chronic conditions, it is something that I have to think about 24/7.
Before leaving the door, I assess my current pain levels and their locations. Then I think about what I will be doing once I cross the threshold. How long will I be out? Will I have to exit my vehicle? Is my pain relief bag packed and all my devices charged? And most importantly, can I handle an outing at my current level of pain? Am I prepared to comfort or put a stop to any or all of my symptoms?
Mobility quickly became an issue for me, yet it was something I didn't particularly appreciate addressing. It took coming to terms with the fact that mobility aids help reduce and prevent pain that I began making it a priority.
Until last winter, leaving the house meant evaluating my mobility. Could I walk? If so, for how long? Would I need my crutches or rollator? With my current mobility challenges stemming from multiple health issues, going anywhere without my power wheelchair is no longer an option. There is only one grocery store in town that can I go without it because they always have a scooter cart available. I have to bring someone with me for any other destination as I can no longer lift my mobility aid in or out of my vehicle.
With psoriatic arthritis and fibromyalgia, walking and standing for long periods often resulted in flares that lasted for days. Because of this, I had had to consider the accessibility of a destination long before I became someone who relies on a wheelchair for outings.
When thinking about accessibility, I start with whether I will be driving or driven? This answers the question of the distance I need to travel between exiting the vehicle and arriving at the destination entrance. If driven, I could be dropped off closer to the door.
Other accessibility factors I consider are where the restrooms are and how easy they are to access. Do I have what I need to clean up if I do not make it to the toilet in time? Will I be able to exit the area without disrupting others if I must leave early?
Facing the world
I will never know what it is like to juggle care and combat symptoms for one chronic condition. I was diagnosed with four within three years and experienced symptoms from each long before. But living with each of them for as long as I have, I think it is safe to say there aren't many people with just one of them that doesn't have the luxury of walking out the door without thinking about it.
What do you think about before leaving home?
Were you ever misdiagnosed before being diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis (PsA)?