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My Misconceptions of Psoriatic Arthritis After My Diagnosis

When I first found out I had psoriatic arthritis (PsA), I had many thoughts about what it was.

What did I think of my psoriatic arthritis?

First, I considered this as terrible as a death sentence. Second, the thought of a crippled fetal position body crossed my mind. Third, I envisioned my family and friends forgetting about me. My fourth thought led to the thought of never having a family of my own.

Was PsA really a death sentence?

My first thought of PsA being a death sentence was not true at all. My physician referred me to a rheumatologist. The moment the rheumatologist walked in, I bombarded the poor man with my thoughts. He smiled and said, "Oh, whoa, slow down. It's not a death sentence at all." From there, he told me my life would change, but he was pretty certain I wouldn't die for a long while.

Would I become "crippled"?

Crippled is a word that, in my mind, meant being unable to move my limbs, to be near death, and unable to have any quality of life. In my case, none of these things were true. My joints hurt; there is pain, but I can still function. My body is different now in how I wake up and how stiffness affects me.  There are some things I can no longer do and others that I can do that are modified. Learning to walk is something I had to learn again. When I was first diagnosed, the pain was so incredible it took rehab to change. It was not long at all before I was functioning again.

How did my family support me?

My parents and siblings have always supported me. My mother is gone now, but she was right there to help me. She helped me with simple tasks such as walking and bathing to being there to encourage me. Dad took me to doctor's appointments and for my medications. My sister and brothers have cheered me up, shared my sorrow, and always supported my learning about my disease. When I became involved with advocacy, they all stood and still stand behind me.

How has my family grown since then?

A year after being told I had PsA, I found myself sick with the flu. I went to the doctor only to learn that my dream of having a family was becoming real. My oldest son was born in October 1997 - 8 lbs, 3 oz, and 21 inches. He was a very healthy, happy little boy. Two and a half years after his birth, I had another son in April 2000. He was a whopping 9lbs, 7 oz, and 23 inches. He was a very quiet baby, and today is the smallest of my family. Three years later, I gave birth to a daughter. She was 7lbs, 11oz, and 18 inches. My daughter was early by a few weeks. Being a mom was challenging, but I did my best to be a good parent. I wouldn't trade my experience for anything. Like any life, it has had its ups and downs, but it's been a magnificent journey.

Did you have any preconceived ideas about what PsA meant? Have you found any of your ideals to be reality?

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