What is this new ache? What is this new pain? Hmmm, that is an odd rash, what’s up with that? I wonder if I should get this looked at? Is this related to PsA, some new hurdle to tackle, or a side effect of my new medicine?
The nature of psoriatic arthritis and it’s ability to impact so many systems in my body makes it very hard for me to tell if a new “issue” is PsA related, medication related, or not related at all.
As if the daily challenges of living with psoriatic arthritis aren’t bad enough, it seems that at least once a week I find myself asking, “Is this related to my PsA?” It is very hard to tell the root cause of a variety of symptoms. Just the other day, I had an odd new rash pop up on my hand. My mind went through the likely possibilities…psoriasis, reaction to medicine, allergy, other autoimmune issues…the list goes on and on. Not knowing the cause of new symptoms causes me a great deal of anxiety about what may be going on. After basically ignoring my first symptoms of psoriatic arthritis, to my own detriment, I have now become a bit hyper-aware of each new ache, pain, rash, or swelling. This uncertainty tends to cause me a great deal of anxiety.
Adding yet another doctor
Literally, the last thing I want to do is add yet another doctor to my growing team of health care providers. When I have a new symptom, this is one of my fears. It can be very difficult to tell if a new pain requires a visit to a new specialist or not. No one wants to pay another copay or add another doctor into the appointment rotation. But at the same time, we can’t bury our heads in the sand either.
Seeking experiences of others
One of the best things I have found to do is ask. This lovely website has an amazing community of people who are also living with psoriatic arthritis every day. Ask us about what you are experiencing. Take pictures, post questions, and check around. Chances are, if it is PsA related, you will be able to find someone who has been through the same thing and can offer advice, suggestions, and guidance. I greatly value the experiences of others. If we stick together, we will be able to offer each other a great deal of support and understanding.
Taking each new day as it comes
I find it is very easy to get overwhelmed with all of the challenges that living with psoriatic arthritis presents. Getting caught up in each new ache and pain can take over your life. The thought of living with this for the rest of my life gets me very upset. I begin to feel very uncertain about my future when I don’t know what I will face or when I spend too much time fixating on what “might be.” I have to remind myself to take each day as it comes. I only have enough energy to tackle the mountains that are directly in front of me, not the ones over the next hill or around the bend. I know it is hard, but I really try to take each day as it comes. I celebrate even the small successes and find joy in simple pleasures.