Voices of the PsA Community: Hear Kendall's Story
When managing life with psoriatic arthritis (PsA), there is so much that is unknown. Will this treatment work? Unknown. Will this flare ever end? Unknown. Could this food trigger a flare? Unknown. Why don't people understand how difficult this all is? Unknown.
While it is particularly painful to have a lack of understanding from loved ones, family, and friends, there are people who live with this painful and unique condition and who get it. This community understands that PsA is as difficult to predict as the weather, and they can relate to the emotional whirlwind that comes with it.
Hear Kendall's Story
Kendall bravely and vulnerably made the decision to share with us her experience managing life with PsA. And we sure are grateful. She shares her lessons learned, her greatest inspirations, and some of the biggest obstacles she has overcome living with chronic pain.
What are we waiting for? Let's dive in.
What have you learned about yourself since your PsA diagnosis?
I have learned that I'm not as patient a person as I thought I was. My diagnosis is still quite new, however. I have improved over the last 12 months, but work is still left to be done.
Sometimes with my autoimmune disease, I forget how strong I am physically and mentally. The whole process can take a toll on you. I wish I had known that. I think I was expecting to feel better immediately after starting my prescriptions. And I did, but only for a month or two.
After having psoriasis for 10 years, I have been fortunate to see results quickly with topicals for my skin. PsA is not like that. With PsA, it is not just the meds that help. It's everything, from your diet and hydration to the proper exercise that helps and doesn't hurt.
It's everything from your support system and community to getting the proper rest and being gentle with yourself. I'm learning that all these things are just as important as the right treatment plan with the right doctor.
Who/What has been your biggest inspiration through your journey?
As cheese ball as it sounds, my kids have inspired me to stay healthy and active. My girls are 2 and 6. Well, 6 and a half, if you ask her. They are super active. There are many things about my PsA that I want them to understand.
Having an autoimmune disease does not have to make you sit on the sidelines. Unless your body is telling you to, and in that case, DO IT!! I want them to see that I am taking extra time for myself and my health so that they will, too – it's just a curveball.
And I have to say my dad's passing, at 40 years old, has really pushed me to focus on being healthy and keeping up with all medical appointments. He was given chances and medical advice, and he chose not to listen. I'm not going to make that mistake.
What has been the biggest obstacle you've overcome with PsA?
The biggest obstacle, by far, is slowing down. I have always been a very energetic and active person. I went to culinary school and traveled all over the state, living that wild life. It was difficult to recognize the signs my body was giving me when I was maxed out and needed rest.
Again, I still struggle with this, but I'm acknowledging it and constantly improving. With 2 very strong-willed, young, and energetic kids at home, it's hard. I'm always going from school drop-off and pick-ups to appointments and swim classes to play dates and school functions. It's a lot.
But it's also important to me that my kids see how crucial it is to stop and relax. Focusing on our health, both physically and mentally, is a big deal.
How do you play an active role in your health? What advice do you have for someone just starting treatment about playing an active role in their health and treatment?
I am lucky to have that culinary training, which has helped tremendously with adjusting my diet to help with inflammation. I suggest starting a food journal of sorts. Or get a food sensitivity test. I did both. Both allowed me to identify what made my joints hurt or what made me feel sluggish and gross.
The process takes time, but it's worth it. Food can be medicine or the complete opposite. I loved almonds. I would drink almond milk daily, eat them whole as snacks, and use almond butter on everything. But it turns out my body didn't like them at all. My joints were mad, and my digestion was gross!
I am a firm believer in yoga and meditation. I have been doing both for years, and there is a time in our house when everyone knows it's coming. It's a respected time when I get to release and de-stress.
I would also tell someone just entering the world of PsA to find a rheumatologist that is on their side. Find someone that listens to your beliefs, understands your concerns, and respects what methods you would like to take. PsA is like a wild maze in the medical world.
Treatments that work for some might not be ideal for you. Be patient. Be kind to yourself. Drink water! Some days will suck, but not all of them. Wait for that rainbow after the storm.
Live your own voice, share your own story
We're grateful to Kendall for raising her unique voice and telling her story. There are people within this community who understand and can feel validated by reading her experience. They may also feel validated and seen in your story and experiences.
If you were looking for a sign to share your own story, this is it. Our supportive community is waiting.
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