Athlete Learning to Live with PsA

As a 50-year-old avid cyclist, runner, and hiker that has spent the bulk of my life active, suddenly feeling stiff with joint pain was a shocker. After a few years of waking up with my hands frozen in place, my toes snapping every step, and random weird pains, I mentioned it to my GP during my annual exam. He included ANA tests as part of my bloodwork. They came back positive for several things I didn’t have, but it was enough to send me on to a rheumatologist. I got lucky and got in with a highly sought doctor and after about 3 years, he felt comfortable diagnosing me with psoriatic arthritis (PsA).

How diet and exercise have impacted my psoriatic arthritis

For the past several years, I have been in a constant flare-up. Only mildly going into remission for about 6 months when I eliminated dairy and gluten, added more weight training, started eating better, and included turmeric and many other anti-inflammatory foods into my diet daily. Sadly, it didn’t last long! By my next visit, I was back into a flare, and it has progressively gotten worse. Now I am showing signs of joint damage in my distal joints on my right hand.

Learning to listen to my body

The hardest thing for me is balancing my strenuous demands on my body with rest. I pushed myself very hard and have for years. My constant movement has kept me incredibly healthy and kept me mobile, but I am starting to realize that I need much more rest. That balance is very hard! I haven’t mastered it yet. I’m still learning and still pushing my limits. My brain says, "let’s go," but my hips, knees, and feet will say, "no."

It can be a definite trigger for depression. I must constantly remind myself that I must listen to my body! Some days I just need to go for a peaceful walk instead of a 30-mile bicycle ride. I’m still learning how to be okay with that.

My doctor agrees that my active lifestyle and my diet have kept this disease from becoming crippling and I will continue to keep moving and eating healthy, but it has come the time to try further treatments. I have mixed emotions regarding biologic injections. I'm excited to see if it will hopefully help and bring comfort to my daily life and I’m scared that it will not, or it will have side effects that I can’t live with.

One thing I have learned from this disease is that you must live in the present. You simply do not know from day to day what you are going to be faced with, so you must learn to pivot quickly!
Moving to keep moving

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