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In for the long haul

How did you get diagnosed with PsA?

The process was slow. I had been having psoriasis with increasing persistence on my elbows since 2000 when I was 50. In 2010, I was diagnosed with asthma after a few years of bronchitis and asthmatic bronchitis. I retired in 2012 and by 2013 I noticed my ankles, knees, wrists and hands were buzzing. I decided to visit a rheumatologist and he diagnosed my fibromyalgia, by 2014 I noticed my nails had changed and he said that was diagnostic for psoriatic arthritis (PsA).

What aspect(s) of life has PsA impacted that others may not know?

The systemic nature of PsA is basically unknown to the public, so it is easier to tell people I have a type of rheumatoid arthritis.

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Do you talk to your friends or loved ones about your condition?

Thankfully, I have a very supportive wife and a few friends. I've learned to approach the conversations more carefully than I had, people just don't know. Most don't want to know! I inform my doctors and other professionals about the limitations. That often puts my symptoms in context. More often than not, people start talking about their osteoarthritis, which I also have.

What common misconceptions about psoriatic arthritis would you like to debunk?

I think most people only hear "arthritis" and have no understanding of PsA. For those with PsA, there is a long learning curve, which lags behind the learning curve of researchers and doctors. Once you find a supportive rheumatologist, stick with them.

Medications often are even more problematic for many, I've found that most medications are not the answer for me. I burned out on aspirin, every anti-inflammatory caused other problems, I even tried Humira in 2018 and that was a disaster. After three doses, my legs swelled up and I gained 20+ pounds. I haven't taken the newer medications because they make it more likely I will have a more severe reaction to COVID. I use Tylenol and medical marijuana.

Do you have a story about living with psoriatic arthritis to share too?

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