One Day at a Time!
When I woke up one morning and my hands and feet were stiff, I didn’t think too much about it. After two weeks of waking up like this, I thought I had a virus and I headed to my doctor. She asked if I had had a cold or fever in the last couple of weeks. I replied “No,” I had neither. “Then I don’t think it is a virus,” she said. She wanted to run some blood work to rule out some things and if those didn’t produce any telling results, she would refer me to a rheumatologist. Fast forward a couple of weeks and my blood work didn’t show much and a referral was put in to see the rheumatologist. A couple of weeks later I got a call saying they had a cancellation at the rheumatologist.
My first appointment with the rheumatologist was more blood work, her examining my joints and a bunch of questions. Does anyone in your family have arthritis? Are you sure no one in your family has arthritis? She puts me on an NSAID and I am to see her again in 3 months and she hopes by then it is gone away. Three months pass and although the medication is helping, it certainly hasn’t gone away. After doing some of my own research on what it could possibly be, I read about a type of arthritis linked to psoriasis. I question my mother on if psoriasis is what my grandfather had, as I remember his nails being all bumpy and yellow.
My next appointment, I tell her that my grandfather on my mom’s side had psoriasis and that I read about a type of arthritis called psoriatic arthritis. The Doctor’s eyes widen and she says it is very possible that you do in fact have psoriatic arthritis. She asks me if I have psoriasis and I say “No” hoping that it means it impossible to have psoriatic arthritis, however, she quickly informs me it is possible to have it without psoriasis.
The next 18 months I continue to take my NSAID and if I stop for a couple of days my symptoms return and I end up having a flare. My feet, hands, wrists, ribs and sometimes one knee all hurt. Tendon’s in my wrists hurt the most. Despite being diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis, I am only on an NSAID. Many people tell me I should question my doctor on this and I have. I see my doctor every six months and at my last appointment I told her that I was on some Facebook support groups and most everyone on there is on some pretty heavy duty drugs – why not me? I asked, “Do you still believe it is psoriatic arthritis?” and she quickly replies “Yes.” She tells me that most people she sees are on very heavy duty drugs and if I was progressing and getting worse I would be on those, too. But right now, she considers me to have a mild PsA. She simply doesn’t know if it will progress and get worse or if it will stay mild. We have to keep an eye on it and I need to report any symptoms that become worse.
I know that right now I am very lucky to have mild PsA as opposed to being debilitated by it like a lot of others are. I don’t take any activities I can do for granted since being diagnosed, because I know how bad it could be one day. I know that many others are unable to dress themselves in the mornings, or even go to work. I think about those things daily and I count myself extremely lucky. I feel lucky I can walk, dress myself, go to work, use my hands to make my kids lunches and drive them to school. Being diagnosed and reading others stories made me realize that we can’t take anything for granted. Everyday I am thankful for what I can do.
Sometimes I am fearful that one day I could wake up and simply not be able to get out of bed. I have to work to push those thoughts away and live each day as it comes to me and be thankful I have another day in which I can do everything I normally do, sometimes with a bit of pain and fatigue in which I quickly remind myself it could be much, much worse. I concentrate on trying to be good to myself, eat properly, try and exercise (which I admit, doesn’t happen enough) and decrease stress whenever I can.
I am thankful for reading those stories from people who have PsA severely, and I am thankful we have medications that can help some of those people. I remain hopeful that science will one day find a cause and cure for PsA and those who are living with it so severely will get their life back. Until then, it’s one day at a time!