I have psoriatic arthritis. I was diagnosed 24 years ago, so at this point it has been my constant, unwelcome companion for half my life. Over the years I have been on over fifty medications to relieve the joint pain, swelling and extreme fatigue that are hallmarks of PsA. I have periods of drug induced remission, where I had no symptoms at all and lived a nice, normal, pain-free life. But having a chronic condition is all about give and take, for those pain-free times, you have the times you can barely stand the pain and want to give up. Sadly…I am in a painful phase.
I am lucky that my family, close friends and co-workers (including my boss) understand my condition and the limitations it comes with at times. What may be the hardest part is when people who don’t really know or who are fortunate enough to not have experience with something like this think that I am weak or giving in to “a little pain”, as I work so hard not to allow my condition to overtake my life. I don’t wear a sign that says “Psoriatic Arthritis On Board”, I quietly go through my days, smile through the pain, walk as normally as I can and breakdown behind closed doors when it becomes too much.
Part of my commitment to my weight loss journey was to help with my condition. I am at the point that my knees are completely shot and I am needing to get both replaced this year. I wanted to be in the best shape I could be in prior, so my recovery was as easy as possible. I have lost right at 30 pounds in the past 5 months and have increased my activity level with daily walks and weekly yoga classes. My current treatment plan had been working very well and until a few weeks ago I was feeling great, knee pain aside. But the familiar downhill slide started and within the past week to ten days the pain has increased, in joints I’ve never had issues with before, and the extreme fatigue makes doing anything torture. I have no been able to do my daily walks this week and had to skip yoga. I can’t help but fear how this arthritis setback will derail my weight loss. My last flare was nearly four years ago and it took almost two years to get under control. I don’t have two years and I will not back slide, I will continue to do all I can to stay on track. I told my doctor it was NOT fair, I did what she suggested, but I’m still struggling. She understood my frustration, as nothing about a chronic disease is fair.
I have added a new medication to my treatment plan, but refused to add steroids, even short-term. I’m hoping, like I do anytime we try something new, that this will help and I will in less pain soon. If not, we move on to the next thing, and in the meantime, I keep smiling and doing what I can to not given in and give up!