I’ve always thought of myself as a happy and bubbly person but I could never have imagined how the pain of psoriatic arthritis could affect my life and change the kind of person I was.
My condition started in my mid-teens with the skin condition psoriasis as a bright red, scaly rash in patches in my elbows and on my scalp which peeled hair and all leaving raw patches. It then moved to under my arm as a bright red rash the size of a large grapefruit. I was first diagnosed with severe psoriatic arthritis about five years ago when I was 58 after several episodes of excruciating pain.
The first symptoms I felt were fatigue, swelling, burning and stiffness in the joints. The pain then moved to almost all my joints starting in my knees and moving into my ankles, shoulders hips, feet and hands. The pain was the worst in my hands and feet. My fingers looked like mini-sausages – so swollen and incredibly painful. Not only were they sore but they looked horrible.
ICYMI: The simple phrase to turn anxiety on it’s head.
Many mornings I woke up and wasn’t able to move. I couldn’t get out of bed and was crying in pain, my toes were swollen and curled up, my whole body ached, even bed rest has not reduced the swelling and I was so so tired. The doctors told me I had severe psoriatic arthritis. Apparently, I was one of the ‘lucky ones’ – one of the 30 per cent of people that have psoriasis and go on to develop psoriatic arthritis.
I struggled with the kinds of things most people take for granted like being able to shower, dress myself and get ready for the day. Things like chopping vegetables, opening jars and lifting my arms to reach above my head to get something down from a high shelf and hanging out washing, were near impossible. I struggled getting upstairs as the pain in my joints was so severe and the fatigue was incredible. Everyday living was just such a challenge, but I learnt to push through the pain.
Life goes on .
The most difficult part was being able to take care of myself, embarrassment relying on help with dressing and even doing up my bra. Embarrassingly some days I couldn’t even flush the toilet because the pain in my fingers and hands was so bad. I was heartbroken at my loss of independence, relying on help so often, even on a social day out we would take it easy slowly walking with breaks so I could rest which made me despondent and all my emotions would roll in again in confusion and insecurity.