Yes, we have tried yoga. No, acupuncture is not a cure.
Living with psoriatic arthritis (PsA) is not exactly a walk in the park. Between dealing with swollen joints, fatigue, anxiety, and particularly painful days, autoimmune disease comes with a unique set of challenges and obstacles that can make daily life difficult.
But it is important to remember that while it may feel isolating, you are not alone.
Rolling with the punches can help you deal with feelings of stiffness and pain, and there are treatments available that can improve your symptoms.
Whether you yourself have psoriatic arthritis, if you want to better support and empathize with a friend or loved one, here are the good, the bad, and all the little, laughing things in between that come with a PsA diagnosis.
It does not matter if your PsA affects your finger joints, your feet and ankles, or anywhere else in the body, waking up in the morning for most of us is a slow, drawn out process.
For the first few hours of the day, moving around the house, making coffee, and getting dressed and feeling ready, it feels a lot like sitting in the Tin Man’s body.
The movement is stiff, slow and fairly limited in mobility until we warm up for the day.
The extent of your mobility and comfort level is likely to confuse friends and family – especially if your psoriatic arthritis mainly affects your finger joints.
Sure, you can do a pretty decent job on a good day during a HIIT session or yoga class, but find the strength to loosen your protein powder or peanut butter jar afterwards? That’s another story.
PsA can be a very troublesome disease because you never fully know how it affects your joints day after day. However, it is just as difficult to maintain a consistent energy level.
Hopefully understanding close friends and family when you need to cancel last-minute plans or suggest a more relaxed activity, but trying to maintain a consistent level of energy when you need it, is frustrating nonetheless.
While at long last a name for your illness may come with a lot of emotion, by the time you are well diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis, it is more of a relief than anything else.
You have probably been told that you have something like plantar fasciitis, that you are prone to sprains and muscles, or that you are wearing the wrong shoes.
Yes, you have tried acupuncture. You have tried to follow an anti-inflammatory diet. You have even dabbled with essential oils.
Well-meaning friends and family can try to help you find something to treat your pain more.
But that does not make it any easier to explain that although diet and alternative treatments can sometimes help, they do nothing to reduce the effects of psoriatic arthritis.
While you know that no diet or lifestyle change will lighten the root of your psoriatic arthritis, you have yet to read every little detail about maintaining an anti-inflammatory lifestyle.
You probably take a turmeric supplement and avoid vegetables and sugar at night. Maybe you even cut out gluten and alcohol or started meditating to reduce stress.
For whatever lifestyle changes you have decided to commit to, chances are good that you have impressed your doctor as a rheumatologist with the vast amount of knowledge you have gained by doing your own research.
Whether you have psoriatic arthritis, psoriasis, or a combination of both autoimmune diseases, you probably fear the dark, cold months more than anything else.
Between keeping joints lubricated and the vitamin D from the sun’s rays, people with psoriatic arthritis and psoriasis tend to do much better in hot, humid conditions.
Most of our blooms come in summer and we dream our days by lying in the heat.
There’s no way around it: Living with sore, achy and inflamed joints can take its toll.
Whether you were diagnosed in your 20s or your 70s, constantly worrying about how you feel, or being able to move normally, or if you have the energy to tackle the day, you feel much older then you really are – even on good days.
Whether it’s looking at a friend after your swollen or deformed knuckles, walking with a light nap, or if you still need to figure out another diet restriction or compression garment you are trying to deal with, the effects of psoriatic arthritis can be embarrassing.
This is especially true if you are someone who does not exactly enjoy the center of attention.
Sure, trying to hide your swollen joints when asking for help opening your toothpaste in the morning or covering your throat while picking up groceries is not exactly glamorous or sexy.
But you know more than anyone that going through chronic pain makes you incredibly tough and resilient.
While some days are worse than others, you know deep down that every little performance, every sweaty yoga class, and every particularly strenuous homemade meal means a little more to you, because you do not take your strength for granted.
Kaitlyn McInnis is an international travel and lifestyle writer based in Montreal, Quebec. Her work has appeared in Travel + Leisure, Forbes, The Points Guy, Tatler Asia, and many other consumer and trade publications around the world. You can usually read or write them from a hotel lobby or on Instagram.