I received my diagnosis in February, after a couple months of ongoing symptoms, and am finally on the journey of treating it. It has been a process, to say the least. I feel like there’s a lot to fill you in on and share now that I’m at a point where I feel comfortable opening up about it. Truthfully, the start of this year has been pretty brutal. You never fully appreciate your health until it’s compromised and I have learned that lesson hard. I want to share a bit about what I’ve been going through for a few reasons. While I don’t plan to become a psoriatic arthritis influencer (😜), if sharing my diagnosis and a bit of my experience will help just one other person feel not alone, then I’ve done my job. Going through the symptoms that I’ve been having and reaching the diagnosis has caused a lot of self-reflection and re-prioritization in life to help manage my stress and take care of myself better. I’ve had to make some hard decisions in order to do that, which I’ll get into in a little bit. Finally, I think it’s important for me to be open and honest with you to “pull back the curtain” a little bit. I’m a huge proponent of remembering that social media is just a tiny snippet of someone’s life – you don’t actually know the people that you follow, you only know what they let you know. I haven’t spoken on this for the last 5 months that it’s been going on because I haven’t been ready, but feel comfortable to do so now. I want to share because I think that’s where I have the opportunity to connect on a deeper level with you, which is part of the joy of this job!
While I don’t plan to share the specifics on treatment that we’re pursuing right now, I am happy to say that I am finally treating my PsA. To rewind, I started having symptoms in mid-December, finally got in with a rheumatologist in early February, and waited over eight weeks to have treatment approved. It has been wild. I’ve been very lucky to have been an otherwise healthy person all my life and not have to deal with insurance, medications, testing, and the like before, but it has made all of this pretty overwhelming. I’m happy to be on the other side of all of that and finally have a plan of action for feeling better!
It all started in mid-December, just a day or two after wrapping up my work for Elisabeth Ashlie for the year. I woke up and noticed that my hands felt very sore one morning. I shrugged it off, assuming my hands were just sore from all of the work I’d done making jewelry with pliers for the weeks prior. We traveled to Wisconsin for Christmas and I started to notice some swelling in my feet, plus my hands were still sore. Fast forward to us returning home from our trip with our friends to Florida in early January, I could barely get out of bed. The inflammation in my body was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. I could barely lift Liam out of his crib, had to take the stairs one at a time, and had difficulty doing nearly anything. It was scary and stressful and very painful. I went through a ton of testing with my primary physician before we got to the point of referring to rheumatology. All of the bloodwork and testing caused a lot of anxiety. I was always worried about what would come back on the tests – is this something really bad? What is happening to my body? Why is this happening? It was difficult to get through the days physically, but so much more difficult mentally because my brain was running a thousand miles a minute with worry. My rheumatologist ran her own slew of tests on me to get the full picture of what was happening in my body before we finally landed on the psoriatic arthritis diagnosis. I’ve had psoriasis on my scalp for years. It’s never been terrible, but has been an irritant. Both psoriasis and arthritis run in my family. Psoriatic Arthritis an auto-immune disease with no cure, so it’s something that I will be dealing with the rest of my life. On the bright side, with the correct treatment and some lifestyle changes, I should be able to live a “normal” life without many complications!
It can be extremely isolating to suffer from something that isn’t visibly obvious. With my symptoms, you couldn’t plainly see that I was suffering. If you saw me try to open a carton of milk or get up off the floor, it would be pretty obvious that something wasn’t right with my body. But I have largely been able to continue on with my life, albeit some days were very, very difficult. Since I wanted to wait until I was at a better place to open up to you all about it, I’m thankful that I was able to get by with my usual content and sharing on social media.
In truth, I have felt betrayed by my body some days. Things I used to be able to do with ease may now be very difficult or even impossible. When it was once no big deal to be able to lift my son out of his crib turned into an event that I had to physically brace myself for and take a deep breath before doing. It’s hard to feel like a stranger in my own body, but I’m hopeful to get back to feeling more like myself with treatment.
Throughout the course of the last few months of dealing with this and coming to terms with what it means for my life, I’ve taken a good, hard look at some things. It feels so cliché to say, but it has truly given me a renewed appreciation for what my body can do, even on the hard days. On the flip side, it has brought to light just how much stress I allowed into my life. Stress can trigger symptoms, so I’ve made a concerted effort over the last several months to reduce my stress where I can. I’ve built in true “no work” times into my week – forcing myself to unplug from that stressor.
Another thing that I’ve decided is to close Elisabeth Ashlie, my online jewelry and goods shop. This is something that I have been considering since Liam was born, but the last few months have been what I needed to finally make the decision. There have been several “signs” along the way that this is the right move, most notably that I felt a significant weight lift off my shoulders once I finally put an end date on it. The shop will officially be closing on June 8th of this year. We’ve still got some sales and fun promotions happening between now and then, so be sure to grab anything you have your eye on, as you won’t be able to after the 8th!
While it has been a tough start to the year, I’m happy to say that I feel like we’re on the upswing! Starting treatment and getting to a good place with my health has been my number one concern and we’ve made a lot of progress on both of those!
I wanted to share all this to let you in on something that has been going on with me, a normal, regular human with real life “stuff”, to remind you that we’re all going through something. Social media doesn’t paint the full picture of someone’s life, though it can be an incredible tool to connect people.
Thank you for being here!