In the beginning

I've just been diagnosed with PsA in the last few days. I had my first serious flare the last two weeks but looking back, I think I've had single joint flares for a couple of years. It wasn't until nearly every joint in my body was screaming out in pain that I realized something was amiss. So I'm new to this whole thing. I don't know what my future is with this. I could never have a flare again (er, I guess..does that happen?) or I could be on a fast road to disability. Who knows.

My flare started on a Sunday. I had pain in the last joint of my index, middle and ring finger of my right hand. It was more annoying than anything else. I'd been doing a lot of weeding in the garden so I didn't think much of it. But within a few days it had involved all the last joints of both hands and feet. So I called a rheumatologist and made an appointment. I had noticed pitting in my nails a few months earlier and knew that was a sign of PsA. I figured I ought to get some info on it. But that's all I figured the appointment would be - just a check in.

By the next Sunday - a week after the first aching in my fingers - every joint in my body was affected. It moved to my wrists and ankles first. Then elbows and knees. Finally shoulders and hips and low back. Ouch. I struggled to care for my 6 month old and 2 year old as my husband left on a business trip that day. Within a few days, things seemed to be returning to normal and I finally got in to the rheumatologist.

What I thought was going to be an informational appointment ending up being a diagnostic one. The doctor confirmed PsA and gave me a prescription for prednisone when I have a flare. She was hopeful I would have a mild case with maybe only a flare every month or two.

So. This is my life now. I spent several days wondering if I would be able to care for my children alone ever again. Thank goodness I am past that. But now I wonder what I'm supposed to do. I have my sister-in-law in stand-by a "mother's helper" type role if I need it during a flare. I have my prescription. I have a few friends in my neighborhood that are willing to help with my toddler when needed.

My plan? My symptoms have almost all faded. I still have some muscle weakness and occasional fatigue. But since catching up on sleep (once my husband got home!), I'm feeling a lot better. I have lots of stiffness in the morning but a hot bath cures that. I have some pain in my hands and feet during the day and occasional pain in other joints.

I'm going to live life as always for the next several weeks. I'd like to see if everything returns to normal. I plan to start a diet after the holidays to eliminate gluten and dairy. I'll try that for some time (6 weeks?) and then try to add one back in and see what happens. I eat pretty healthy already so I don't know what might be affecting this.

The one thing I do know triggers this is stress. When I've had a very stressful event in the last week, I've had such terrible weakness, my muscles are twitching/shaking. Things like my toddler taking me to the edge (you know - how only a 2 year old can push all your buttons) and my husband and I having issues over what the future holds. I'll get so shaky from (I guess) the cortisol. I suppose I'm just unable to cope with that right now. I'm hoping I'm still in a flare - just the tail end.

So here begins my journey. I'm ready to face this. Figure out what is best for me. Best for my family. Continue living.

My advice is not to look at what the future holds for no one knows what the future holds.

Keep a good relationship with your team of doctors. Listen to them and do extra reading about the condition and medicines that are available.

My motto to keep me going is "Yes, I have PsA but it does not have me!"