Approximately October 2020, I started having issues with my hand. My thumb started hurting and it was becoming difficult to open jars, lift things, and even to write. Doing more personal things such as showering became a nightmare. For various reasons such as having Marketplace insurance, and then starting a new job, it took a few months for me to go to the Doctor. I was referred to an Orthopedic specialist in April 2021 who diagnosed with trigger finger in my thumb. I did the cortisone injections and started physical therapy. Around this time, I started experiencing pain throughout my body. My legs specifically. It was difficult to stand and sit down. Even though I had mentioned I had scalp psoriasis, never did anyone mention autoimmune disease to me.
I had trigger finger surgery in July 2021. With the pain I had throughout my body, after the surgery, I had five bliss filled days of no pain. I was ecstatic, thinking it was over. It came back worse. I forced myself to go to work because I had bills to pay. I had health problems that I needed the insurance. That’s all I did though. I went to work and I came home. I couldn’t drag myself out to meet with friends or family. When I did, as much as I truly loved seeing them, I dreaded the drive home because of the never ending pain. My mental health started taking a toll. I was ordering out a lot because it hurt to do the very basic. My already dwindling savings account from surgery became even smaller. I knew I had to do something.
Getting bloodwork as well as getting an EMG done to see if I had nerve issues. It took almost a year before I was finally told to go to a Rheumatologist. I had my primary doctor order some lab work to be prepared for my Rheumatologist appointment. I was tested for Lyme, had my RA factor checked as well as my ANA. The numbers came back that I definitely had an autoimmune disease. It was not Lyme. The Rheumatologist of course ordered more blood work. But she said she suspected that I had Psoriatic Arthritis. (PsA going forward). This is fairly different from RA in that RA primarily attacks your joints. PsA attacks your joints, muscles, and tendons. I’ve of course heard of scalp psoriasis, but I knew nothing about it. I didn’t know it was caused by an autoimmune disease. And that it would lead to PsA. There was a lot to learn!
The Dr started off with Sulfasalazine which unfortunately did nothing. I should mention, I feared I was treatment resistant. My past medications of Tramadol and Meloxicam did nothing for me. Tylenol and Motrin only took the edge off. Barely. Sulfasalazine did nothing. By this time, steroids were the only thing helping. Obviously I couldn’t stay on those! No matter how much I loved being “normal” again. Methotrexate is my current medication. I also started Remicade infusions. I was given the scary details/side effects of Methotrexate. Decided to still give it a try, knowing it will take up to three plus months to start working. This autoimmune disease thing is not for the weak y’all!
My medications included two folic acid pills daily. Iron pills because I was also anemic. I do that every other day because it causes constipation if I take them daily. Every other day is fine and my recent blood work shows me in the normal range again. Woohoo! Methotrexate 10mg weekly. Plus other meds I’m on for Blood Pressure and Hashimoto’s Hypothyroidism. A few weeks ago, I forgot to take my steroids. I didn’t have any pain. So I decided to take it day by day. I went the whole weekend with barely any pain. But the swelling! Good grief, the swelling in my ankles was ridiculous. My hands started to swell too. So, back on the steroids I went after speaking with my Rheumatologists office.
A “newer” thing that popped up is the pain in my lower back when I stand too long. I believe that’s do to lack of movement from when I was in all the pain I was in. I’m hoping it’s not Spondylitis! So, I will now start exercises to build up my back strength and core strength again. This way I will be able to walk further than a block without having to stop and lean against something. I am learning to walk up and down steps again because I had to take them one at a time for the longest time. I’m scared to walk them normally.
Some of the things I’ve found to help me in rebuilding my strength and to reduce the swelling in my ankles are this Grip Strengthener Kit, these Flex Bars, and these compression socks. As I navigate this new world for me, I know there will be plenty of other things I need and will continue to share them with you!
If you have, or a loved one has PsA, I’d love to hear any tips you may have! Comment below or share on my Facebook page!
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