I was 25 years old when I first started experiencing the symptoms of arthritis, and it took another 25 years before I was diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis—so I was 50 before I started receiving treatment that would actually help me.

My doctors have told me that psoriatic arthritis is hard to diagnosis because it can mimic the symptoms of other conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis and gout. This could be true, but I’ve had severe psoriasis since the age of five—with plaques over 90% of my body. Back in the day it wasn’t common knowledge that those with severe psoriasis have a greater chance of getting psoriatic arthritis.

I started having symptoms of arthritis around the age of 25. My nails would get thick patches of flaky skin underneath which would thicken and sometimes lift the nails as skin grew. Even with these symptoms, I was never tested for psoriatic arthritis, nor did doctors think I was bad enough to be treated or tested.

How I Came to Realize I Was Suffering With Psoriasis & What I’ve Done to Power Through It

Once the swelling started, it got hard for me to write. It got worse as the years went by; more swelling, sore feet, hands and shoulders. At the beginning, the swelling only lasted for a short time. I went to many doctors over the past 50 years. No one ever put together psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis. So each time I went to the doctor, it was treated as an isolated incident, and I was given more painkillers.

Over the next 15 years, my pain got worse. I was suffering with psoriasis, but I just learned to accept life and live with my condition and pain. Whenever my arthritis acted up, I learned to endure it for a few months until it calmed down. My arthritis got worse 10 years ago.

I knew I was in bad shape when I went to throw a quarter in a toll booth and couldn’t do it because the pain was so bad. I had to get out of the car to put a quarter in. Even lifting small things was getting to be a problem.

I had assumed that just like my other arthritic experiences, this flare would disappear as mysteriously as it came, but after a year or so, this was clearly not happening. I also started to develop pain in the ball of my foot, which again, got worse, with toes becoming swollen too.

At the age of 50. I was told I had psoriatic arthritis. This was music to my ear. I finally had a diagnosis and could start getting the treatments that I so desperately needed. I am presently on a biologic which have helped me to live a better quality of life, but still not pain free. I have been on several because sometimes they do stop working.

Advice From a Patient Advocate for Psoriasis

I know that many of you suffer the same as I do, and we all go from medication to medication, and think our life is over because we are constantly in pain. If you’re suffering with psoriasis, here’s some advice for you to consider:

  • I just want to say, don’t give up your dreams; just go for it.
  • I would not have imagined in a million years that I would be writing articles for Health Union. This is a dream come true and a great opportunity to get the word out about this disease.
  • The one thing that I have learned is that we are not alone in this journey. There is someone going through exactly what we’re going through.
  • We are not alone in this fight. I know there are times when you feel you can’t go on.  Please consider finding someone to talk to or join a support group.
  • Also, never let anyone tell you that you can’t be treated. There is a treatment that will help you. Just keep hoping that one day a cure will be found for psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis.

Over the years I have been an active advocate for psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis, speaking up and out about this disease.