Happy New Year from all of us at PsA and Me! As per usual, a new year has me feeling reflective, so I thought I’d share my reflection on my disease management for 2017 and my hopes for 2018.
When 2017 started, it seemed everything in my life was changing. First, I decided to go out on disability with my PsA. I had been in a flare since my mother’s passing in late 2015 and did not think remission was going to be possible, again. Losing my New York income made it necessary for my husband and me to relocate somewhere less expensive, and where there was family who could help me out. So, we moved to Dallas, Texas, my husband’s hometown. On January 4, my father was diagnosed with liver cancer and lived only 10 more days. I was able to spend the last four with him. Did you know it is almost impossible to achieve remission if your depression is not in good control? I learned the hard way. Thanks to my new rheumatologist, I was able to wean from opioids, find a good psychiatrist, and start physical therapy. All of these came together and I was finally able to achieve remission of my PsA in July. It was a lot of hard work, but I made it out the other end stronger.
As we’ve discussed on PsA and Me this year, I define remission as fewer flares and a noticeable reduction in pain, allowing me to do the things I love. Here is exactly what changed in 2017 to help me achieve remission:
Medication Dosing – Having moved, I needed to find a new rheumatologist. It was her opinion that I was under-dosed on my biologic. She made the change immediately and it took several months before I started feeling better;
Psychiatric Intervention – Having confessed the depth of my depression after leaving my job, moving and losing both my parents a year apart, my rheumatologist urged me to see a psychiatrist who could review my medications and find out how to help me cope better. This, along with intense talk therapy helped me work through my feelings and even helped me sleep better.
Physical Therapy – Once I was correctly dosed, my rheumatologist felt I could benefit from gentle physical therapy. It took me a while to get started, but I could see and feel myself getting stronger. I have other conditions working against me and it was so good to partner with physical therapists who knew how to help me without hurting me.
So, now that it’s been a whole year of many challenges and victories, here is what I hope for in 2018:
Medically – I plan to sit down and talk with my rheumatologist about new disease management techniques and whether she thinks a change would be good for me;
Physically – With my doctor’s blessing, I plan to add gentle cardio in the swimming pool to get stronger and help lessen my fatigue;
Emotionally – Although I’ve recently graduated from regularly scheduled talk therapy, I plan on continuing my journaling and practicing my assertive communication. I am through apologizing for my condition and the bad days I have with my PsA.
I think these plans (or resolutions) are good for now. I’d like to master them before adding others. I hope you feel encouraged reading this. Let us know your hopes for 2018 with your PsA, we’re here for you.
This article was written by Lori-Ann Holbrook, a regular contributor at PsAndMe.com, a social site dedicated to helping the whole PsA community.