Psoriatic Arthritis: Help Others, Help Yourself


Summer Scirocco

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people sitting in circle during support group

After my daughter was born, I started to feel pain in my joints and develop scaly patches on my feet and hands. I struggled for a long time to find out why I was so sick, and finally I found out I had psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis, two related autoimmune conditions that cause scaly patches on skin and joint pain. But even though I was relieved to know what was wrong, I got to a very low place after my diagnosis. We tried different medications, but nothing clicked right away. I couldn’t walk, couldn’t hold my daughter, couldn’t live my life. My husband was my saving grace. When I was nauseous from the meds, but couldn’t walk to the bathroom to vomit, he’d pick me up and carry me there. One night, I was in a lot of pain and feeling especially depressed about my situation. I told my husband I didn’t want to try anymore; I didn’t want to live, and if I did live, I’d rather just not have legs at all. He looked at me and said, “You’re not going to let this illness rule you. You’re not going to let this illness take over and ruin your life. When you get backed into a corner, what do you do? Do you give up? No. You stand and fight and take control. You do something that can make a difference with your disease.”

That night changed my life. I finally accepted what had happened. I say now that I never knew my strength until I accepted my weaknesses. I had to accept that some days are going to be worse than others. I had to accept that I can’t do all the things I used to do. I had to accept that things were going to be different. I decided that I wanted to do for others what my husband had done for me. I reached out to volunteer with the National Psoriasis Foundation and became an advocate for others with my disease. It took a long time to find the right medication, but volunteering helped me feel like I had a purpose during those tough times. And once I did find a treatment that worked, I was proud to be an example for others and show them they could get better.

Living with swollen, achy joints that come with psoriatic arthritis can be difficult, but it’s all about finding the right treatment and staying positive.

Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Review Date: Apr 29, 2017

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