Friday, August 19, 2016

Facing Forward: Ashley

Facing Forward is a series that shares the lives of people living with arthritis and other invisible chronic illnesses. The goal of the series is to see how we are similar and how we are different - and to remind us to keep moving forward because we aren't alone!

Name: Ashley
Location: Hutchinson, Kansas
Diagnosis: psoriatic arthritis
Age at Diagnosis: 26 for official diagnosis

How are you currently treating your condition?
I first went to a rheumatologist who said I had tennis elbow and gave me shots in my wrist and elbow. My blood work was clear and he just said I carried too many grocery bags. At this point it was just my left arm. I went to a chiropractor to did an ultrasound treatment on my arm, but shortly the pain traveled to my right arm. I then went to a Kinesiologist doctor for a year. We tried many different natural products but I continued to get worse. We did the healing diet and many natural supplements but I continued to get worse. My current rheumatologist, who gave me a diagnosis, has been treating me for 3 years. My blood work is still clear but I am not symptom free. Currently I am on Orencia, mtx, hydroxychloroquine, sulfasalazine, along with folic acid and vitamin D. I have done bi-weekly acupuncture treatments to help with the pain as well. While I do have a diagnosis of psoriatic arthritis she is often still searching for something else, but psoriatic arthritis fits the best.
What are the biggest challenges you have faced since your diagnosis?
I have had a hard time accepting the invisible illness part of it and how I can feel bad but others have no idea. I sometimes think that if I complain about the pain then maybe it will be more real to others. I am working on getting over that. My job as a preschool teacher assistant got hard to do as well as I wanted and the kids deserved. I am often tired by the end of a full work day and still have home duties to work on. My relationship with my kids and husband suffer as well, as I put limits on myself as to what I can do with them.

What are your favorite tips and tricks for managing everyday tasks?
I use OTC pain relief as needed as well as some pain relief creams. I use heating pats or ice as needed and try to limit stair use when my knees are hurting by keeping a laundry basket at the top of my stairs and having my kids, 9 and 13, help with laundry. I use a hand grip to open jars and cups/lids or ask others to help. I still try to do harder tasks such as mowing on days I feel good!

How do you manage to keep facing forward every day?
I try to find join in the things I enjoy such as nature and gardening and photography. I enjoy my animals and watching the job in my children and husband when they talk about things they love. I love working with children both in my job and at church. I push on daily for all those things.

If you could go back to diagnosis day and tell your past self one thing, what would it be?
Don't give up and try to do as much as you can! Don't sell yourself short on what you can do just because you think it might hurt.

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