Beth M., 32 | St. Louis, MO
When I was first diagnosed, I didn't really think of it as a serious thing. Until it really started covering my body, and I couldn't get rid of it. That's when it really sunk in that this is something serious that I can't hide, there's no cure.
I started to notice that my wrists, hands and ankles ached, and shortly after that I was diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis. I had to stop playing softball and volleyball. It was so painful that I just had to stop. I felt the worst after I would do activities.
I didn't want to have to try and explain my case, and that's how I felt. I felt that I was on display for everybody, at court where I had to prove my innocence that I was not contagious. I was not going to give this to you. I really only had a skin problem that nobody could catch from me. I know now that it made me a much stronger person, but at the time, I would have changed my life with anybody.
My dermatologist suggested I try HUMIRA. Since then, my PsA symptoms are much better. In fact, when I first started HUMIRA, I noticed that within the first three or four months, my joints felt much better and the plaques started to fade out within the first two months.
A treatment may be good, but if you're not willing to use it the way you're supposed to, then it's not going to be effective. To me, a good treatment is one that you're willing to stick with. You need to be comfortable with how often it needs to be done, how well it's working for you and helping your symptoms, and how happy you are with the response.
The advice I would give others with psoriatic arthritis would be that you think you're alone, but there's a lot of us out there. If you can get in touch with your dermatologist, there are support groups and I think it is very helpful to hear other people's stories and conditions. I think it helps you get through your day-to-day life and helps you deal with it a little bit better.
I think for patients who are looking for a dermatologist, it's your own personal opinion on whether or not your needs are being met. If you've learned early on that he's not very familiar with the disease or he doesn't have that many patients that he treats for the disease, then it's probably in your best interest to check out the National Psoriasis Foundation website and support groups for them. But also, their key component is finding a physician in your local area.
When you go to a dermatologist, you don't want to just sit there and listen to what they have to say. You can do research—the Internet is wide open to all kinds of information—so you can be knowledgeable before you go to your visit or you can just wait and see what he has to say. When you go there, you don't just want to be quiet about your disease because he sees patients from all ranges of severity of this disease. You definitely need to speak up to your physician and let them know how bad it affects you.
I would definitely tell a fellow patient that there is hope out there. Definitely do not give up. There are numerous medications out there for this disease.