How I Say Yes to Active Lifestyle With Psoriatic Arthritis

This year I joined the Walk to Cure Arthritis to help the more than 50 million Americans and 300,000 children with arthritis live better today and to keep the Arthritis Foundation’s promise of finding a cure for tomorrow.

I was diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis nearly nine years ago after waking up one morning with the inability to walk. I felt alone but mostly afraid. I was afraid I would never be able to walk again, I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to carry out my activities of daily living and I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to to take care of my daughter who was born with multiple disabilities.

Since my diagnosis, I have had to say no to ignoring my own health, and I am learning that the only way I can continue taking exceptional care of my sweet daughter is to remember to take exceptional care of myself. I believe that taking my medications, seeing my rheumatologist on a regular basis, eating well, exercising and keeping a positive attitude are a few of the best tricks to living with an incurable autoimmune disease. I also credit my supportive husband for reminding me to think of myself!

Arthritis is the leading cause of disability in the United States. It is a complex family of musculoskeletal disorders consisting of more than 100 different diseases or conditions that destroy joints, bones, muscles, cartilage and other connective tissues, hampering or halting physical movement. Psoriatic arthritis is a type of chronic inflammatory arthritis associated with the chronic skin condition psoriasis. Psoriasis most often causes patches of thick, reddened, irritated skin with flaky, silver-white patches called scales.

Psoriatic arthritis can manifest at any age, though most people are diagnosed between the ages of 30 and 50.

The main symptoms of psoriatic arthritis are painful, swollen joints, tenderness where muscles or ligaments attach to bones, particularly the heel and bottom of the foot, back painnail changes such as separating from the nail bed, or becoming pitted or infected-looking, morning stiffness, general fatigue, reduced range of motion, redness and pain in tissues surrounding the eyes (conjunctivitis).

I am not usually one to complain, but I do experience all of these symptoms on a daily basis. Still, I am proud of the fact that, despite having psoriatic arthritis, I have been able to say “yes” to living an active lifestyle. I am fortunate that I am able to independently carry out my activities of daily living, I have learned how to surf with my daughter, I attend fitness boot camp regularly and I even recently completed my first half marathon for charity.

My personal strength and hope always come from my daughter who inspires me to be a better, stronger person every day. She is one huge reason I never give up!

I am thankful for my involvement with the Arthritis Foundation as the 2016 Adult Honoree in Houston, Texas and I am dedicated to helping find a cure!

woman standing on surfboard with girl in the ocean
Monica surfing with her daughter.

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