[Elizabeth is an amazing person who has put up with so much pain since a young age but has come out the other end still smiling. Elizabeth blogs about her life with Psoriatic Arthritis here! Which I would really suggest you look at… One of my favourite arthritis blogs of all time! Thanks for writing a guest post for me Elizabeth!]
A chronic illness is a chronic illness. There are all sorts of them in the world, but they are all united by one word: Chronic. My dictionary defines the word ‘chronic’ as an adjective that means continuing for a long time (especially of a disease or something bad). And while using this specific dictionary, I decided to look up the term ‘chronic illness.’ What I found was a large list of diseases. Whilst the list was rather impressive, what impressed me the most was that one term united so many different things a person can be affected by. That made me think about all the different people who were just group together by one word. I’m unsure of what anyone else thinks about this, but personally I took it as a message that people with chronic illnesses should meet one another and learn about each other and their diseases (since they’re two separate things). The more we talk and learn, the more powerful we are.
My name is Elizabeth and I have had juvenile psoriatic arthritis since I was two. Rest assured, I have had it a very long time. My hips, knees, ankles, jaw and spine are affected by my arthritis. Psoriatic arthritis is simply a form of arthritis that is very similar to rheumatoid arthritis and affects people with psoriasis. Even though most people with PsA tend to have skin psoaisis, I don’t. I have nail psoriasis and a family history of skin psoriasis. My mum has severe psoriasis on her legs, which flare and become very painful. A lot of people fail to realise how horrible psoraisis is on it’s own, forget adding arthritis.
Due to having it at such a young age, I walked around believing pain was normal. I had a flare that required me to stay in hospital for a week when I was eight and that’s when I learnt people aren’t supposed to be in pain or have stiff joints. Most doctors didn’t take my mum or I seriously when we claimed I had pain. One doctor even concluded my pain to be a sports injury. ‘For what sport? I can barely get up stairs some days!’ It wasn’t until I was about twelve when I was referred to a paediatric hospital’s rheumatology ward. Instantly my life got flipped upside down: I was being seen every three or four weeks (sometimes more), being tested for everything on the face of the earth and became a little ‘lab rat.’ But a very hopeful lab rat.
I have since been on numerous medicines, spent hours doing physical therapy, missed at least 30 days of school since I was twelve for doctor’s appointments alone, and have ‘lost’ months from being very ill from medicine side effects and Psoriatic arthritis itself. However, I gained a lot too. I learnt a lot about sympathy and empathy, met tons of great people dealing with all sorts of chronic illnesses, found so much strength I didn’t even know I had, and am probably a better person today. At the moment, I take Enbrel (an injection I give myself twice a week)- a medicine that finally has given me relief and results. Even though I’m still limited, I’m finding life is starting to get easier.
As well as gaining all those wonderful things, I created a blog. That blog has been there through some miserable times, as well as very happy times. The only thing I wish is that it benefits others as much as it has benefited me. Arthritis has even found my true path in life: Art. I found that one of the best ways to cope with being sick a lot was through art. Whether it was making it or viewing it, art has always helped me feel better. Now, I encourage other people to do that same (if they’re able to). Many people have the mindset ‘seeing is believing,’ so why not use pictures and other art forms to help convey how we feel?