The day was May 26, 2010. They told me I have a chronic inflammatory illness called psoriatic arthritis. The truth is, I already knew. It was no surprise by any extent of the imagination. And yet, just hearing it said out loud, confirmed, that I had a progressive illness I would have to manage for the rest of my life, was like a blow to my gut.
The reality is, I have suspected that I had arthritis for a couple years. The (permanent) damage to my joints suggests that I have had arthritis for over 10 years. I had a "bad wrist" when I was ten years old, with very limited range of motion. During that time I saw doctors and specialists of every flavor. I had one doctor tell me that my skin was tighter than normal and that was why my wrist didn't have the full range of motion. Of course that didn't explain why the right side was fine, or why I could hear the bones grinding together on the left side when I moved it. None of the doctors mentioned the possibility of arthritis and none of them provided me with any useful help.
Because I didn't get any answers, I began to internalize that living with pain was normal. It wasn't until it started spreading to my other joints that I started to pursue it again. I knew, inside, that it was not right, not okay, not normal.
So now, twelve years later (after six months on a waiting list to see a rheumatologist) (AND after months of pretests including x-rays, blood tests and bone scans) I had my diagnosis. The rheumatology team proceeded to bombard me with "You need to see this occupational therapist" and "You need to go get this blood test" and "We are prescribing you this drug". I reached a point during the appointment where I was completely overwhelmed and I started crying.
Why me? Why do I have to deal with this? I'm too young.
And that was it. I now had a lot of information, a lot of questions, and most importantly, a lot of options. I wasn't sure of much, but I knew that I wanted to be in the driver's seat for my journey to health.