Today Julie Croner shares her psoriatic arthritis journey. Please remember that Julie and I are not medical professionals and cannot give medical advice. We are just sharing our experiences and opinions. Check out her blog It’s just a bad day, not a bad life, and be sure to follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
In the beginning
I started having knee problems when I was in fifth grade. At first, the doctors treated me symptom by symptom, but soon were unsure of how to help me. When I was in middle school, my orthopedic surgeon suggested I see a rheumatologist. I ended up getting two opinions. One said nothing was conclusive, but the other suggested I had psoriatic arthritis. Because I wasn’t even through puberty yet, he didn’t think it was a good idea to start on the new drugs that has just hit the scene – biologics. He suggested I treat the flare ups as they came.
I never believed what he said. I remember my Mom and I having screaming matches when she would suggest my problems were arthritis related. I was a young teen, not a grandma. How could I have arthritis? We didn’t have the internet to do research and I certainly didn’t know anyone who had psoriatic arthritis. My family and I had no idea what psoriatic arthritis even meant. None of us truly understood what it meant until about 17 years later.
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What started as a simple surgery (my 4th knee surgery) in June 2012, turned into having another surgery in September (my 5th), resulting in a week-long hospital stay in December 2012. As I laid in that hospital bed, I wanted anything and everything that could get my pain and inflammation under control. I couldn’t even move without pain shooting through my whole body. I spent weeks on end not being able to rest or function. After “officially” being given a diagnosis of psoriatic arthritis I was put on methotrexate. About 3 months later, I began taking Humira. I first started taking Humira bi-weekly, but after a year of taking it I switched to weekly.
During the course of 2012 and 2013, I was put on so many different medications. At the height of it all, I was on 9 different prescription drugs, plus two different injections. It was for a myriad of different conditions – psoriatic arthritis, avascular necrosis, complex regional pain syndrome, depression, anxiety, prothrombin thrombophilia, and melanoma. Every time I went to the doctor with a new symptom, I was given a new prescription.
Time for a change
I really started to get fed up and knew there had to be a better way. Learning from others on Twitter, Facebook and through blogs, I started a journey to change my life.
I became a data crunching machine, logging EVERY little thing about myself. I created my own pain scale so that I could accurately reflect my pain on a day-to-day bases and a massive excel spreadsheet to log every little data point I could think of. My chiropractor has always taught me that everything can be traced back to a physical, emotional or chemical cause. I was determined to figure out what was making me sick and how to manage it.
In the end, I was able to create my own personalized treatment plan. I started putting things together and began to eliminate foods, toxins, activities and other things from my life that caused me flare ups. I went being on disability, spending 5-6 days not able to get out of bed, to working and even teaching yoga twice a week! After all my research, there are 5 main pillars to my psoriatic arthritis treatment: Diet, supplements, avoiding toxins, meditation, and yoga/movement.
I was able to get off of ALL of my medications after making these adjustments. I stayed off of Humira for 2 years, but just within the last few months, I did have to start back on Otezla. It was a tough pill to swallow (pun intended), but I know I have to do what’s best for my body.
Living an amazing life
Every day I have to focus on managing my condition. Whether it’s the food I eat, the amount of rest I get, how much work I’m doing or focusing on self care. My condition never gives me a day off. BUT, having said that, I still live an amazing life.
Throughout all of my health struggles, I’ve truly found my strength. I’ve found my passion in life, I’ve met some pretty inspiring people (like Cynthia!) and I even had the opportunity to present at Stanford Medicine X this past year a case study on all of the changes I’ve done to manage my psoriatic arthritis. Had I not gone on this healthy journey, I wouldn’t be where I’m at today. And for that, I am grateful.