Adjusting to the New, New Normal
I’ve lived with rheumatoid arthritis for about 40 years, so I should be used to the trials and tribulations of the disease. However, it keeps changing! While things generally stay the same, they also change.
My latest challenge is not the RA, but a new companion, as I was recently diagnosed with inverse psoriasis. Over the years, I have collected other co-occurring conditions. (Collected! Ha! Like it’s a hobby!) However, this condition is a new and unwelcome guest. Actually, I wish it were a guest as that would suggest a temporary visitor. But I am afraid the psoriasis is here to stay.
Restarting my biologic to help with RA symptoms
Since my recent health crisis and hospitalization where I developed a skin rash from undiagnosed (and severely aggravated psoriasis), my health has stabilized. I have been able to restart my biologic medication and my RA symptoms have improved. This was good because, after nearly two months off my biologic, I was having a rapid increase in pain, stiffness, and really irritating and uncomfortable leg swelling. At least now I am returning to a little normalcy: this RA experience has resumed its regularly scheduled programming.
Is my case of psoriasis a side effect of biologics?
However, I now have a new twist. When I was diagnosed with the psoriasis, I did some research and learned that a small percentage of RA patients taking biologics can develop it as a secondary condition. We are not sure if this happened, but it makes as good as sense as anything.
I think of it as my body rebelling. Or as a James Cagney-like gangster: “Think you’re so smart, do ya?! Think you’re gonna quiet the RA, see?! Well, I’ll show ya!” Followed by machine-gun fire. Or in my case, skin inflammation that turns into infection and psoriasis.
Will taking my biologic make my psoriasis worse?
It’s too early, but I’m concerned the longer I am back on the biologic (and the better that my RA is feeling), the worse the psoriasis will become. I’ve noticed it seems to flare up more in the second week, when my shot is really working at its best.
Should I change my biologic now or wait and see?
I may need to switch biologics, but that may not be the answer either. And I loathe making a change when this is the first medication to work this well through a lifetime of RA. (I mean, you gotta admit, that is one helluva wait.)
Being diligent about checking my skin
So, my approach is to wait and see. Practice patience (try not to freak out) and monitor. My RA symptoms are improving, so the biologic is doing its work. I am grateful for this. Now a new addition to my daily routine is checking my skin twice a day for little spots of psoriasis. I kid that I am turning into a leopard, but I really wish it were that fun!
For me, so far, the psoriasis is a maintenance project. I need to keep track and treat immediately with some steroid cream to keep my skin as healthy as possible. My hope is that vigilance will help me keep ahead of things so I can keep it at bay and prevent further infections.
Adjusting to the new, new normal
My experience with RA is that I sometimes have these occurrences with my illness where I am adjusting to a new normal (now, its been so many news I have lost count!). It could be a change in medication, a new or changing symptom, a new co-occurring condition. Sometimes I have lost some joint mobility and I need to get some physical therapy or adjust my movements. It can definitely throw me. And sometimes it isn’t a new normal, but a temporary blip. It just isn’t always easy to tell until time passes.
My new life with both RA and psoriasis isn’t what I expected, nor is it easy. But it is do-able. I just need a little time and I’ll adjust to the new, new normal.
On a scale of 1(low) to 5(high), how difficult is it for you to talk about having RA?