Hello strangers. Sorry it’s been such a long time. 2022 has been, well, it’s been a long story. I may save that for another blog. Today though, instead of talking about (just) the present, I’m taking us back to the past. Back to the turn of the century. OK, that sounds forever ago, so I’ll go with the “turn of the millennium” instead.
It was around then that I started waking up with aches and pains. It was around then that I would have to start taking over-the-counter pain medication at an alarming rate and soak in the tub just to function. This was when the internet was used for basic games, some news, email, and things like that. Believe it or not, there was no social media during this time. Wikipedia was in its infancy as well. TV commercials weren’t showing arthritis medications all the time. We’ve come a long way.
Why am I bringing this up? Because 20 years ago this summer, I started the job that gave me the insurance, that allowed me to go to the doctor, who diagnosed my arthritis, which led me down this journey. While my symptoms started earlier, this is around the 20th anniversary of my psoriatic arthritis.
I remember not knowing much about psoriatic arthritis 20 years ago. I remember not being able to find much about psoriatic arthritis 20 years ago. I remember not really knowing anyone closer to my age having arthritis 20 years ago. A chronic pain disease is no fun as it is, but being isolated with it is even scarier. Without finding people with arthritis in general, much less my type, I didn’t know what to expect.
What’s changed in 20 years? First of all, social media has improved connection with other patients. Yes, social media has its issues these days, but when trying to connect with others, it is a very valuable tool. I am able to reach out to others if I have questions. I am able to read others’ accounts of their journey with this disease. Others are able to read about my journey with this disease.
That has actually happened, and it’s been a happy shock. I have had a couple of friends privately reach out to me and tell me they have psoriatic arthritis. They said that they aren’t the type to put their story out there and talk about it, but they are on this same train with me. Also, I have had a friend reach out to others that she knows who have psoriatic arthritis. She tells them to reach out to me or read this blog. Twenty years ago, even if I had the means to share my story, I’m not sure I would have had the knowledge or bravery to do it.
Medical advances have happened in the last 20 years as well. I was diagnosed right around the time biologic medications were being introduced. At first there was one, then another, now there are many medication options of many different types. This gives doctors and their patients choices in treatments that they didn’t have 20 years ago. Back then, you ran through the gamut of medications much quicker. Plus, much more information is available from not only patients, but also from doctors, hospitals, researchers, and organizations to tell us about our disease. Knowledge truly IS power.
It hasn’t been an easy 20 years, but I know I’m in a much better position than I was back then. I hope that these next 20 years will bring even more wonderful improvements for those of with psoriatic arthritis. Let’s keep talking about it and fighting for us!
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