My psoriasis started when I was 14 and I received the usual coal tar ointment and sun-ray treatments at the local hospital. It wasn't until my daughter was born that a couple of my fingers became swollen. After the birth of my son 4 years later the condition deteriorated. I was living aboard and came home to the UK for specialist attention, it was then that psoriatic arthropathy was diagnosed.
My UK Consultant was loathed to prescribe steroids in view of my age (24). I was in complete agreement with this, as living outside the UK specialist follow up was not available, and I was unwilling to take the risk of this treatment without it. I then started on a succession of non steroidal anti inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) which carried on for years.
I moved back to the UK and I was started on a course of methotrexate, although regular liver function tests are necessary as the drug can have dangerous side effects, this is a minor inconvenience and I am grateful to be able to benefit from the excellent medical facilities available in this country. The methotrexate has improved the condition of my skin and I have almost been able to stop taking the NSAIDs (just as well as they had been causing stomach problems for years!). I have also noticed no further deterioration in my joints since starting this treatment.
But unfortunately I have to live with the damage that psoriatic arthritis has already inflicted on me. Both my hands are now severely deformed and I also have trouble with walking any more than a short distance without the aid of orthotic insoles.
Although I try to make the best of it, daily life is far from easy. Imagine doing everything you normally do with your hands, and then imagine doing it with your fingers curled into a tight fist -this is how my hands are, permanently. Sometimes the simplest tasks become a feat of major engineering. I have a car with power steering and electric windows which I have no trouble driving, but when I enter a 'pay and display' car park I am unable to get hold of the ticket with my hands and have to use my teeth! Similarly if I use a pay phone and my money is returned, I can't retrieve it and if I drop coins or pieces of paper picking them up is very difficult. New 'hospital style' lever taps have been fitted throughout the house, so I can now turn them on and off but unfortunately I have had to admit partial defeat with the housework and gardening and now have regular weekly help.
Over the years I have become adept at coping with my deformity and finding ways around the problems I face. But occasionally the pain in my hands is unbearable and I can't even manage to do the simplest things, which leads to a great deal of frustration.
Sadly my daughter also suffers from psoriatic arthritis and my son has psoriasis, but I am hopeful that medical research will ensure a better future for them.