My Journey with Psoriatic Disease
Last updated: March 2020
My name is Janet Geddis, and I have psoriatic arthritis. (Enter that hackneyed AA joke where I expect all of you to say, “Hi, Janet” in unison.)
My psoriatic disease journey
I committed to working with the PsA website before it was launched, yet I am only now getting words on paper to introduce myself. I’ve been a lurker on the site for quite a while now, and I really love reading other patient advocates’ articles as well as readers’ questions and feedback.
In 2005 or so, I launched an anonymous blog called “The Migraine Girl”; in 2010, I stopped posting original content on my blog and moved instead to migraine.com, where I am a patient advocate and health essayist to this day.
Struggling to write about psoriatic arthritis
For some reason, I have more confidence in writing about my struggle with migraines than I do my history with psoriatic arthritis.
Perhaps this is because my PsA symptoms have been quite manageable in recent years, to the degree that it seems like I’m somehow not a “real” patient. Please allow me to be the first to speak up in my own defense here: there are immense degrees of severity in any illness, including psoriatic arthritis.
Just because a person’s symptoms are mostly under control doesn’t mean that a person doesn’t have a legitimate illness. I know all this logically, yet it still feels a little strange to write about my journey with PsA.
Through my posts on this website and through conversations with you, I hope to unpack my story of chronic illness while connecting meaningfully with you all.
Psoriasis diagnosis first, then psoriatic arthritis
From what I can recall, my psoriasis diagnosis came when I was in second grade—I believe I was seven or eight years old. I vividly recall having a circular, dry spot on my inner knee, a spot that I simply could not stop scratching.
In addition to that spot, the back of my scalp was itchy and flaky, and I had visible (and very aggravating) psoriasis plaques in my crotch area. My mom took me to a dermatologist, who told me I had psoriasis. I got some topical creams and that was that. Until it wasn’t.
Psoriasis continued to plague me in small ways as I made my way through high school and college. The itchy spot on the back of my head has disappeared for a total of maybe six months over the last thirty years.
I worry at it when I’m reading or anxious, often when I’m not even conscious of my behavior. Right now it’s as calm as it’s been in years, but my itchy, flaky ears are another problem entirely.
My joint pain began longer ago than I can remember, but it wasn’t until I was 24 or 25 that I started investigating its roots in earnest. After thousands of dollars spent and many doctors visited (both general practitioners and specialists), I got a diagnosis when I was in my early 30s: I had psoriatic arthritis.
I felt almost giddy when I got my diagnosis and my first prescription. At last, a reason for my ongoing pain. I knew there was something systematically wrong in my body, a misfiring of my hyper-alert immune system.
My contribution to the community
Like my fellow PsA writers on this site, I will talk about issues that arise for me as a patient with both migraine disease and PsA.
I’ll delve into big-picture ideas as well as teeny details that—I hope!—will help you feel a little less alone with your struggles with this illness.
Until next time, new friends. I look forward to connecting with you.
Are you recently diagnosed with psoriasis?