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Erin's Story - PsA Awareness

My name is Erin and I’m 33 years old. I was diagnosed with psoriasis at age 9, psoriatic arthritis at age 14, and uveitis at age 30.

Erin always felt different as a child – more tired and unable to keep up with her peers. It wasn’t until she was 14 that she received diagnosis.

As a child I always felt different. I couldn’t keep up with my peers. I was slower, more tired and nobody could figure out why. My friends could climb trees, run fast and do so many that things I couldn’t. I had aches and pains that all doctors ignored. They would say I sprained my ankle, or that I needed to lose weight, or that I needed to be more active. It was frustrating because that’s exactly what I wanted as well and I felt like nobody was hearing me or understanding me. As an adult it’s hard enough to get doctors to listen to you but as a child it’s even harder. The pain in my ankle was persistent though. It would not relent and just kept getting worse. Doctors would X-ray it and say everything looked fine and send me home with a tensor bandage. My mother was fiercely determined as she knew something more was wrong. Something bigger was happening. Then, at age 14 we saw a new doctor. Expecting the same answers we were not very hopeful but this doctor took one look at my symptoms and my history and asked to see my fingernails. I had nail polish on and once it was removed he saw all the ‘pits’ in my nails and looked at my mom and said ‘she has psoriatic arthritis’. That was it. We finally had a diagnosis. An answer. I wasn’t imagining it. And so began the whirlwind that would become my ‘new’ normal. My ‘new’ life. I started oral methotrexate and naproxen that week, but I had to stop naproxen immediately as it turned out I am allergic!

High school was hard for me. I took two buses to school, two back home and that was a struggle. Stairs at school were also tough. I missed a lot of school. I did however complete a co-op course working in a kindergarten class. I achieved a 98% and received the perfect attendance award as I did everything I could to get there everyday to see those kids even if it meant crawling. I always knew I loved kids!

Erin, with her Husband at an end-of-season Baseball Party

In 2005, at age 19, I met my future husband. He is amazing. He understands me as best he can and doesn’t try to fix me or change me. We knew right away we wanted children and we spoke to my rheumatologist about conceiving. We knew we could possibly be in for a tough road. We weren’t sure what the medications or the disease itself had done to my body. Would we be able to have kids naturally? Or at all? By this time I had started a biologic called Enbrel to help manage my symptoms. My rheumatologist was very helpful. Directing me to stop all medications while trying. This proved to be very hard and painful but my family was so helpful during that time and I am forever grateful for that. I got pregnant fairly quickly and during pregnancy all my symptoms magically disappeared. I felt ‘normal’ for a while which was new and different and a relief. We welcomed our beautiful daughter in 2007. We knew we wanted her to have a sibling so we decided to try again. This time took almost two years but in 2013 we welcome our handsome baby boy!

Being a mom of two is sometimes a struggle. I have my days where getting out of bed and getting them ready for school is harder than others but being a mom is my proudest accomplishment. I know bringing them into this world is the reason I’m here. Watching them grow and accomplish their goals is everything to me. 

In May of 2017 I was diagnosed with uveitis. It is inflammation of the eye. It has proven to be the hardest battle yet as it could one day take my vision. I immediately started injections of methotrexate instead of oral and I also switched from Enbrel to Humira which has proven to be life changing. My symptoms were managed with Enbrel but since starting Humira I feel like I’m slowly getting my life back. My joints are feeling better and I can keep up with my kids a bit better. It’s been an adjustment giving myself injections but worth it to keep my vision in check. I have developed cataracts from the steroid eye drops but once they are fixed I will have my vision back to what it was before diagnosis!

While pregnant with my daughter I completed my certification in wedding planning so I hope to start doing that in the near future. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do since I was little and I’m proud I was able to accomplish that goal!

My psa has made me who I am today. A wife. A mom. A warrior. A fighter. I know I can achieve whatever I dream, I just do it a little differently than most. My husband is my rock and I know I could never have gotten to where I am today without him cheering me on. My kids are my life. They understand my disease as best they can and they understand mom is a little different. They are compassionate and helpful and amaze me everyday. I couldn’t be prouder!

Erin was able to take her daughter to visit her home of Newfoundland earlier this summer

Growing up with psoriatic arthritis has  given me the ability to have a voice, to advocate for myself when I know something is wrong or I know I need something different. I am working on not hiding my pain and letting people in and asking for help but it is a work in progress. Please reach out. Get the help you need. Whether it be mentally or physically. Awareness for psa is needed as it’s a rare disease and hard to diagnose. Most go undiagnosed way too long. Just know you’re not alone!

Read our other patient stories Here:

http://www.spondylitis.ca/support-community/your-stories/