Having lived with psoriasis since her early childhood, Rachel developed psoriatic arthritis in her teens. She is now keen to raise awareness that arthritis doesn't only come with old age.
I've had psoriasis for as long as I can remember. It seems to have been hereditary with some family on my Mother’s side being known to have had it. As a child, the psoriasis was guttate and mainly on my elbows, knees and scalp. I was prescribed lots of different topical treatments from the doctors, a memory that sticks out is the coal-tar shampoo and the smell from it!!
As I got older, the psoriasis worsened and spread to my stomach and began to travel from my scalp, down onto my face. At this age, I was in my early teens and I remember feeling really self-conscious of how noticeable it felt. Around this time I started to get pain in my feet. I would be up most nights, with terrible cramps in both feet. For a long time, my Mum and I presumed I had simply stubbed my toes. After this having continued for a few weeks, we went to the GP and she decided to refer me to the local children’s Rheumatology clinic. This is when they realised that psoriatic arthritis had developed alongside the psoriasis.
During many consultations and discussions, it was decided to start me on weekly Etanercept injections. I don’t remember a lot from this period but I vividly remember one of the last appointments, the Consultant saying that if I didn’t start the medication and nip the inflammation in the bud, there was a chance I could be crippled with it by the age of 21. As I now approach that age, I’m so glad that I had the courage to start the medication when I did, meaning I am now coping well.
Reading others’ stories of their experiences of having psoriasis/psoriatic arthritis has helped me realise I’m not the only one in this position just because I am young. I hope by sharing my own story that others out there will be a bit more aware that conditions like arthritis don’t always only come with old age.