Our latest story of overcoming adversity and learning to be an empowered patient is written by guest blogger, Lori-Ann. She teaches us that despite chronic illness life can be rewarding, fulfilling, and even more meaningful as she shares her perspective on the power of mentoring.
My name is Lori-Ann Holbrook. I am married, work in Manhattan, and live nearby in Jersey City. I was diagnosed with Psoriasis and Psoriatic Arthritis in 2012. Although it can be tough to stay active and enjoy life during a flare, or any other day, I believe the city life is the best environment for me. I rely on public transportation and my feet to take me everywhere. Although I am not as able as I was when I was younger, or before my disease got out of control, I still do the things I like in the city: shopping, museums, shows, and lots of walking! I eat a clean diet free of processed foods (most of the time) and try to stay active in order to keep my disease under control.
Although I was diagnosed with Psoriatic Arthritis in 2012, I had been noticing undiagnosed symptoms since 1989. Prior to my diagnosis, I was told my symptoms were due to excess weight. This made sense to me and is probably why I never pursued further testing. I also have Psoriatic Arthritis in my right knee, right shoulder, left hip, spine and ankles.
Right away I knew I’d need help managing my disease and coping. I went searching on the internet and located the National Psoriasis Foundation. I signed up for their Walk to Cure in New York that year and for a volunteer Mentor and, through these channels, met lots of other wonderful folks who were taking a role in activism for psoriatic disease. When asked if I would like to mentor other newly diagnosed, I jumped at the chance. It is after connecting with the Foundation and others that I decided to blog about my experience so that I may help others.
Through my writing I share some of the hurdles I face on a regular basis with my Psoriatic Arthritis, such as chronic pain; my daily struggles to accomplish simple tasks and chronic fatigue. Also, despite being one of the most cheerful people you may ever meet, I do have moments of anxiety and depression with my Psoriatic Arthritis. I write about these, too. It is not easy having an immune system that attacks my joints and tendons to the point I am deformed and needing surgery (three since my diagnosis). There are times I am anxious about how scary the future is and what I may have to look forward to. I get anxious about having to be away from work for doctor appointments, treatments and sick days. I get anxious about the possibility of having to retire early, and about being a burden to my coworkers and husband.
My diverse support system of friends, family and other e-health advocates is wonderful for times like these. When I am anxious or blue, these things help me:
- I look up photos of Psoriasis and Psoriatic Arthritis on the internet. Many of these patients have it worse than I do. They remind me that others are suffering much more than I;
- I read my news feed in Facebook, which includes several Psoriatic Arthritis support groups. In here, I see others’ celebrations, their triumphs and their struggles. Many folks do not have health insurance and cannot afford my biologic medication, others are divorcing, because the stress of chronic illness is too much. This reminds me to be happy for others, leads me to remember those in prayer who need it and take the focus off myself;
- I reach out to someone who understands, like myNational Psoriasis Foundation Mentor or my husband, to express that I am struggling. Most times, their listening helps the most;
- I count my blessings, it helps me to remember all I have to be grateful for; and
- I escape with a nap, a good book or movie. It is fun to “live” someone else’s life for two hours, or so.
In a nutshell, I do not feel alone with my diseases. If you have Psoriatic Arthritis or know someone who does, do not be afraid to reach out here:
National Psoriasis Foundation: https://www.psoriasis.org/
Psoriasis One-to-One Mentor program: https://www.psoriasis.org/newly-diagnosed/one-to-one
Like me on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/City-Girl-Flare/669016319861917
Follow me on Twitter: @CityGirlFlare
Thank you, Lori-Ann, for sharing your story with our readers! You tips are great and you inspire others with your positive outlook!
If you have a story to share with our readers about overcoming adversity or living with a chronic condition, please let us know. We’d love to have you guest blog for us. Guest blogging helps others outside of your disease area learn about your struggles and discover your passions. We will help promote your website and social media accounts, as well as your favorite advocacy group. Click here to get started sharing your story now!