#ChronicLife My Daily Modifications For Psoriatic Arthritis
There isn’t a day that goes by that I do not have to modify something because of my psoriatic arthritis. I’m always watching what I eat, what I do, what I don’t do, and modifying my behaviors to ensure that I don’t overdo it. Each of my days are a little different, but each day incorporates certain aspects that are the same.
Here are the highlights of my day and the modifications I need to make because of my autoimmune arthritis.
I never was one to jump out of bed in the mornings, but the last few years, it’s been increasingly difficult to get up. Some days I wake up, feel all right, and can get out of bed with no problem. While others are more challenging and may take me awhile to get going. I usually know what kind of day it’s going to be before I even open my eyes.
If my hands are hurting, and I find it hard to make a fist, I grab my heating pad and put it on for 15 minutes.
If my body is hurting, I accept the fact that I’m probably going to have to be lazy for the next hour and gradually get up. I have my alarm set in 15 minute increments, so that I gradually wake myself up.
Fifteen minutes before I know I need to get out of bed, I put my stim machine on my legs, and work out my quad muscles.
Each morning and evening I take my supplements. I’m currently not on prescription medication, but I take many supplements that I believe help support me and manage my condition. Supplements like vitamin B12, vitamin C, spirulina, zinc, N-acetyl cysteine, tumeric, lysine, licorice root, cats claw, olive leaf — just to name a few. (Want to know my suggestions? Check them out here) I know it may seem like I take a lot of supplements, but I personally feel they target the root cause of my psoriatic disease.
I have found that using an electric toothbrush helps my hands. It doesn’t take all the pressure off of my hands, but it definitely helps. The thick barrel of the toothbrush allows me to grip easily, and the fact that the motorized head does most of the work helps tremendously! Sure, most days my hands feel all right, but I continue to use modifications like this even on the good days to help save my hands.
I have found that many toxins in our daily lives can cause an inflammatory response in our bodies. To me, that means that I am very strict with what I put on my body in terms of lotions, make-up, hair products, shampoo, soap, and everything else you can think of. Therefore, all of the products that I use to get ready are either made by myself or I have bought after scrutinizing all of the ingredients.
I start my day by juicing celery. Straight celery juice, on an empty stomach, is an amazing “medication.” It helps promote digestive health, it balances the acids in your stomach, the mineral salts help hydrate and replenish electrolytes, and it helps calm down your nervous system. I look at my celery juice as part of my treatment plan. To begin with, I started with just about ¼ of a cup and have worked my way up to drinking 8-16 ounces each morning. Due to its profound effects on your stomach, you have to ease into it because it can cause an upset stomach.
I allow the celery juice to be in my stomach for an hour before I eat something. Usually, I then use my juicer and make a green juice mid-morning. An example juice I would make is: kale, spinach, romaine lettuce, cucumber, celery, pear, lemon, and ginger. Recently, I’ve been enjoying putting grapes in my juice!
I’ve had to drastically modify my work schedule to accommodate my psoriatic arthritis. Currently I work part-time, from home. I’ve had to modify my desk so that it is ergonomically conducive to my body. I’ve raised my laptop, hooked up a supplemental monitor, have a special mouse pad to support my wrist, set up an external keyboard, and utilize talk to text software (that is how I am writing this post right now).
Sitting at a computer, and working all day, really has an effect on my hands and my body. I used to work so many hours at my old job. It seemed like I worked 24/7/365. At that time, I thought I was able to keep up. But looking back, one could argue that this could be a reason why I am in this situation now. Therefore, I had to modify my career in order to still feel well enough to participate in life.
Even though I work part-time, I feel like I have a full-time job in managing my health. Working part-time allows me to still get to my doctor appointments, physical therapy appointments, acupuncture appointments, and chiropractor appointments, all while giving me time to rest. I feel very fortunate to work at a company that understands my health concerns and always has my best interest at heart.
For lunch, I eat depending on how I feel. Usually, I will make a smoothie with wild blueberries to ensure that I get the healing properties of this food in my daily diet. But some days, if I’m not in the mood for a smoothie, I will make a salad. Regardless of what I eat, I try to make my lunch a raw food meal. Meaning, I stick to fruits and vegetables in their raw state to ensure that my body is getting the most delicious nutrients and vitamins that they can provide.
After sitting at my computer for a few hours straight, I always need movement. If I don’t, my body becomes extremely tense, achy, and my hands will start to flare. It may seem counterintuitive to a non-arthritic person, but sitting and working at my computer all day really hurts my body. But when I teach my yoga class twice a week, I always feel tremendously better after.
I achieve this movement in a few different ways. Recently I have been attending physical therapy twice a week, occupational therapy twice a week, and I teach yoga twice a week. On my off days, I make sure to get on my mat and do my own yoga practice. Depending on how my body and joints are feeling, I may also use the elliptical.
Movement is so crucial when you have chronic inflammation. In the autoimmune arthritis community, many often joke “if you don’t move, you fuse.” Meaning, if you don’t get your lymphatic system moving the inflammation in your body, you can end up with fused joints. That is something that I do not want, so I’m trying to prevent it as much as I can.
For dinner, I eat a mix of raw and cooked foods. Typically, I will make roasted vegetables, a salad, sautéed veggies, or grilled vegetables. I currently am only eating fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds. I have found that this diet really helps my inflammation and helps manage my symptoms.
I’ve gone through many different iterations of diets, identifying my specific triggers. I truly believe we all have a different diet that will work for us. I always say that an elimination diet is imperative for anyone who has a chronic condition so you can figure out what foods work (and don’t work) for you. For instance, I know if I eat grains, the following day I will be extremely tired. If I have sugar, I know that my knees, my SI joint, and my hands will bother me the following day. I find maintaining a STRICT diet helps me manage my symptoms.
There are many different ways you can incorporate meditation into your life. I prefer the Headspace app on my phone, but there are so many tools and resources online for you to use! I’ve been using Headspace for the last four years and I find that it helps give me a daily dose of mindfulness. These meditations help balance my nervous system, reduce anxiety, and help control pain. Very rarely is there a day that goes by that I do not complete a meditation. In fact, as of the publish date, I have successfully completed 275 consecutive days on the headspace app. I find that meditation is a big part of my psoriatic arthritis treatment plan, and I have found most chronic patients would agree that it helps tremendously in managing conditions.
Getting enough rest is vital. If I do not sleep at least eight to nine hours a night, my body feels it. I want to keep my body running in the most optimal way that I can, therefore I always prioritize my sleep and make sure that I get enough.
Whenever my condition wasn’t well managed, I had a lot of difficulties sleeping. Pain can really wreak havoc on your sleep patterns. As I’ve made changes in my life, and incorporated some natural sleep solutions, I’ve seen my sleep transform. Now I sleep restfully and peacefully and wake up as well-rested as I can be.
Every day I need to modify my activities because of my arthritis, but that doesn’t mean I can’t still live an awesome life! Making these modifications in my day helps me manage my psoriatic arthritis and allows me to be productive.
Julie Cerrone is a Psoriasis HealthCentral Social Ambassador, certified holistic health coach, ePatient advocate, yoga instructor, autoimmune warrior and the blogger behind It's Just A Bad Day, NOT A Bad Life. Helping chronically fabulous patients realize they can live their best life possible, Julie stresses the importance of finding your own personalized treatment plan. Check out her Elimination Diet 101 eCourse which will help jump start creating your own plan.