One Woman's Journey With Undiagnosed Psoriatic Arthritis
Tracy Davenport thought her psoriasis was nothing to worry about—until arthritis arrived in her 50s.
Tracy Davenport grew up with sensitive, itchy skin. She never realized her life-long psoriasis, an inflammatory autoimmune condition, required treatment until she began dropping things in her 50s from her painfully stiff hands, the result of psoriatic arthritis causing swelling in her joints. This Healthumentary documents her journey from simply living with her condition to actively taking control of it. Now, with the right medications, as well as with a healthier diet and other lifestyle changes, Tracy is comfortable in her skin (and is mostly symptom-free).
Meet Tracy Davenport.
Tracy, who is 57, lives on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. She has a Ph.D. in human growth and development.
She also owns a successful wellness company and consults with Division 1 athletes.
You wouldn’t know it, but Tracy has psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis.
Though successfully managing her condition now, she went many years without a proper treatment plan for her psoriasis and, more recently, her psoriatic arthritis.
[Audio Quote] “I’ve always just kind of lived with psoriasis. The biggest thing for me has been the itch. I remember being in sixth grade, sitting in the hallway in school, and just scratching and scratching and scratching.”
She scratched all the time—and couldn’t make herself stop.
The winters in southwestern Ohio, where she grew up, were the worst. The cold, dry air caused her skin to flare for months on end.
“Hot summers were blissful,” she says, but when the heaters were turned back on, the itching started up again, too, like clockwork.
For years, her go-to treatments were tubs of cocoa butter and steroid creams. She’s used both to combat the itch. “They weren’t perfect, but they helped."
She didn’t know that her psoriasis would impact more than just her skin.
Since childhood, Tracy thought her psoriasis was just a skin condition. She lived with it. It was a part of who she was. Then, in her early 50’s, things got worse.
[Audio quote] "I started having, like, what I thought were sports injuries all over my body. The way we discovered that I had psoriatic arthritis was I was dropping coffee cups, a lot."
Alarm bells sounded. Her doctor referred her to a rheumatologist, a specialist focusing on joint issues.
That's where she received a diagnosis of psoriatic arthritis.
She realized psoriasis, an autoimmune disorder, does more than inflame and irritate your skin. It can harm you in the inside, as well.
For the first time, she was prescribed medication for inflammatory autoimmune disorders. It soon put her into remission.
Just as important, Tracy started taking her health much more seriously.
She improved her diet. She now eats tons of fruits and vegetables, and limits fried foods to once a week.
Tracy also loves to stay active, making regular exercise a key component to her treatment plan.
She exercises six to seven days a week, dividing her workouts between kayaking, biking, and walking.
“I even bought a rain suit so I could exercise outdoors in all kinds of weather.” Physical activity keeps her in shape and eases stress.
[Audio Quote] "Being in the sun helps me. I’m always outside. I eat outside, I read outside, I do my work outside whenever possible, and the sun really helps my skin."
Tracy wants everyone with psoriasis to take it as seriously as she now does.
Not only can it lead to arthritis, the inflammation it causes has also been linked to a higher risk for heart disease. That’s why she makes every effort to stay in remission.
For years, Tracy did not realize remission was possible. She thought her psoriasis would always be a part of her daily life. She didn’t know you could make it go away.
But with the help of her doctors, her medication, and the lifestyle improvements she’s made, her lifelong itch is mostly a thing of the past.
In every way possible, Tracy's now comfortable in her own skin.