“I Enjoy My Life!”

Concert, anyone? Denise LaDelia is up for it, especially if it’s a hard rock show. “I love the crowd,” she chuckles. “I love dancing around!” And bowling night? Count her in. “I’m on a league,” she says. “Hey, you can’t stop living!”

Not to say there haven’t been challenges since her diagnosis of psoriatic arthritis 20 years ago—like the concerts where she’s had to walk a little slower to her seat. Or the rare bowling night when she’s had to call a stand-in. “From time to time, I’ve had to make adjustments,” the Rochester, NY, native concedes. “When the pain has been bad, it’s to the couch with ice packs!”

But thanks to the biologic medication she’s on, those times are few and far between. So she’s able to head to softball practice with her 9-year-old daughter, Giana, or take a bike ride. “You need to move those joints. If they lock up, the pain is worse!” She’s also able to manage her full-time job as an executive recruiter. “My meds and my doctors—they’re my godsend!”

“I’ve come so far!”

Denise found out she had psoriatic arthritis when trouble walking sent her to the emergency room. There, doctors drained a knee, bringing temporary relief. Days later, she met with her family doctor, who recognized the signs of psoriatic arthritis. “He knew I’d been diagnosed with mild plaque psoriasis a few years earlier. When he saw the pitting in my nails and heard about my knee pain, he sent me to a rheumatologist.”

A course of oral methotrexate soon put her in remission. “Everything was fine. I moved to Dallas and went on with my life.” But a few years later, a flare ground things to a halt. “I was working two jobs at the time. One was a nighttime job in retail—I was on my feet all the time. Suddenly, I could barely walk. It was in my hands, too—I couldn’t open a milk carton!”

Denise returned to Rochester and the family, friends and care providers she knew. By working closely with her doctor, she ultimately hit upon the treatment that’s been working wonders—a biologic drug that keeps her working, mothering, bowling and attending concerts. Here’s how Denise stays on top of her health:

Find strength from folks who “get it.”

“Years ago, I went to the first meeting of a National Psoriasis Foundation support group in Rochester, and two years later, I headed up the group!” says Denise. “I’ve had this disorder for 20 years. If I didn’t have anyone to talk to, I would have felt defeated!”

Get the understanding you need.

“Educating people about psoriatic arthritis is a huge point. People don’t know much about the disorder. I tell people—my daughter, my co-workers—so they understand. And they’ll know what’s happening if I’m low and need a break.”

Listen to your body.

“My energy ebbs and flows. Your body tells you what it needs. When I feel tired and achy, it’s saying, ‘Hey, we’re working overtime.’ When you’ve slept long enough, it tells you, ‘We’ve got to move around!’ ”

Lean on others.

“I’m pretty independent, so I used to hate asking for help. Then, I realized, it’s okay! In a flare, what else are you going to do? So I’ll have someone take care of Giana for a few hours, or I’ll tell her I need her help. She’ll do the dishes, help with dusting and clean up after herself.” 

Have a story to share? We’d love to hear it! Email us your advice for coping with psoriasis at: Guides@healthmonitor.com

Published September 2013 

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"I Enjoy My Life!"
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