When she looks back on it, she recalls her pain starting to occur gradually. Her joints began to get sore. Her back and shoulders felt achy.
“It was an irritating nuisance, but I could handle it.”
Sarcastically, she’d say things like, “Oh no, my body’s falling apart,” but it was no big deal. She could laugh it off. But over time, the pain got worse. Soon, she began to feel as though she couldn’t do anything without pain. She couldn’t sit through a long movie, let alone ride her bike.
“The pain had become my new normal.”
Jeanie’s doctor told her she had arthritis, and it was all part of the normal aging process—that she’d have to learn to live with it. She trusted her doctor, but she felt she wasn’t old, not by a long shot. She took the anti-inflammatory medications prescribed by her doctor, and went to physical therapy, but nothing seemed to help.
“I knew this had to be more than the everyday wear and tear, garden-variety arthritis.”
For years, Jeanie suffered through the pain, seeing doctors and specialists that couldn’t seem to come up with an answer for what she was going through. One day, Jeanie’s daughter said to her, “Mommy, did you want me to pump the gas for you?” and Jeanie realized she had to find the right answers to her illness.
A few years ago, Jeanie and her husband moved to a large city where she saw a rheumatologist—the man who would become her knight in shining armor. His team ran the same tests other doctors had run, and Jeanie went back in expecting to hear the same
But this time, it was different. “You have psoriatic arthritis,” he told her. Though upset, Jeanie’s main emotion was happiness: she was thrilled to finally have a real name for the debilitating pain that had been her constant companion for years.
“I finally felt validated that what I’d been experiencing was actually real.”
Jeanie’s rheumatologist answered her questions, and put her on anti-inflammatory medications. And then, Jeanie experienced her worst symptoms yet: a moment where the smallest movement caused her body to feel like it was on fire. Obviously, her current treatment plan wasn’t working. At an appointment a few months later, Jeanie’s doctor talked to her about Otezla® (apremilast).
They discussed possible side effects, and Jeanie’s doctor mentioned that it was a pill taken orally—and one he thought would be beneficial in the treatment of her psoriatic arthritis. Jeanie liked that Otezla wasn’t a biologic or an injection—that it came as a pill that she would take twice daily. So she told her rheumatologist she wanted to try it.
“I take the pill every morning and every night, and it's just a part of my daily routine now.”
Jeanie experienced mild headaches as a side effect of Otezla, but they have since gone away. After being on Otezla for 4 months, Jeanie noticed a change in how she felt. The swelling in her fingers and toes lessened, and the joint pain decreased. These days, she’s staying positive and looking ahead. She’s gotten back on her bike, and she’s slowly starting to work out again.
By finding the right doctor and getting educated, Jeanie found her voice and was empowered to make the best decisions for her.