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When everything was hunky-dory, this author got handed a diagnosis of incurable psoriatic arthritis. How did she deal with it?
I got married at the age of 25 and within 10 months had my first child through C-section. I had a healthy and happy pregnancy. I recuperated very fast from my C-section and within 2 months I was back, managing my son along with my husband and no other help. I was taking care of my son, working from home, doing housework, going for walks and felt pretty good. Unlike many new moms, I didn’t have any issues both physically or emotionally.
Five years later, I was blessed with a beautiful daughter, again via C-section. Again, I recovered very soon and within a matter of a few days there I was, managing my two kids, home, work from home, and other stuff. When the kids are really young and the mother has no help apart from her husband, she cannot ‘afford’ to fall ill! I would simply pop a tablet on the days I had a bad headache or body ache and get back to the grind.
A few years later, I started having constant body aches and extreme fatigue. My blood tests showed that I was Vitamin B12 and Vitamin D deficient. It came as a surprise to me as I was healthy, ate well, and had never had any deficiency before. I had to get 20 vitamin B12 shots. My fatigue got much better but I would still continue to have body pain and stiffness off and on.
A few months later, I started noticing flakes coming off my scalp. I believed they were dandruff as I had dry hair and with the onset of winter, I thought perhaps the dryness of my scalp had increased. But then, I saw a few dry patches on my body. They would itch and eventually turn red.
During the same time, the stiffness in my legs and back gradually kept increasing. Sometimes it would be so bad that I dreaded to step down from my bed in the morning; when my feet touched the ground and I stood up, the pain all over my legs starting from the soles of my foot to my thighs would be excruciating. Some days, my back would be so stiff that I couldn’t turn to the other side. I literally stayed awake the whole night with the pain and stiffness.
As usual, I would take painkillers and try to subdue the pain and keep doing my chores. But soon I couldn’t carry on my chores standing even for 1 hour. At that point, I decided to consult an orthopedician as I felt that the pain was in my very bones and muscles. The orthopedician took my x-rays and found nothing alarming. I took the opinions of 3-4 doctors and then one of them suggested that I visit a rheumatologist.
Taking charge of my health – and life
Within a week, I consulted one of the best rheumatologists of Mumbai. She checked my skin and muscle movements, prescribed a few tests, and asked me to come back with the test results. On returning, I got the diagnosis: psoriatic arthritis, an autoimmune disorder that had no treatment or cure. She said she would give medicines to keep it under check but couldn’t assure me of any cure.
At first, I was heartbroken. I was only 35 years old. How would I survive with this incurable disease for another 30 years? I had two small kids to take care of. I wanted to travel; I wanted to do so many things. The diagnosis had left me shattered.
But then I decided to take charge of my health. I knew that lamenting my fate wouldn’t help. The doctor said that stress aggravated this condition. So, I decided I would stay positive. I started practicing yoga and going for walks though I must admit the walks sometimes aggravate the leg pains.
I know I have to live with this disease for the rest of my life now and hence I have accepted it and instead of crying or getting depressed, I try to lead a more healthy and positive life now. I don’t take steroid medications for this.
I was never an ‘exercise person’ throughout my life, but I was suggested Yoga as Yoga improves flexibility which in turn helps the stiff joints. Initially, when I joined yoga class it was really very, very tough as I couldn’t bend or even stretch properly! Eventually, through daily practice of a few relevant asanas and Suryanamaskar, my flexibility improved. I still have a long way to go in terms of mastering the asanas perfectly but regular Yoga helps alleviate the stiffness a lot as well as calms my nerves. I make this investment in myself.
Yes, there are really bad days of pain and skin flakiness but a very supportive family and my own will to live life to the fullest has kept me going. I firmly believe that a positive attitude can work wonders and nothing can break me.
Like most Indian women I took care of the entire family but myself. After this condition, I started taking my health more seriously and began focusing on myself. I realized that all these years I had started taking my health for granted. Apart from regular yoga and walks, I have started to ‘let go’ of things. I try not to hold any grudges. I do believe that health is not just physical – holding on to grudges affects the mind and in turn one’s health. I religiously dedicate some time now just for myself.
Ultimately, life may hand us very uneven cards when it comes to health, but we can all do something with the cards that we are given.
Have you taken up your health as a priority and got on the road to #BehadZindagi? That’s what Aditya Birla Health is encouraging you to do. Check out the inspiring stories of Adil Ansari, Primla Hingorani and Kanchan Daniel as part of the #BehadZindagi initiative by Aditya Birla Health.
Primla Hingorani, often called Aunty 72, is a Marathon runner in her seventies, while Kanchal Daniel has discovered her passion for performing music after facing Cancer. Adil Ansari, a promising swimmer, lost motor function in 90% of his body after an accident, but is now an accomplished archer – in fact, the National Level Champion in Para Archery.
Many more such beautiful stories are being featured here at the Aditya Birla Health Facebook page and via Twitter. If you have a story of how you made health a priority and overcame your life challenges, you can send it as a post, picture or a video. Have your story featured and inspire others to live a #BehadZindagi! Learn more on how to participate.