Inside I wanted to scream, scream for all the times doctors looked at me like I was crazy, scream for all the times I further pushed myself to get up, try harder, take the stairs and smile like everything is perfectly fine. But no sound escapes my lips, I take the leaflets about psoriatic arthritis (PSA) and hobble off to further tests that now seem scary and have the potential to alter my future.
I read the leaflets Ginny the nurse handed over, with shock and horror in my heart, alone in the pathology lab, imaging room and pharmacy. This has to be a mistake, who would need to take so many tablets, I hate taking tablets. What do they mean stress is a trigger? Here I sit trying desperately to make sense of what I am reading, fully aware I live with a stress disorder and PSA is triggered by stress!
So now what? “Go home, rest, we will have further results for you at your consultation with the Doctor on the 11th July”; 18 days to find the worst-case scenarios for those with this condition on YouTube, Google and from those damn leaflets. No one ever speaks of the gap in-between being told your diagnosis and the next appointment and yet this is possibly the hardest part of hearing about any health condition. I mean really, 18 whole days until I get answers to the questions buzzing around my head!
The irony is this though, for 18 years I have struggled with my mental health, namely depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder – I was a combat medic in the Army. Not one person has had empathy for me in regard to the condition. Yet finding out about the PSA, something much more tangible, has triggered in people some level of sympathy if not empathy; why is that?
PTSD has stopped me gaining employment I wanted, it’s stopped me going to see friends and family, being in relationships, leaving my home and I have lost my temper with people and institutes. It has disabled me far more than the PSA ever could and yet because you are unable to see it, to feel it, or to understand it, it is ignored and more invisible than ever. That is the real sadness to this situation don’t you think?