This past Tuesday, early in the morning, I had my first of probably many rheumatologist appointments. This has been a long time coming. After two years of appointments with my general practitioner, and a solid three months of waiting for a rheumatologist in a driving range to get to my referral, I finally got in.

I hoped for an answer. An answer to the mysterious pain that has slowly been getting worse over the past 4 or so years. My joints hurt. My bones hurt. The muscles lacing them to each other hurt. There are other symptoms too, and sometimes those side effects are worse. My skin itches. I find myself dizzy. And, most debilitatingly, the fatigue. I count myself lucky. This is usually manageable to a functional extent. I can still attend my day job. They are so kind. If I’m having a particularly rough day, I have the most understanding coworkers.

There are bad days. Usually 1–2 days a week, it’s hard to even leave my bed. I trudge around the house like a nursing home patient. Feeling like I’ve been tossed down a flight of stairs. If I run any errands at all, I spend them pining for some sort of mobility aid. I’m lucky, though. Many with a chronic illness have it so much worse.

I had hoped for an answer, but I was also realistic. I’ve grown used to being a lab rat, so I knew I probably would continue on that path. I wasn’t wrong.

After some questions, and poking, and prodding, the doctor told me that he suspects I have psoriatic arthritis. He wrote that down as my diagnosis, prescribed me a pill that I have to take two of, twice a day, and about a dozen blood tests through the next two months.

Psoriatic arthritis is a possibly debilitating chronic autoimmune disease. Your immune system is overreactive. It produces too much to fight… your body? As it progresses it causes pain, loss of sleep, joint and neurological pain, tenderness, and lots of fatigue. If it isn’t caught in a timely manner, it can also degenerate your joints, leading to disfigurement. A horrifying possibility as someone who is an artist, and leads an active love of nature.

I don’t know if I believe this is it. Or at least, I’m not convinced it is the only thing. All of the known symptoms of this chronic disease only cover about half of my symptoms. So either this isn’t it, and it is fibromyalgia, or I’m one unlucky son of a gun and have both this AND fibromyalgia.

Regardless, I have to go through the hoops. I have to take months worth of this new medication. I have to adhere to the blood draws and appointments. With fibromyalgia there is no diagnostic test, only the elimination of other diseases. My only way to get my answer set in stone is to be a lab rat.

The sun is out, though, if it indeed is psoriatic arthritis, consistent medication can halt its growth. I can rest at ease that my condition was brought to attention before it destroyed my joints beyond repair. Sometimes, joint use even improves with the medication.

If it is successful. If it is even this.

In the meantime, I continue to work through my pain. I try extremely hard to remain transparent to everyone that is in line for art from me. I approach inquiries about my queue with patience. If you’re there and unhappy with the speed that I reach your piece, I completely understand and am willing to waive my refund policies in your favor. But otherwise, I will absolutely get to your piece and pour my whole heart into it.

Thank you.

-Kuna

    Messages from the Forest

    Written by

    Freelance Illustration, Beekeeping, Photography, Ecology, Food, and more!