"...But you don't look sick..."
Since the disease I have is one of those invisible ones, I hear this A LOT. I don't necessarily want to whip out bloodwork results like some type of achievement badge. At the same time, there are some outward displays that my body isn't "normal."
Psoriatic Arthritis is the internal, and sometimes external, inflammation that happens when my immune system hones in on healthy tissue and attacks it like it's the enemy. When I first started feeling the signs, my big toe on my right foot was extremely inflamed and painful. These two photos were taken July 21, 2013 when I began documenting my signs and symptoms, back when the doctors I saw thought I was making this up. (No kidding, 3 different doctors told me nothing was wrong.)
In time, my immune system decided my big toe was no longer a threat, and it went back down to normal size with minimal pain. However, my left foot has been the target for nearly 3 years now. While the inflammation has gone down, damage is done, so I have a "piggy who stayed home" that is permanently crooked and stiff.
This picture shows my left foot as of today, August 8, 2021, eight years later.
Compare the two left-foot photos. There is a noticeable difference, and it's not just in tan lines! Haha!! Now, here is the fun part of this whole little story.
When I had a pedicure and my toe nails were painted purple, they were all painted at the same time. None of the polish has chipped off. Let's look at that second toe one more time, with more light.
Do you see it? The toenail on that second toe has grown significantly faster than the rest of my toenails. While that may not be obvious without me pointing it out, I want to share this because that is actually evidence that the cells in that clearly-targeted toe are being killed off while my immune system is rapidly shooting extra "healthy" cells and antibodies to that specific toe while that toe's regular cells are regenerating. The result? On my one toe, this toenail is growing out of control, and it's not the same consistency/hardness/smoothness as the other nine toenails I have.
This is the exact process that happens to my skin when I have psoriasis plaques. More importantly, this is what psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis does to connective tissue and healthy organs inside my body where nobody can see it.
Just because I don't appear to be sick doesn't mean that my C-Reactive protein level is within normal range. Just because it's not obvious until I blow up a photo of something like that one wacky toenail doesn't mean I'm not immunocompromised. And I know I'm not alone.
Do you have Psoriatic Arthritis? Have you seen strange things like this happening on your body? Comment below and give me your "PSA: I have PsA" experiences!