My name is Chris Torrie. I’m a 45-year-old man living in the Houston, Texas area, and I’ve been in pain much of my life. I was a soccer goalie who played on competitive regional teams and the Colorado State team. I also played other sports. Because I was a goalie, I got injured. There were times when I was in pain and I didn’t remember what caused it. My mother didn’t believe I was in pain much of the time and would get mad at me for trying to get attention.
I joined the United States Army in 1992 after graduating high school. My knee was in so much pain that I had difficulties in basic training. I spent much of the training on crutches because of swelling and pain that prevented me from walking. Ironically, it was my drill sergeant team who believed I was really in pain, and not the doctors. I was discharged in 1993, but they refused to give me a medical discharge.
I’ve spent many years talking to my doctors about severe lower back pain, knee pain, Achilles tendon pain, and shoulder pain. I had two surgeries on my right knee to try to relieve my pain. Surgeons removed the cartilage from my kneecap that was scraping my knee. My knee continued to hurt and my back got progressively worse. My Achilles tendon was so bad that I was in a walking boot for about four months. My doctors dismissed my symptoms, and my primary care physician said I have a fibromyalgia-like condition, but that was it. I continued on with pain thinking my diagnosis, if anything, was only partially correct.
In 2017, my left hand started to hurt so badly that I couldn’t function — mainly because I’m left handed. My primary care physician did my bloodwork and sent me for X-rays. My bloodwork came back negative for the typical rheumatoid arthritis (RA) markers, and the doctor told me I didn’t have RA. Thankfully he sent me to get an MRI. It showed joint effusions and joint erosion; the radiologist suggested investigating for inflammatory arthritis. I decided to go to a rheumatologist.
Seeing a rheumatologist was the best decision I had made in a long time. I brought my bloodwork, four different MRIs that showed joint effusions, and anything else I could think of. Her examination and review of my records led her to a seronegative rheumatoid arthritis diagnosis. This is when I began to wish more primary care doctors knew that inflammatory arthritis is not diagnosed by bloodwork alone.
Over time, my rheumatologist said that my arthritis is behaving more like psoriatic arthritis (PsA). I have more pain in larger joints, and I feel like I always have tendonitis. As far as I know, I do not have psoriasis. I have some minor pitting on my nails and itching in my ears. None of them have been confirmed as psoriasis. To my knowledge, no one in my family has psoriasis. Because of the unknowns, my rheumatologist keeps both diagnoses active because there is a chance I could have both.
Upon my diagnosis, I became active on two different support sites: MyPsoriasisTeam and myRAteam. I believe that we humans want to fit in — we need a tribe. I’ve been searching for mine, but I don’t know which it is. I feel like PsA is my right fit, but I have found that the sites for psoriasis and PsA mostly focus on psoriasis. I understand this is because of the impacts of having a skin disease. Because of this, I spend more time on the RA sites because of the focus on the joint disease, but I don’t feel like I really fit there, either. Maybe if I had a definitive diagnosis (one, the other, or both), it would help me find my place.
At the end of the day, I’m thankful that I know I have an inflammatory arthritis diagnosis so I can get the proper treatment I need to remain functional. I’m on Otrexup (methotrexate) and Orencia (abatacept) infusions. In addition, I’m on Lyrica (pregabalin) and muscle relaxers with the occasional dose of prednisone when I’m struggling. I have a love/hate relationship with prednisone, so I try not to take it. I’ve tried Sulfasalazine, Remicade (infliximab), and Enbrel (etanercept) with no luck. I’m hopeful that Orencia will finally do the trick. I’m not hopeful for a cure, just relief.
I’m still trying to find my tribe, but what I really need is some relief from the pain and destruction. Meanwhile, I’ll hang out at both sites for support and to help others.
This article was written by MyPsoriasisTeam member Chris as part of the My Perspective series. Chris is married and works full-time.
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