Working with psoriatic arthritis: Amy’s story

26 January 2022

Amy, 29, works as a doctor and lives with psoriatic arthritis, here she shares a snapshot of a typical working day and how she finds a work life balance.

Learn more about psoriatic arthritis, including symptoms and treatments.

Starting my day

I give myself time to get ready and get going slowly. I do stretches in bed as I usually wake up feeling stiff in the morning.

I do feel more stiffness in the winter and having a hot shower in the morning helps. I find having baths uncomfortable getting in and out.

Holding a hairdryer can be really difficult and when I wash my hair, I take lots of breaks.

I make sure I give myself enough time to get prepared for the working day and have a coffee.

Then I get my daughter ready and drop her off at nursery on my way to work.

Pacing my work routine

I drive to work, and I enjoy a 10 minute walk from my car to my workplace in the centre of York, especially as I know I will be spending most of my time on my feet.

When I start my appointments for the day, I make sure that I sit down with my patients. Talking on a level makes our consultations more personable, I think.

If I am having a bad day, I will take breaks and sit down between appointments, if I can.

Having a nutritious lunch

I normally fast until 12/1pm and then have my lunch, I have tried lots of different things and fasting works for me.

My day is so busy that there’s not much time at lunchtime. I do make sure I have something tasty and nutritious to keep me well-fuelled.

I’ve cut out sugar but I don’t deprive myself, as life is hard enough!

Taking time for self-care

I typically work until 6pm and head home for dinner.

On a working day, my husband has made tea and bedtime for our daughter, and he’ll often tell me to go and relax on the sofa.

I am careful not to over schedule as I know doing too much can throw me off for the next day and leave me feeling fatigued.

My sleep routine involves going to bed at 10pm and I’m up at 6.45am. I don’t always sleep well as I can feel uncomfortable in bed and I can struggle getting off to sleep. It helps me to sleep on my right side with a pillow between legs and elbows.

What I’ve learnt about myself and my work

In my first year as a doctor, I wanted to make a good impression. I was doing 90-hour weeks, working nights and very long days and my hair started to fall out, I was feeling sick, and my pain was increasing.

I couldn’t bend my fingers properly and this meant I couldn’t do basic things in my job like putting in cannulas.

I didn’t tell anyone, I just kept on going but I was exhausted and would just sleep on my day off. I didn’t want anyone to think that I couldn’t do my job. In the end, I crashed and took time out from the NHS.

I have learnt to be more forthcoming. I work a lot in private practice and if patients notice my arm is in a sling or they see psoriasis, I explain it. I say this is what it is and how it affects me.

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