August is National Psoriasis Awareness Month. To bring awareness to the illness and injection challenges, we spoke with Grace Vasher and learned about her personal journey with Psoriasis. Grace is a nineteen year old college student studying elementary education. 

 

“Psoriasis is something I have experienced from a very young age. I was officially diagnosed with Psoriasis when I was ten years old. Around the age of twelve I started to show symptoms of Psoriatic Arthritis. My doctors told me that I was too young and arthritis did not present itself in the joints where I was experiencing pain. The pain ebbed and flowed until I was sixteen, when things took a turn for the worse. I started to experience intense lower back pain that nobody could explain. I went to doctors, physical therapists, and even chiropractors who all blamed the pain on me accidentally “injuring myself”. Finally, a few weeks before I turned seventeen, I was able to see a rheumatologist where I was diagnosed with Psoriatic Arthritis. Right after I was diagnosed, I started to take a biologic medication that immensely helped alleviate my symptoms. 

 

Taking injections was probably the hardest part about being diagnosed. It spawned so many conflicting feelings. I had always been scared of needles and shots, but now, I needed to administer a shot weekly to be able to walk. After a while, my fear of needles lessened, but it was still mentally taxing to give myself an injection every single week. Fast forward about two years, during my freshman year of college, I got very ill with mononucleosis and multiple infections. At this time I was instructed by my rheumatologist to stop taking my biologic. After I had fully recovered, I changed to a biologic medication not available in an autoinjector format. I was alone at college and had to teach myself how to insert a shot by myself. I was terrified. I remember walking into my dorm room and instantly starting to cry out of fear of this needle and having to administer it myself. I was genuinely so scared. I thought, is it going to hurt more? What if I do it wrong? Where do I put the needle when I’m done? What do I do if I mess up? So many questions ran through my brain. Even after injecting a few times, it did not get easier. 

 

Throughout my journey with medications, taking injections has always complicated things. Traveling was now stressful because I had to carry around ice packs and coolers and cross my fingers that my medicine did not overheat. In high school, I had to get special clearance for school trips because I had to carry medicine that had a needle. Storing my medication at college has always been difficult. I constantly worry about my medication being tampered with or having needles in shared spaces where somebody could accidentally hurt themselves.

 

Digital health to help me with my Psoriasis is something that sounds extremely appealing and helpful to me. I have always had a hard time remembering to take my medications and have often relied on apps and phone reminders to help, but sometimes it gets lost in the clutter of my phone. Having something that stood out from other reminders on my phone to remind me of my medication would help me to more consistently remember when to take my medication. I also think having a place to easily track my symptoms would help me better manage my flares and learn how to take care of myself better during bad health days. I think that today there is so much potential for technology and our phones to help us if we are just able to utilize it and apply it to our individual lives.”