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Alicia Anderson: I’ve always

been very active.

I used to do

backpacking, running, biking.

I ran duathlons.

15,000 steps a day was my norm.

I like hiking and camping,

personally, because I live

in the city.

And I’m a country girl at heart.

In the woods,

it feels like everything that

is the day-to-day

can just kind of float away.

The day that I had my first real

psoriatic arthritis flare,

I was getting up to go to work.

I couldn’t grip my pants well

enough to pull them up.

I couldn’t get dressed.

I couldn’t move

enough to actually go anywhere.

The arthritis pain isn’t

like muscle soreness.

It’s kind of a combination

of an ache that’s turned up

to 11 and sometimes stabbing

to describe the effects

of psoriatic arthritis

Aching is too small.

Fatigue is too small.

It hurts way more than that.

I went down from 15,000 steps

a day to 10 steps a day.

It was absolutely devastating.

like I’m giving up pieces

of myself that there are things

that I can never reclaim because

of this illness.

The fatigue is harder to push

through than the pain.

It feels like there is no way

to get a full charge.

It was a revelation to discover

Christine Miserandino’s website

about the spoon theory.

She has lupus and was trying

of her autoimmune disorder.

It’s super helpful for me,

because it’s the idea

of budgeting energy.

Let’s say I start the day

with 12 spoons.

I get dressed.

That’s two spoons gone.

So and now I’m down to 10.

Working might be two spoons.

Walking the dog is easily four

Sweeping the floor is a spoon.

Cooking is two spoons if you’re

doing any sort of prep

because you’re using

your wrists.

By the end of the day,

you’ve got to make a decision

about whether to spend

the rest of that energy or bank

it for the next day.

Generally only a full night’s

sleep will give you kind

of a reboot the next day.

My old life, I had 20 to 30

spoons in a day.

And now, I’m lucky if I have 10.

online alternative therapies.

And acupuncture seemed to always

be at the top of the list.

I know it’s not for everyone.

But for me, it was

a massive improvement.

I do dietary changes, yoga,

sleep a lot, like 12 hours

a night.

I try to get sunshine.

I try to get exercise when I

And I take it easy on myself.


My husband has been super

supportive and always trying

to think of ways to make my life

He wanted me to feel like I

could take a shower

and enjoy it again.

So he purchased this stool

for the shower.

For some reason, that stool felt

like a symbol of my disability.

It felt like I was giving up.

Assistive devices like that

are all over my house now.

Some of them were easier

The stool was really hard.

I really fought the cane

as well.

My husband — he gets a lot

of ideas about how to make me

not resent the cane.

I have one cane that has a sword

in it.

[SIGHS] And we were actually

in a shop.

And they had trekking poles,

like hiking poles.

Having a trekking pole instead

of a cane

does make me a little bit less

stubborn about it.

It’s still a cane.

But the canes helped me hike.

The canes help me get outside.

It’s absolutely helped me get

and stay more mobile.

Having something as

when you’re taking a shower

between going to the movies

or not and having a life.

More than anything,

that the overachiever kind

of person that I was

wasn’t the healthiest way to go.

Easy way isn’t always

the wrong way.

The disease itself– it forces

You’ve got to let go

I’ve hiked 256 miles

of the Appalachian Trail

with a 40-pound pack on my back.

I have to let that go.

I still can get that feeling

of wellness and well-being

in the woods.

It’s just a much shorter trip

than it used to be.