It’s time to introduce my next guest, the vibrant Miss Aleisha Crabb. I’m delighted to share her story here!
Introduce yourself and tell us a bit about you…
My name is Aleisha & I live in Canberra, Australia. I was born in a country town in New South Wales called Dubbo & my parents moved to Canberra when I was 1 year old.
I am a Nurse, and I work in Drug & Alcohol. My work has given me an amazing insight into human nature, and the complexities surrounding chronic pain, opioid use & addictions. I absolutely love my job & cannot imagine working anywhere better considering my own life experience of chronic pain.
One fascinating fact about me is:
I have a ridiculous good memory for movie/TV show quotes. I remember the most bizarrely un-memorable lines from movies & shows, haha.
Chronic illness(es)/disabilities I have…
- Psoriatic Arthritis (with associated Enthesitis & Bursitis)
- Sleep Apnea
- Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
- Idiopathic Intercranial Hypertension
- Trigeminal Neuralgia
- Generalised Anxiety Disorder
My symptoms/condition began…
I injured my knee in my first year of nursing. That injury seems to have been the catalyst for triggering the onslaught of my Psoriatic Arthritis.
My diagnosis process was…
Tedious. The GP I was seeing when I first injured my knee was what I now know to be quite lazy, and was very disinterested in holistic care.
It took a very long time for him to refer me to a Rheumatologist, but when I eventually was, I was triaged as urgent & was seen in weeks. Some people have had to wait over 12 months to get into them, so for that I am very grateful.
From there I was diagnosed first as Undifferentiated Spondyloarthropathy, and as my symptoms progressed, and more specific symptoms presented, I was eventually diagnosed with Psoriatic Arthritis.
The majority of my other conditions were more easily & quickly diagnosed.
The hardest part of living with my illness/disabilities is…
The fatigue. Pain is something I have learned to manage, but the severely depleted energy levels is not something I have ever been able to successfully become accustomed to.
A typical day for me involves…
- Wake up around 730am.
- Medication and breakfast (if I am feeling up to it, sometimes I am too tired/nauseous).
- Feed the cat. He will look at me forlornly (and disdainfully) if I don’t 😉
- Work is from 9am – 530pm. (I have had my start time adjusted to 9am from 830am so that I am able to manage morning stiffness from my PsA. This gives me an extra 1hour at home due to peak hour traffic!)
- Home for dinner around 6pm. Sometimes I have cooked something, othertimes it is takeaway or a pre-delivered meal service like Lite & Easy.
- Medications around 7pm as one is to prepare for sleep.
- Bed at 9pm after a shower usually. I do a nighttime meditation to help sleep.
The one thing I cannot live without is…
My cat. He is my ever present comfort, amusement & joy throughout the trials & tribulations of chronic illness.
Being ill/disabled has taught me…
To slow down & enjoy life. I am so relaxed about life & what I am able to enjoy now.
My support system is…
My family & close friends. They are essential to my emotional wellbeing 😊
If I had one day symptom/disability-free I would…
Walk up a mountain to have a picnic, visit a remote Indigenous site in Australia that requires lots of walking to access & camp under the stars without my CPAP machine!
One positive of having a chronic illness/disability is…
The people I have connected with as a result 😊 . The connections I have made since becoming chronically ill have become incredibly important and special to me, and I have made some lifelong friends.
Having people in your life who understand the difficulties associated with chronic illnesses and disabilities, can relate to the challenges and frustrations you face every day and truly care about your wellbeing can never be underestimated.
One final thing I want people to know is:
Its OK not to be OK.
The biggest challenge for me has been slowing down & how difficult that has been at times. I was always an active person before I became unwell; always taking on lots of challenges. Now, I have to drastically limit my activities in any given day as overactivity can bring on severe flares. This was a huge change for me & emotionally I was quite overwhelmed & became very anxious.
I want all people to know it is ALWAYS OK to tell others that they need more support if they are finding the emotional toll of their chronic illness/disabilities too hard to manage on their own.