Health Stories

My hands were like claws

Nicole’s painful condition hasn’t stopped her kicking goals

Here Nicole Jackson, 50, tells the story in her own words. 

It was like something out of a horror movie.

Aged 16, my hands had suddenly curled into a claw and frozen.

What the hell? I thought, trying to move them, but they were too stiff. Then my feet curled up too.

After a minute it would pass, but it kept happening.

My mum Tina took me for tests.

‘You have the bones of a 70-year-old,’ my GP said.

Great, I thought glumly.

I had psoriatic arthritis, which causes joints to become stiff and swollen. It was related to the psoriasis I’d been diagnosed with at five.

The red scaly patches all over my body looked like burns.

So itchy, I’d scratch them till they bled and then be bandaged up like a mummy. My hands often hung by my sides like decorations.

My grip was so weak 
I couldn’t hold a coffee cup without it smashing onto the floor.

If I chop a veg I’ll probably lose a finger, 
I thought, looking at my cramped hands. Put on medication, it made me lethargic and I gained weight.

And it caused me problems when I had my daughter at 23. As I was being prepped for a C-section, I passed out.

As I came round two hours later, Mum had some news for me.

‘You died!’ she exclaimed, shocked.

My daughter, Donna, was fine, but the combination of my meds and an epidural had caused me to go into cardiac arrest.

I could see the hand marks from where the surgeon had done CPR.

When I was 45, my feet clawed and I fell while I was on a bus, so I started to use a walking stick.

Then, soon after, 
a battle with cervical cancer and depression left me out of work for two years.

By now I was divorced, but my new partner Darren, 49, was very supportive.

Ready to work again, I found WISE Employment – an agency for those with disabilities. Finding a cleaning job at Fitness District Gym in Bankstown, I was thrilled.

Within a year I’d been promoted to receptionist and then gym manager.

And I started a healthy diet and exercise regime.

Recently I was put on a new fortnightly injection and my hands and feet no longer claw.

‘It’s like magic!’ I said to Darren.

And I’m so grateful to WISE Employment.

They didn’t just find me a job I love – they gave me a whole new life.

Psoriatic arthritis

  • Up to 20 per cent of people with psoriasis will develop this condition.
  • It causes inflammation of the joints, making them painful, stiff and swollen.
  • The exact cause is unknown, but genetics, the immune system and environmental factors such as an infection may play roles.

Visit wiseemployment.com.au or free call 
WISE Employment on 1800 685 105

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