Psoriatic arthritis has created plenty of challenges for Richard Kandalec, but the 65-year-old has found ways to continue the outdoors activities he loves.
Kandalec was diagnosed with psoriasis in his early 30s. Embarrassed by the red, flaky skin patches, the Mentor, Ohio, resident often wore long sleeves, even in the summer and in the woodworking, welding and industrial arts classes he taught – which was risky because his clothes could catch on the machines.
When Kandalec learned a few years later that he also had psoriatic arthritis, he says, “It was tough.”
He tried numerous medications before finding one that worked. Still, he’s had to have joint surgery in both thumbs, several fingers and toes, and fusion surgery in his wrist.
He manages his PsA with medications and, on the advice of his health care team, he cut out gluten due to an allergy and takes supplements containing turmeric, which has anti-inflammatory properties. And he gets creative to keep doing what he loves.
A drummer, he uses Gig Grip bands to hold his drumsticks, and although he had to give up mountain biking, in 2014 he logged more than 1,600 miles on his three-wheeled recumbent cycle. Kandalec also works for a local park system, giving lessons in snowshoeing and cross-country skiing.
“I have to be aware of my limitations, but I have adapted fairly well,” he says. “I found the recumbent bicycle and I found a way to play the drums. I am happy.”