Jesse Lichtenstein calls Portland, Oregon, home. The 42-year-old studied psychology at the University of Oregon and did one year in law at Golden Gate University in San Francisco before becoming a fulltime writer, producer, and director. He might be best known for his role as a writer and producer on No Greater Law, an Emmy-nominated film that premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2018.
These days, when Lichtenstein is not poking at a keyboard or working on a shoot, you can likely find him on the streets and trails around Portland as he prepares for an ultramarathon running race in Utah at the end of May. What you cannot see when you look at Lichtenstein, however, is the psoriatic arthritis (PsA) diagnosis that stokes his fire.
The Medical Term: ‘It Sucks’
Like far too many others, Lichtenstein’s journey to discovering his PsA and finding an effective treatment was a long and winding road with several wrong turns. He was first told that the pain in his hand was from an injury – though he could not recall any trauma or overuse. He was then told that his orthopedic injury needed surgery. Eager to get back to a pain-free life, Lichtenstein went along with the diagnosis, only to feel the problem worsen despite multiple operations.
Finally, a friend who works in health care steered him in the right direction, and Lichtenstein was diagnosed with PsA in 2020.
“The diagnosis thing was so hard to describe if you don’t have the experience of it,” says Lichtenstein. “Especially going from this perception of it being an orthopedic injury and having multiple surgeries, to then the truth of it being that it’s this disease. That was really disturbing – kind of scary – and worse in a lot of ways. When you realize that it’s your own body’s dysfunctional immune system signaling, and your body is doing it to yourself, it’s not a good feeling.”