I am 40 years old and I was diagnosed with Ankylosing Spondylitis in spring of 2017. My symptoms began with multiple attacks of Uveitis, an inflammation in the iris of the eye. My eye doctor sent me to a specialist who tested me for the HLA-B27 gene for which I was positive. He told me about A.S. and told me if I had back or joint issues I needed to talk to my primary care doctor about it. I had experienced a stiff neck for about a year at that point, but had attributed it to after effects of a shoulder injury. I began to have a lot of lower back discomfort and stiffness in 2016. I thought it was just "getting older" so of course I ignored it. The pain and stiffness continued.
In early 2017, my back went out and I was sidelined. Then I began to have pain and swelling in my knee and pain in my hips and sacroiliac constantly. I realized I needed to come clean to my doctor and admit that something wasn't right. I'm one of those people who pushes through and never wants to admit that I'm hurting or having trouble. My primary care doctor was wonderful and sent me immediately for blood work and x-rays. When she called the next day I knew it wasn't a good sign. She told me the bloodwork wasn't back yet, but my x-rays had shown changes consistent with Ankylosing Spondylitis and she was referring me to a rheumatologist. I cried in my car for an hour.
Three weeks later I had my first appointment. My new rheumatologist told me that he knew just from the x-rays and inflammation levels that showed in my bloodwork that I was a textbook case. He explained the disease in depth and informed me of my options. They also referred me to the SAA website and I became a member. SAA helped me find the resources and information to begin my journey! I began treatment with Remicade in July. It has given me my life back. This was a very hard decision to make as I am a diehard natural remedy advocate. I am very proactive with my health now. I do yoga daily and work out at the gym 6 days per week. I juice weekly and eat a healthy vegetarian diet. I own Sassy Fox Upscale Consignment in Louisville, KY. I am lucky enough to have been with my significant other and best friend for 19 years and have raised my beautiful step-daughter since she was 4. This disease is a challenge and I struggle more than I would like to admit. I’m doing a fundraiser and telling my story in hopes that it will raise money and awareness for this disease and hopefully move us closer to finding a cure!"