A.S. Face 0176: Keith Savage
My name is Keith Savage, 32 years old from Hawthorne, NJ. I’ve been married to my best friend Kim, for over 10 years & we have 3 beautiful kids together; Trevor (9), Kailyn (7) & Charlotte (2).
I have been extremely hesitant to write about my story because I have no desire to relive or dig too deep into how I feel. I know it may sound odd but my day consists of hiding & or suppressing my feelings with laughter so I do not have to face my fears or worries. I’m a comedian, not an actual paid stand up comic, but I love to make people laugh. Like my first picture where I’m dressed like a fool (Cousin Eddie from Christmas Vacation) to make as many people laugh at a party as possible. That is my escape, my distraction to what our reality of having AS gives us everyday.
I was diagnosed back in 2007 with symptoms dating back to at least 2000. It started with horrific pain in my heels, it felt like I was standing on rail road ties all day long. Then my hips and spine & so on & so forth. Thing is I’m no stranger to AS & the horrible effects it has to not only the diagnosed but our families as well. If you look at my second picture it’s my father Kevin & myself. He came home from work (delivering propane tanks) on my 5th Birthday & never worked again.
My father eventually had his spine fuse solid & endured excruciating pain everyday of his life until 1/25/09. That was my wife Kim’s birthday & also the day my father was no longer in pain. He died from cancer unexpectedly & only 3 days after being diagnosed. He was & still is my hero. To grow up seeing someone you love, admire, & try you’re hardest to emulate deal with so much pain everyday was so hard. I knew how hard it was on my mother, taking care of my dad everyday & myself & older brother while providing for the family.
When I first felt the pain in my heels & back I was afraid to go to the doctor. In the back of my mind I had always feared that I would end up with AS. My fears were correct & I found myself in a whole new world. I was crushed by the diagnosis but determined to not let it slow me down. I succeeded for 4 years until March of 2011. It was all too much on me & my family. I stopped working & have been on disability since.
I’ve tried the entire range of medications & combo of medications that the medical world has to offer us. Nothing. Not one drug or combination of drug has worked. My spine is fusing so quickly that every doctor I have been too agrees that it is too late to stop or even slow the process. As of now my lower spine is fused, my neck is beginning to fuse & my middle back has 4-5 discs remaining that are 90% eroded. So now I see my rheumatologist every 2 1/2 to 4 weeks in order to get injections as close as possible to my lower spine & neck to try & numb the area & make the fusing less painful. It has it’s advantages & at this point I just feel like a pincushion but it does yield some relief.
See picture #4 from my last visit. So with all of this said I know my progression is much more aggressive & rapid then most. I have fusion beginning in my extremities as well but not at the same rate as my spine. 3 weeks ago I ruptured tendons in my wrist due to the meds & AS destroying all connective tissues as well. So at this point the only way to live is day by day.
My wife & best friend Kim deserves the biggest, best, award a person can get. Most days, 5-6 a week, Kim has to help get me out of bed, in & out of the bathroom, & get dressed. Essentially she has 4 people to take care of on her own between myself & our 3 kids. I can’t explain what she means to me, she does all of this without any hesitation at all & I couldn’t imagine being in her shoes. In a way to me this disease is harder on her than me. I just sit back & deal with pain, she is constantly going from early morning to late night without any time to herself.
Thank you just doesn’t say enough. So I keep on rocking everyday due to my wife & 3 kids. (picture #3) I’m not sure what the future holds but what I do know is because of the support system I have at home with my wife as my biggest supporter & the online support system I have from Jennifer, Kelly, & Cookie I have so many great resources & friends. Words can’t express how thankful I am to have everyone on my side. Laughter is how I get by, is so much easier to laugh with others than cry alone. Keith Savage=
Hawthorne New Jersey United States of America