A.S. Face 0572: Jessica Leblanc
Hi, my name is Jessica LeBlanc, I am a wife, and a mother of two amazing children and I am living with an autoimmune disorder called Ankylosing Spondylitis. I always knew growing up there was something different about me, family thought I was lazy, a hypochondriac, trying to get attention, trying to get out of housework…but I knew different. My immune system was attacking my body and we had no idea!
My mother believed me however, thank God, despite all her efforts to see what was wrong with me at age 4 and up, the Drs kept telling her it was growing pains. WE knew it was more; I was 4 years old and couldn’t walk sometimes because the pain was so unbearable, and my mother had to carry me to the hospital over and over again. She spent nights upon nights rubbing my legs. Well it continued on as I got older, when I was about 11, it started in my ankles as well, then as I got older it got in more areas, By the time I was in High School, I had problems with my feet, my knees, my ankles, my hips , my wrists, and my back. Yet they still found nothing wrong except for scoliosis (a curvature of the spine)…finally years later, when I was in a car accident and got pretty injured, I was finally taken seriously…I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia, I was put on a course of different medications, anti-inflammatory, Tylenol 3, the list goes on…then when I was about 30 they started to slowly diagnose me with other issues, but I knew it wasn’t right… I had depression, migraines, osteoarthritis, psoriasis, degenerative disk disease, fibromyalgia, Irritable bowel disorder, small node neuropathy, and a few other things, to many to list..LOL.. Finally I got my answer…I was diagnosed with Ankylosing Spondylitis at age 32 I believe. Then I started enbrel and many many other meds…it worked amazing at first..Then it started to wear off…then I started remicade with another regiment of medications ((I won’t list them all, there are sooo many, that it will take too long to list, he he)) Then WOW….I was in heaven..I could walk and do things with my children..I felt almost normal again, then things got bad again, turns out I had lots of damage in my SI joints due to not being diagnosed early enough, I walked with a cane for almost a year…now I get SI joint injections every 3 months…which helps alot and haven’t needed my cane for about 6 months now, but still have alot of bad days so it’s still a pretty rough road ahead for me. There is hope if you catch it early enough; this is why I felt I had to get my story out there. If you feel there is something wrong, stick to your guns and go with your gut, go to a rheumatologist ASAP….it can help prevent alot of damage, and then you may not be in the same situation as some of us with A.S.
I am currently on disability and have a hard time doing my daily chores, I can’t do the normal things that most moms do with their children. I still get alot of people telling me that I’m lazy and that it is all mind over matter, that it’s all in my head etc. I feel that if I was properly diagnosed at an early age, I would be able to have a strong career and be able to be the parent & wife I always dreamed I would be, instead of always sitting on a heating pad and popping pills, counting down the day to my next remicade infusion, and S.I Joint Injections. My life isn’t all horrible though, there is alot of pain and more investigating to be done, they now think I have Crohne’s disease, which scares me a lot L but I will get through it if I do because, I have alot of support through my family and friends and honestly if it wasn’t for them I wouldn’t be the person I am today. I also get amazing support from my online family that also deal with A.S., they have taught me that even though I have A.S, life still goes on. So after years of hating my life, I now embrace it and realize that god doesn’t give things to people unless they can handle it, and now I choose to try to help others that have any type of struggle in life, whether it be a disability or struggle within themselves, so now I look at this as a gift, can you help us get the word out EARLY DIAGNOSIS IS THE KEY
Thank you for reading my story,
New Brunswick, Canada