Hello my fellow ASers, My name is Bobby Barron and I was diagnosed with AS about 5 years ago, but I’ve probably had it for almost 25 years. For you to understand that, I need to go back a few years. I was a normal teen that played sports in high school. I never had any health problems to speak of. After high school, I moved away from home to start my life. I was living in Graham, Texas and was tired of working in a job that was taking me nowhere I decided to join the U.S. Army at age 19. I made it through basic training with no problems. I made the road marches and obstacle courses. It was during my individual training that I started having hip problems. It took the Army about six weeks to say that I had stress fractures in my right hip and both knees. I eventually ended up at Fort Benning, Georgia. I survived about a year there, but my hips and knees problems eventually led to my discharge from the Army. I started seeing doctors at the VA and this would continue for almost twenty years. They never really determined what was wrong with my knees and hips and just gave me medicine for pain. Flash forward to 2001, my hip and knee problems finally forced me to seek a job change from being an electrician with my father. Since I was considered a service connected veteran, I decided to see if the VA would send me to college and let me become an elementary school teacher. They agreed and eventually I graduated college with a Bachelors of Sciences degree and I eventually became employed as a 5th grade science teacher. It was during the spring semester of my first year that I went in for a normal check up. I had lost a lot of weight, but just chalked it up to stress of being a first year teacher. The PA I saw at my local VA noticed something wrong with my blood count. She wasn’t sure what was wrong with me but assured me that we would determine what was happening with me. After over three months of test, she finally sent me to a rheumatologist and hematologist. As soon as my wife and I walked in, he told us that I had Ankylosing Spondylitis. We both asked what was that since we had never heard of AS. He said that he needed to run a blood test to confirm it, but he was 90 percent sure that’s what it was from looking at my x-rays. He put me on medications to help with it and we left for home to find out about AS. I’m very fortunate to have a great doctor and he has really helped me with this disease. I am fortunate to have VA taking care of all my medications that I take. I take weekly Humira injections and numerous other medications. The only thing I regret about having AS is that I have passed it on to my daughter. Hopefully they will find a cure or better ways to treat her. I went twenty years before finding out, but since I had AS they were quick to diagnose her. I love that we have groups like SAA and others to spread the word about AS so that others can come to understand AS and its effects on our bodies. My wife and family went to a SAA seminar in Dallas a few years back and my wife says that it helped her understand what was happening to me. I am also glad that I have met others from all around the world who have AS and that we are becoming united in spreading the word so that others come to know about AS as well.
Seagraves, Texas United States of America