My name is Jenn. I am a 39 year old (currently unemployed) single mother of my 5 yr old son Hunter. After suffering low back pain and hip pain since 2006, I was diagnosed in January of 2009 through the Rheumatologist my Mom goes to (she also has AS -diagnosed 1995). She has both hips and knees replaced and has lots of trouble with her eyes and lungs due to AS. I am hoping that since I was diagnosed at a much younger age, I can possibly avoid so many problems. At first the doc didn’t think I had AS, but after blood tests (I am HLA-B27 positive) and full body scan showing lots of inflammation in my lumbar back and pelvis, I was able to get diagnosed and start Enbrel in February of 2009. So my therapy is Lexapro 20mg daily and Enbrel 50 mg once a week. I also go to aqua therapy at a local rehab center and it does help with my pain and stiffness. BUT I still have lots of pain in my neck, right shoulder (injury in 2006 from carrying too much baby stuff) lower back, both hips, knees and feet. I am hoping working out in the pool will help me get some strength back and maybe lessen the pain. I tend to have flare ups when the stress in my life is high, so I am trying very hard to keep it minimal.
The Rheum. and my family doc think my symptoms were triggered by my son’s birth in 2006, after which I had lots of pain in my feet, knees, hips, lower back, neck and shoulders that never went away. My labor with my son was very long (39 hrs) with severe pain in my lumbar spine and pelvis. He was stuck in the birth canal and I had an emergency c-section. One month after my son was born, I had my gallbladder removed due to losing 30 lbs. in a month which caused it to become very inflamed. I descended into post-partum depression that was not treated until 2009 due to an unsupportive, verbally & mentally abusive husband who I divorced in May 2009.
My son, who has high functioning Autism is my greatest joy and my greatest challenge. Hunter tantrums a lot and has lots of trouble with his father. He does NOT like his father at all. He is only 5 and already tells me “Daddy is mean all the time, I don’t like him, I want him to be lost.” It breaks my heart to have to force him to go with him 2 evenings a week and every other weekend. Having so much stress in my life does not help with my AS at all.
I am also trying very hard to find a job (I worked as an Administrative Assistant in both a Medical and Aviation setting). I have been unemployed since January 2009. My benefits run out this January and I am getting scared! If the economy does not pick up soon, I don’t know how I will be able to make ends meet. I am very thankful that my son and I am living with my parents, otherwise. They took us in and are my god-send. My son and I are a team and we help each other cheer up on difficult days with tickles and sillyness and building stuff with lots of legos! I hope you all have enjoyed hearing my story. Gentle Hugs to all! – Jenn Farrell
Connecticut, United States Of America