Alright. Where should I start? My name is Jennifer Krueger. I’m 21 years old (although I’ve been told I look 16 haha). I’m a junior in college and hoping to go off to graduate school in Chicago for Clinical Psychology. I love animals (especially my wonderful dogs and cat), music, drawing, painting, movies, and of course psychology. I have a wonderful family,
who are very supportive, although a little too worried about me at moments :). Most of all, though, I was officially diagnosed with Ankylosing Spondylitis last year (I diagnosed myself three years ago, but we’ll get into that).
I started having symptoms at age 15. I was pretty big into ballet, and I injured my left SI joint during a rehearsal for an upcoming performance. I went to physical therapy, but nothing seemed to really help. So, from that point I basically lived with the pain for a while, until around age 17 I really started to realize that crawling around on the floor because your back hurts so bad isn’t normal (and neither is an elbow that won’t straighten because of inflammation). So! Doctor time. First doctor told me I was faking. Nothing was wrong. Next doctor put an air cast on my elbow; I cried for two weeks straight because it hurt so badly. Next doctor told me to get a membership at Gold’s Gym; I was just weak, not enough muscle, but because my mom and I were so “annoying” he decided to do a blood test. Oh guess what!? It came back abnormal, so I was sent to a rheumatologist.
I thought this rheumatologist was a God send. (Key word here is THOUGHT) He believed me! He did a full physical, I had hardly any movement in my SI joints, my elbow clearly did not straighten, and my knees were sore; basically every body part had something wrong. He diagnosed me with Undifferentiated Spondyloarthropathy and fibromyalgia. I was pretty pumped that something was so wrong with me that I could get a diagnosis. I had x-rays done, an MRI done, everything he could think of, but all of the tests came back normal. I started on medication, and this is where my two year ride started with the doctor sent straight, I swear, from the Devil himself. He started to not listen, never did x-rays again since that first visit, only gave me 15 minutes of his time per appointment, would literally walk out of the room as my parents and I were asking him questions; he basically didn’t care after he figured out what he thought was wrong with me. I think the tipping point for me was when he told me to get a job as a waitress, because his daughter, apparently, really enjoys it. Did he not get the memo that I couldn’t stand for more than 15 minutes at a time???? Then, we asked to have a referral to UW Madison for a second opinion. Holymoly, he slammed his papers down on the desk, told me to not believe a word this doctor says, and to come back with a full report of what happened. (fyi Inever saw him again)
I now see an amazing doctor in UW Madison, who gives me an appointment that lasts at least 40 minutes, answers all of my questions, is one of the smartest people, most likely, in the world and actually did x-rays! I was diagnosed with Ankylosing Spondylitis by her, on the first visit, after she looked at my x-rays, and saw that I have significant damage to my SI joints and bone spurs throughout my spine. I thank God every day for this woman and her intern, they are truly amazing. I’ve gone to physical therapy since the beginning of the year (but that’s not continuing because of insurance blah blah blah), so now I’m working on yoga :) and hopefully getting into a water aerobics class soon. I’m on methotrexate, gabapentin (for sleeping), tramadol, piroxicam (seems to be the only one that keeps the elbow working), cymbalta (not for depression, just for muscle pain ), folic acid of course, and every 8 weeks I go to the hospital for Remicade. Hopefully by my next appointment, she’ll take me off some more medicine, but for now I’m a happy camper.
I am truly thankful for my doctor, family, friends, physical therapist, and pharmacists who are so supportive!
Wisconsin, United States of America