I was first diagnosed with A.S. in 2010. I had suffered from several inflammatory conditions for years. I had costochondritis, sciatica, plantar fasciitis, recurrent aseptic meningitis (seven times), erythema nodosum and pain and inflammation in just about every single joint. I had been treated by a host of doctors including a dermatologist and two neurologists. They all kept testing me for Lupus when finally my primary care doctor suggested that I should have a consultation with a rheumatologist.
It took 10 years of suffering from the pain and inflammation along with multiple doses of various pain medications before I was finally diagnosed. I didn’t believe it at first, since I thought that Ankylosing Spondylitis was a man’s disease. The HLA-B27 genetic test along with my well documented medical history confirmed that indeed I had A.S. I was started immediately on sulfasalazine. This continued for almost a year with no relief. The constant stiffness and pain coupled with another episode of meningitis (which left me with central vertigo) ultimately forced me out of patient care as an Operating Room RN. I was devastated!
I went to another rheumatologist for a second opinion. She suggested a pain clinic and gave me doses of narcotics which didn’t even mask the pain. I didn’t agree that a pain clinic was the right thing to do. I did some serious research about A.S. and found out that many of my conditions were related to A.S. I then found about the TNF inhibitors. It was then that I decided to return to my original rheumatologist to see if the TNFs were an option for me. She agreed that I should try a TNF and see. Within 3 weeks, I saw a noticeable difference. I finally have a diagnosis and an action plan for managing this disease. While I still suffer from pain and stiffness, I am able to function more. I looked for other jobs that I could do and still be a nurse. I am now able to work as a nurse in non-patient care setting, manage my disease and participate in community activities. I am constantly looking for ways to aid in research and treatment options for this life-changing condition.
Missy Barkman, RN, BSN
Michigan United States of America
“Life has no rewind but it is being recorded. Live it right!”