My name is Paula Geerinck, I am Irish, 48 years old and live in the Republic of Ireland. I have just joined your page, Faces of Ankylosing Spondilitis. I was diagnosed in September of 2010 after a long time chasing this disease. I was with three different Rheumatologists, I had pain, stiffness, fatigue and depression, I was pumped with all kinds of different pills, methotrexate, steroids, and nothing worked. I suffered on for the best part of 3 years, (I was also assumed to be a hypochondriac) until I found the right consultant rheumatologist who diagnosed me after two visits.. it was actually a relief to know I wasn’t imagining the aches and pains and all the rest that goes with it. I am HLAB27 Positive, there is a history of arthritis in my family, my sister has Scoiratic arthritis. I spent 10 weeks from May to August 2011 in a Psychiatric Unit for stress, anxiety and depression which is part and parcel of this disease. A lot of people look at me and say oh you look so well but my answer to that always is you can’t judge a book by the cover. They don’t realise how debilitating AS is. I also have degenerative disc disorder. My Rheumatologist has put me on Enbrel and it has greatly improved my life, I am currently keeping active but find that now even with swimming, non weight-bearing as advised, the stiffness and pains have come back. I discussed this with my consultant also in December who gave me a steroid injection, as with the holiday season he didn’t want to put me on new drug, but it seems when I see him next month that is the way I’m going to have to go. I would also like to add to this that I have a thyroid condition, was diagnosed with hyperthyroidism in 2005, (overactive) treated for nine months with neomercazole which didn’t work, so had to have a subtotal thyroidectomy nine months later, and am on Thyroxine 150mcg once per day, also hypertension (high blood pressure). I am out sick from work for the past 9 months although I only worked part-time, 3 days per week, but now don’t know if I am able to return to the workplace, as my job (Customer Services Advisor) involves a lot of moving and standing. It’s a really difficult call. I really feel all of this poor physical health contributed to my depression and accepting the diagnosis of AS, even though it was a relief. I am so glad I found and joined your page.
I am so glad you and the page Faces of AS is trying to raise awareness of this horrible disease/disorder.