I was so relieved when I finally got diagnosed in 2010! I started having symptoms as early as 1997, but I chalked them up to sports injuries and a snowmobile wreck, and an uncomfortable desk chair. I went to see chiropractors, and doctors that would do x-rays and do blood tests for rheumatoid arthritis but I never got any answers. By the time I could get into see a doc, my inflammation would be gone and I’d be moving around just fine. They didn’t seem to believe me that just days before, I was having to crawl on my knees just to get to the bathroom in the morning, or that I just couldn’t stand the excruciating pain of simply sitting at my desk. My worst pain always seemed to be in my lower back and my right hip. At one point I was prescribed 1600 mg of naproxen, which was like heaven! This was of course before they found out how bad it was for your liver. All those years I’d go for weeks or days walking around like I was 90 years old, then I’d wake up and be just fine again for a week or two or even a month if I was lucky. While I was pregnant with my daughter in 2004, I had my first bout with iritis. It was excruciating! I couldn’t keep my left eye open, couldn’t be in the light at all and had to be driven to the eye doctor. I specifically asked him if there were other conditions, such as pregnancy, that would cause someone to get iritis. “Nope.” He said, “Some people just get it.” I got through the pregnancy and God blessed me with a few years of hardly any symptoms at all. I don’t know how I would have carried a baby around with the hip and back pain I’d had. I wouldn’t have been able to feed or bathe her on the days when I barely get off the floor.
It was also a blessing that I didn’t care for the original eye doctor I had gone to the first time. When I felt myself getting iritis again in 2009, I made an appointment with a different eye doctor. This wonderful man asked me during my exam if I ever had back or hip pain. I thought it was a strange question coming from an eye doctor, but I told him about my years long battle with chronic back and hip pain. He told me he wanted me to see a rheumatologist. I agreed and he sent me to my wonderful rheumatologist who finally convinced me that I am not crazy, I just have AS! I wanted to kiss my eye doctor! What a relief to finally know what has been causing me so many crazy symptoms for so long. I had come across AS once in 1999 while “googling” my symptoms, but at the time I couldn’t find much information and I forgot all about it. Now I want people to know about it, and hear about it like you do MS and other autoimmune diseases. How many other people are out there thinking they are crazy hypochondriacs like I did for so long? My rheumatologist specializes in AS because her father suffers from it, so she understands everything about it, almost as good as someone who has it.
I own a sign & screen printing business and I just helped with an MS fundraiser for a friend. I designed and printed some really cute t-shirts that say “MS is BS — Huntin’ for a Cure.” It’s got me inspired to come up with a “AS is BS” design! That will be my next project for sure!
Big hugs to all my fellow AS’ers!
Nebraska United States of America