A.S. Face 0031 : Jennifer Krueger


Alright.  I think it’s time for an update! I am now officially living in the windy city – AKA Chicago, Illinois (my first big lifestyle change since my diagnosis at age 18). I had been volunteering at a mental health institution back home for the last year – which now leads me to make my move and study Clinical Forensic Psychology at The Chicago School of Professional Psychology.

I started having symptoms of AS 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, when I really started to realize that crawling around on the floor because my 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 – ain’t nothing wrong with this ol’ body. 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. Holy moly, 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 I never 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, she is truly amazing. I’ve gone to physical therapy before, but due to insurance, that is no longer happening. I’m trying to get into yoga and since my apartment building has a pool in it, maybe I’ll get into some swimming sometime soon (per doctor’s orders haha).

I am currently on Tramadol, Etodolac, Vitamin D (400IU – a bout of kidney stones in 2012 decreased my dose from 1000IU), Gabapentin, Methotrexate, Remicade (300 mg every 4 weeks), Folic Acid, Fish Oil, and Cymbalta.

With how sick I was upon my original diagnosis, I never thought I would be able to move 3 ½ hours away from home and make a life for myself. (I didn’t even know if I could actually get through undergrad!) But, I think with a good support system, anyone can do anything he/she puts his/her mind to. So, I am eternally grateful to my family and friends. Along with my dogs Maggie and Jack (of course, some of the best support one can get!) and to my best friend in the world, my kitty cat Winston.

From Wisconsin to Illinois, United States of America


Wisconsin, United States of America

12 Responses to “A.S. Face 0031 : Jennifer Krueger”

  1. Dear Jennifer,
    I am so thankful that you got an early diagnoses and treatment. My symptoms started around the age of 14 and my diagnoses took 32 years. So much time wasted. That is one of the reasons I am determined to do this and reach my goal of 1000 faces so people will take Ankylosing Spondylitis seriously. Thank you for your amazing story. You are a very courageou young woman, one to be admired and respected.
    Sincerely Cookie

  2. Thank you for your story. I am certainly going to now keep pushing my doctor for more tests. He has diagnosed me with fibro and spondolarthraphy but I do believe the diagnosis is not fully correct. I am not doubting him but my story is much like yours and I am still suffering so much. I wish you the best of luck and thank you again for your story….Dawn

  3. Thanks for sharing Jennifer, it makes my blood boil that after all these years, there is still such difficulty in diagnosing AS, and in finding a doctor who actually knows anything about it. So glad that you are getting the help and support you need now.

    Jackie Aitchison said this on October 21, 2011 at 8:39 pm

  4. Hi Jennifer! Seeing that you go to Madison for treatment, you must live in my area. I’m in Beloit, WI which is about an hour from Madison. When I was originally diagnosed 20 years ago, we didn’t have a rheumatologist in town but one came down from Madison once a month to see patients at the hospital. After about 3 years, my AS went into remission but now, 17 years later, it’s back with a vengeance. The doctors I see now don’t believe the original diagnosis because they can’t find my records (things weren’t computerized back then), I’m HLA-B27 negative, a woman and my back hasn’t fused. I’m continuing to fight for treatment here but have tracked down the doctor that diagnosed me at Dean in Madison. Unfortunately, he can’t see me until Feb 27th of next year. I’m thinking about starting a support group in my area for people with chronic pain. If it’s something you’re interested in and you’re close to Beloit, please contact me at amiedavis77@yahoo.com. I am happy you found a good team to manage your health & wish you the very best. Stay strong!

    Amie Davis said this on October 24, 2011 at 12:03 am

  5. Jennifer, I think we were separated at birth! I’m just a little older than you but have had my share of frustrating doctors. It’s unbelievable. But I also live in Madison and desperately need help finding a specialist to actually help me. They all agree I have severely inflamed si joints, ankylosing spondylitis, and ehlers-danlos…yet no one is helping me. Could you please please please email me? jennajoanis@gmail.com I would greatly appreciate it! (or anyone else reading this from the Madison area who happens to be reading this)

  6. Just a suggestion. I get my IV through the back of my hand. I find it a lot more comfortable.

  7. I am so thankful that you received good treatment for your condition. My 151/2 year old cat was just diagnosed with this disease. It is horrible. They did not give her any pain meds, which is cruel, but since it’s the weekend, hopefully it was an oversight. Wish her luck, love you. -j

  8. Hi Jennifer! My husband has AS and we live in the Madison area. I’m desperate to get him into another physician because, well, his current doctor does NOTHING :(. It’s just a short, “Oh…sounds like there’s some inflammation….tough luck…See you for 5 minutes again in 6 weeks?” And that’s basically it. ;/ duh. Anyways, could you please email/tell me the name of the physician you see or any you’d recommend? I’m so glad to see that there is hope without having to travel far. Thank you!

  9. Hi Jennifer! Im in Madison too! If you ever want to talk. Hope you are doing okay! –Kristyn kristynblazich@aol.com

  10. i just got diagnosed with A.S. am I screwed?

  11. Im so happy for you in finally finding a Dr who listened. Im having the same problem. Can I get the name of your doctor?

  12. Hey there, I also have AS and live in the windy city. I have an MA in counseling. If you want to chat let me know. I am still trying to figure out my options. I am not on meds and am trying to treat through diet.

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