A.S. Face 0050 : Bridget Brister

Of all my health problems, A.S. is the dominant one.  When I think of my health, it tops the list. It’s with me 24/7 even through the LDN, which has been a fabulous medication for me.  A.S. helped shape me into the person I am. I’m not sure what I’d be like now without it.  It started in my left hip when I was ten years old, after I  ran and played all day. Ended up on the floor in tears, then the E.R. No diagnosis. Spent the next 3 years on crutches every time it flared up, about half the time. Spending middle school on crutches, with no diagnosable reason, is not fun, especially when you also have glasses and braces. It took eleven years and 31 doctors to diagnose me with AS, even though we told every doctor that my older brother has had A.S. since age ten. It has been the biggest battle in my life, larger than finances, romance, broken hearts, career (well, it took over the career part of my life completely). I received tentative diagnoses in the meanwhile, including “It’s all in her head,” “She’s just looking for attention,” “Growing pains,” and “Myofascial pain syndrome.” One rheumetologist put me on a regimen of Vicodin and Tramadol for 2.5 years, which was one of the worst things that ever happened to me. Those are horrible to detox off of. Chronic migraines (neck injury + A.S.) caused me to drop out of high school in my last semester. I worked my Dream Job for a while (overseeing a boarding stable and training horses) but my health deteriorated. Then I waitressed, then I couldn’t do THAT anymore, so I officed, then I couldn’t do THAT anymore, so I call-centered, then I tried being a part-time bank teller with handicap accommodations, but couldn’t even do that anymore, so when the bank fired me in Feb 2010 I applied for Disability. I was denied a total of six times before winning my case Sep 14th 2011. The judge told me I qualified based on only a third of my diagnoses, and that I have been deserving of SSDI for over 4 years. Our house was due to be foreclosed Nov 1st. Cut it a little close. I am the youngest of 6 (half)siblings, we all share our father’s DNA but have different moms, except one sister, who was adopted. She is healthy. The rest of us have many autoimmune disorders, including A.S., M.S., R.A., and we lost our oldest sister to genetically-predominant melanoma (not caused by the sun). Cancer is also very common in our family. We would be a very interesting genetic study, I think. Our dad is fighting prostate cancer, but has never had any other significant health problems, indicating that he’s a homozygous HLA-B27 carrier. Now I’m 27 years old and my list of diagnoses is: Ankylosing Spondylitis, Fibromyalgia, Interstitial Cystitis, Anxiety, Depression, Raynaud’s Syndrome, Morton’s Neuroma, Endometriosis, Hemangiom Hemiplegic migraines, Osteoporosis, Costochondritis, Scoliosis, Rosacea, Hypothyroid, Temporo-Madibular Joint Disorder, Gastritis, and Herpetic Gingivostomatitis, which is a very hellish manifestation of cold sores. I take 22 prescriptions, 18 of them daily. I take between 26-40 prescription pills every day, and 8-20 over-the-counter pills. It’s rather overwhelming. I use a cane, Kinny sticks or a walker most of the time, and I have a wheelchair for very bad days or outings. My husband is also sick, with a mystery illness, and has been unable to work for over 3 years now, so we’re what you’d call “broke and crippled” lol. Our daughter is about to turn 3, and is very healthy and very smart, thanks be to God and all the saints. I know she has a very high chance of coming down with something autoimmune, but she is a very strong, happy person and I’m sure she will be able to live a good life regardless. We have an iron streak of optimism in our family, which is a very lucky thing!
Bridget Brister, age 27,
Moriarty, New Mexico United States of America

5 Responses to “A.S. Face 0050 : Bridget Brister”

  1. Hi Bridget lovely to see you telling your story I know you have had it hard thank you.

  2. Bridge, I am so proud of my courageous daughter. love,

    • Dear Mama Jean,
      We all are, and it’s wonderful that you would take the time to read and post, it’s so important to all of us, it isn’t often friends and family offer thier support and unconditional love.
      Sincerely Cookie

  3. Dear Bridget,

    It amazes me how similar all of our stories are. Thank you so much for sharing yours with us. Glad you didn’t give up on your fight. I am with you. AS has made me who I am, or at least a better me.
    Sincerely Cookie

  4. Our story is so similar in so many ways. My brother and I both have AS….and I grew up in Estancia but graduated from Moriarty in 96. Its comforting to know someone so close is fighting this debilitating disease.
    Tracy Coleman-Jaramillo

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