A.S. Face 0114: Melissa Z.
I am not sure where to begin…..but I always knew there was something wrong with my body since I was young. I had been hospitalized at age 5 and at age 15 for severe GI issues, high fever, vomitting, and high white cell counts, but they could not identify what was causing it…so they told my mother it must just be stress. My mother and my grandmother likely both had AS but were never diagnosed. My grandmother died about age 55 from septsus following a heart procedure and my mother died at age 60 from congestive heart failure due to diabetes. My mother was diagnosed with “some sort of spinal arthritis” a year before she died, but she assumed it was related to her other ailments. The sad thing about this is that my grandmother died before I was born and my mother died before my children were born. I had always assumed that weight gain and diabetes were the villians in this story, but now, I am beginning to think that weight gain and diabetes are more likely created by AS.
In 2006, after the birth of my second child, I had a severe bout with uveitis. It became so bad that I had an inner-occular injection, which seemed to quiet things down for about a year. Then, the uveitis returned with a vengence and nothing could stop it…..more inner-occular injections and more pred forte drops…..but it persisted and then became resistant to the steriods and, alas, at the age of 36, I was pre-glacoma in my right eye. I have always had lots of aches and pains, which I naturally chalked up to my years of athletics (both in high school and college). I had always been extremely active and figured I deserved all of my aches and pains because I had been rough on my body when I was younger. Anyway, as time progressed, so did my disease. I was put on Methotrexate to help my eye recover and it worked very well……for 8 months…..then, all of the pain and the fatigue returned. They tell you to exercise when you have AS, but with working and raising kids…..it’s hard to find time. I used to make time to exercise, but the fatigue is so overwhelming I have to take a nap midday just to make it past the bedtime for my kids. In desperation, I rescued a large dog knowing full well that the dog would have to be walked a couple of times a day, and that seems to get me moving, even when I am fatigued. At this time, I am on Methotrexate and Humira injections and so far….so good.
I am still heading forward on my journey with AS. I am not sure where it will take me, but I will always move forward. My goal is to live long enough to meet my grandchildren and hopefully get to know them and play with them. I was raised with one grandmother as my paternal grandfather was killed in the service before I was born. My paternal grandmother was my only grandparent growing up, which is unusual for someone my age (early 40s). I try not to let my disease run my life…I have made some modifications but I am still in control and hope to stay that way.
Charlotte, North Carolina United States of America