A.S. Face 0189: Denise Santana

My name is Denise Santana and I live in Rosenberg, Texas.  I am 38 years old and was diagnosed with AS just this past summer.  I have been very fortunate to have caught the disease in its early stages. I am HLA-B27+ and my first symptoms were about 15 years ago with pain in my knees and hips.  I always thought I had very bad menstrual cramps that radiated from my hips down into my knees and ankles.  Now that I have been diagnosed, I realized all my aches and pains in the past can be attributed to AS.  I had what I know now as three really bad flares.  Once in 2004, when I was under alot of stress, I went to the doctor with pain in my back and legs.  I got a referral to a Rhuematologist who said I had some sort of virus.  Then, in 2009, I had a second flare that caused horrible pain to the back of my head and neck.  I had jaw pain and blurred vision.  The doctor again said I had some sort of virus and sent me home with pain killers.  It was the worse pain ever and I ended up going to the ER the following week.  They gave me anti-inflammatories and sent me home.  No diagnosis.    Finally, after an in-office procedure with the gynocologist, I had a bout with the bacteria C-Diff, and it threw me into another flare.  Pain in my back, hips, legs, feet, hands, shoulders was unexplained and unaccounted for.  In a time period of about 5 months, I went to the doctor, found I was HLA-B27+, referred to a Rheumatologist, X-rayed, MRI’ed, and diagnosed with AS.  I started taking Humira and Mobic in August 2011.  Just recently I have also been diagnosed with auto-immune hypothyroidism so I am now on Synthroid, too.

There is so much to this disease that I have learned from reading about others online on sites like this, so much more than what my doctors have told me. Some days I feel like I have been hit by a truck or that I won’t make the day.  Some days I feel so drained and sleepy.  I fear that my health will just spiral down quickly now.  But I pray to God that he will lead me in making the right decisions to manage this disease so that I can be the best Mom, Wife, Daughter, Sister, Aunt, Teacher and Friend that I can.  These sites have been such great help in educating me about my invisible friend and have played the role to support me in being the best I can be.


Denise Santana

Rosenberg, Texas United States of America

4 Responses to “A.S. Face 0189: Denise Santana”

  1. Dear Denise,
    Thank you so much for sharing your story with us. I am glad you have finally been diagnosed. My best advice to you is to educate your self, ask questions demand answers, and give the medicines a chance to work. Try to do exercice or at least stretches to keep you flexiable.
    Best to you.
    Sincerely Cookie

  2. Denise, thank you for sharing your story. Do you think it affected your menstrual cycle? I had horrific menstrual cramps that if I didn’t take a few advil right away, I woukd be bent over in pain for the hour that I was waiting for it to kick in. Wonder if this disease makes it ten times worse…. The pain with us …. Like something abhormal with cytokines or whatever. I see some patterns with everyone I have read including myself….. I pray the Lord to take care of you. Feel free to write. It’s wonderful to have supportive friends when you need them. ……!!

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