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.
Rosenberg, Texas United States of America