A.S. Face 0201: Christena
Hello, My name is Christena. I was diagnosed with AS in 2010, I am 33 yrs old. I have 3 beautiful kids that I gave birth to and 2 beautiful step daughters. Now that I have this diagnosis I worry about my children having it, hopefully they will not. I started experiencing back and hip pain when I was 16, but just told myself it was due to being pregnant. Then I blamed it on carrying the baby all the time, and many other excuses. This went on for years until the fall of 2009, pain in my hips, low back, knees, and toes was so bad that I decided to go see a rheumatologist because I knew something serious was going on. The first rheumatologist asked if I had ever been on an antidepressant and I replied,”yes, I had postpartum depression with my last child” she said, ” I think you have fibromyalgia, you need to exercise and begin cymbalta.” I tried that but the pain continued to get worse. I told her how bad the pain was in the morning, she started me on lyrica. I researched fibromyalgia and knew I did not have fibromyalgia. By this time I had gained 35 lb (which is major when you are only 4’11”) I decided I wanted another opinion because fibromyalgia is supposed to be the last resort when nothing is found to be wrong with you and yet I had not even had a blood test of any kind. in the spring of 2010, I went to a new doctor because by this time all the weight I put on had caused even more strain on my joints and was now in even worse shape. Every morning I would wake up and be in tears as my husband helped me out of bed and helped me to get dressed so I could go to work. The fatigue was unbearable and was struggling to be a mother, I was beginning to get depressed because I had no idea what was wrong with me and the pain was so awful, I wanted to die…. I had my first visit with the new rheumatologist told him my story and what I was going through. He said he thought he knew what was wrong with me and did some xrays and blood tests and came up with the diagnosis. He stopped the lyrica and cymbalta and started me on steroids short term and then several anti-inflamatories. I had trouble with every one he tried in some way or another and started to feel hopeless. He then started me on humira, after just 2 weeks I noticed a slight difference, by 4 weeks I felt like a new person. I still work 40+ hours a week and I am able to be a mother to my children again. I have some flare ups but mostly I am doing very well. I try to stay positive and not dwell on what my future may be like with this disease. I am a medical assistant and through working in health care I have learned although AS is not very common, doctors and drug companies are becoming more aware of the disease and how to best treat it. Hopefully with learning more about the disease less people will live years in pain and diagnosing and treatment will continue to get better.
Aurora Indiana United States of America