A.S. Face 0236: Paula Geerinck

My name is Paula Geerinck, I am Irish, 48 years old and live in the Republic of Ireland. I have just joined your page, Faces of Ankylosing Spondilitis. I was diagnosed in September of 2010 after a long time chasing this disease. I was with three different Rheumatologists, I had pain, stiffness, fatigue and depression, I was pumped with all kinds of different pills, methotrexate, steroids, and nothing worked. I suffered on for the best part of 3 years, (I was also assumed to be a hypochondriac) until I found the right consultant rheumatologist who diagnosed me after two visits.. it was actually a relief to know I wasn’t imagining the aches and pains and all the rest that goes with it. I am HLAB27 Positive, there is a history of arthritis in my family, my sister has Scoiratic arthritis. I spent 10 weeks from May to August 2011 in a Psychiatric Unit for stress, anxiety and depression which is part and parcel of this disease. A lot of people look at me and say oh you look so well but my answer to that always is you can’t judge a book by the cover. They don’t realise how debilitating AS is. I also have degenerative disc disorder. My Rheumatologist has put me on Enbrel and it has greatly improved my life, I am currently keeping active but find that now even with swimming, non weight-bearing as advised, the stiffness and pains have come back. I discussed this with my consultant also in December who gave me a steroid injection, as with the holiday season he didn’t want to put me on new drug, but it seems when I see him next month that is the way I’m going to have to go. I would also like to add to this that I have a thyroid condition, was diagnosed with hyperthyroidism in 2005, (overactive) treated for nine months with neomercazole which didn’t work, so had to have a subtotal thyroidectomy nine months later, and am on Thyroxine 150mcg once per day, also hypertension (high blood pressure). I am out sick from work for the past 9 months although I only worked part-time, 3 days per week, but now don’t know if I am able to return to the workplace, as my job (Customer Services Advisor) involves a lot of moving and standing. It’s a really difficult call. I really feel all of this poor physical health contributed to my depression and accepting the diagnosis of AS, even though it was a relief. I am so glad I found and joined your page.

I am so glad you and the page Faces of AS is trying to raise awareness of this horrible disease/disorder.

Ireland


7 Responses to “A.S. Face 0236: Paula Geerinck”

  1. Dear Paula,
    Thank you so much for sharing your story with us. I am glad that you found us too, and together we will bring the “truth” of Ankylosing Spondylitis out.
    Sincerely Cookie

  2. I am so happy you are being ‘heard’.

    Keep your voice strong. Thank you for your story.

    • Thank you Joyce.. I will keep my voice and hoepfully myself strong, some days are good, some days are bad…it can be so difficult to get going sometimes but I wont give up or give in. Your AS friend Paula

  3. Thanks for sharing and I hope you find therapy (medication and lifestyle) to make you feel better. I was also viewed as a hypochondriac for about 10 years, so I know how that feels. Stay strong!

    • Thank you Melissa. I really had to ‘chase’ this disease, as you have seen from my story, three different rheumatologists and I was lucky in the end to get the right one, although AS is horrible atl least now I know what im dealing with and Im not a hypochondriac. Your AS friend Paula

  4. Paula, thank you for sharing your story. I am so sorry that you have to live with AS. It is a wretched disease but I am so glad that you now know that you aren’t a hypochondriac! I went through the same thought process. Depression comes with this thing so know that you are not alone. I try my best to keep moving which seems to be key. Yesterday I didn’t get out of the house at all and feel so much worse so I am going to force myself to take a walk today. It usually helps, no matter how painful. Lifts the spirits too. I live in the Seattle area so it is usually raining too which I can’t use as an excuse. I put on my coat, hat, gloves and boots and go. I hope that you can do the same and know that there are lots of us here walking the walk with you. Stay strong and beautiful! Your AS friend, Claudia

    • Thank you claudia..it really is so good to know I am not alone and can come here and share the good and the bad. I woke up this morning planning to go for a swim, but just could not get myself out of bed, so I went with it and am going easy on myself today, hopefully tomorrow will be a better day, it really is one day at a time with this wretched disease. I live in the west of Ireland so of course we have a lot of rain and dampness which does’nt help the condition at all. Stay strong.. your AS friend Paula

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