A.S. Face 0257: Paul Forster
My Name is Paul. I am from Utah. I was diagnosed January 2011. I am very new to A.S. and find it very interesting to study how it affects us all so differently. I consider myself lucky when I read some of the stories that have been posted here. So far A.S. has not affected my life too much. I was diagnosed with A.S. after about 20 different doctor visits in two weeks. It started when I was on Christmas vacation with my wife at her parents house in Vegas. I got out of the shower one morning and stepped out onto the floor mat and felt like I had twisted my ankle. I didnt think too much of it at the time as I have twisted my ankle many times in my life playing basketball. We still had two more days and didnt think too much of the ankle other than it made me limp a little from the slight pain. As the days went on my lower back started to hurt. This too wasnt anything too rare for my body as I have had back problems since I was a teenager, which looking back now, could have easily been signs of A.S. passed over by doctors, myself and family, because I had been diagnosed with slight scoliosis. Any way back to Vegas… after a few more days of being on vacation we drove back to Utah a day early so I could rest my aching body and be ready to start work and school again. We made it home late that night and unpacked and went to bed. The next morning I got out of bed, my ankle still hurting, this time a lot worse. I was able to make it down the hallway to the kitchen before my eyes went black and I had to quickly grab hold of a chair to avoid blacking out and hurting myself. That morning the doctor visits started. We went to the family doctor who examined me and took xrays. He was unable to come to a conclusion as to what had happened and got me a boot/brace for my foot and told me to ice it and take some anti-inflammatories and see if it would get better. I did as he prescribed. A day went by and I started to notice a white build-up in my eye, didnt think too much of this either. Another day went by and my eye started to get really irritated, red, itchy, and my vision started to go. I believe this was new years eve. We were able to get an appointment for an eye doctor, who after looking at me told me he couldnt help me and that my best bet was to go to the ER. So we did. I was lucky enough to get an ER doctor who knew enough about eyes and even had an ophthalmologist friend he could refer me to, because he believed I had iritis. He called his friend and I was lucky enough the doctor was able to see me on New Years day. I was seen by this doctor and as he was examining me and listening to my story he said “this isnt my area of expertise, but I would say you probably have Ankylosing Spondylitits”, I had no idea of what he spoke as this was the first I had ever heard of this disease. He referred me to a rhuematologist. I called the ones that he referred me to to get an appointment and they both had waiting times of up to six months. I had a follow up appointment with my GP the following day and while I was there I told him what the eye doctor had said about A.S. He concurred and referred me to another rhuematologist, this one he called himself and said I needed to get in right away. I was able to get in within three days. After a few more visits and tests, he diagnosed me with A.S. late in January. My symptoms have luckily been pretty mild considering what I have heard from other stories, but still some days are just unbearable. I currently am on a regimen of .5mL methotrexate injections twice a week and 500 mg naproxen daily. This has been working for me so far. I recently have found out that what apparently happened that morning in Vegas getting out of the shower was that I tore my tibial tendon in my left foot, which had been made weak due to the A.S. The pain from this was just always assumed to come from the A.S. and since it has gone untreated for more than a year now, it has completely separated and deformed my foot. I will be getting reconstruction surgery in May to correct it and am not looking forward to the recovery time. However I am hopeful that after the recovery and with my A.S. in check I should be able to start exercising again. I am looking forward to being able to run again. I use to run 10-12 miles a week before the vegas vacation and havent been able to run since. I am grateful that I have been able to find a rhuematologist that is understanding and works with me. I am also very grateful for my supportive wife, who bless her heart had only been married to me for about 3 months when this all came down on us, not exactly something you want to start a marriage on. But she has been wonderful. I am very grateful to know that there are many out there that understand what we have to deal with on a daily basis because there are even more that have no idea.
Utah United States of America