A.S. Face 0299: Jeffrey Pagel

Hi my name is Jeffrey Pagel.  I’m 30 years old, I’m from Milwaukee, Wisconsin,  and I just got diagnosed with Ankylosing Spondylitis last Wednesday on March 14th 2012.

It all started last November when I started to have severe pain in the bottom of my left foot. I could barely stand without being in pain. I am a correctional officer and a large part of my job is walking on thick concrete all day, so as u can imagine I was in a lot of pain everyday. I went to my primary doctor who referred me to a podiatrist. The podiatrist took mri’s and x-rays but he never came up with answer to what was happening to my foot. He thought I might have had a stress fracture, but he wasn’t completely sure. I took three weeks off of work to let it heel. I literally stayed on the couch for three straight weeks. I did believe that my foot healed so I returned to work. Within hours of that first day back I felt the pain completely return. It was not only painful, but depressing.

I have been working as a correctional officer for seven years and I just used my remaining  paid sick time on a foot that never healed. Back in September of 2010 I suffered a major trauma. My wife was six months pregnant with my daughter Arianna when she was having braxton hicks contractions. She was laying on our living room floor to relive some pain. I was laying with her on the ground to make her feel better. When I went to stand up I put my left hand on our  glass coffee table(like I have a hundred times before ) to help support my body weight. I fell through the coffee table severely cutting my wrist. I severed an artery, tendons, and the main nerve in my hand. I seen my life flash in front of me and all I could think is that I’m going to die before I see my daughter be born. I survived thanks to my wife, the paramedics, and the doctors who had to perform emergency surgery to save my life. This tragedy took months of sick time that I have accrued throughout the years. Not only that but it took many months of physical therapy to even use my hand in simple situations. To this day I still have nerve damage and about half the strength as my other hand.

In early January I started noticing something going wrong with both my feet and my hands began to hurt. I told my podiatrist that the foot never healed. He suggested to me that maybe its a form of arthritis. Me being 30 years old and knowing what I know about arthritis from tv and movies I thought there was no way that could be a possibility. I went back to my primary doctor to try to search for an answer.

My doctor gave me pain medication to get through the day and referred me to a rheumatologist. It took about two months to get an initial appointment. At the initial appointment the doctor took blood, x-rays, and performed a physical test on my joints. He did notify me during the initial appointment that I was indeed suffering from a form of arthritis.

Last Wednesday was my follow-up appointment where I would get some answers. When he sat me down I heard about the first two minutes of what he had to tell me and the other twenty-eight minutes I was in a state of shock. I was diagnosed with ankylosing spondylitis. I felt almost as if I fell through another glass table. I went from virtually never being on medication to being on 7 medications. They are also planning on injections and infusions. It was all very overwhelming. Each day that has passed has been a struggle not only physically but mentally. Also learning about the disease and the medications I have to take is making me realize how serious this really is. My wife and I were going to start planning for another baby very soon, but due to the medication I don’t know if and when it will be possible. This will be an everyday battle for the rest of my life.

I survived falling through a glass table once and I know I can do it again.

Wisconsin United States of America

Jeffrey Pagel Facebook      Daddy’s Little Girl

11 Responses to “A.S. Face 0299: Jeffrey Pagel”

  1. Keep your head up. It’s overwhelming at first, and can continue to be. How it affects you each day will be a choice you have to make!!

  2. Thanks for sharing your story Jeffrey. You have a beautiful family and that will give you the strength to take this disease head on! Stay strong and stay positive.

  3. “injuries that never heal-red flag #1 for AS. I hope it reassures you Jeff that there are hundreds of people on this blog who went through that “first diagnosis.” I can still “see” the moment when I first “realized” this wasn’t going to go away. I can almost tell you what I was wearing. But there’s also hundreds of people on this blog that are proof that there “is life after Ankylosing Spondilitis.” There are hundreds of people on this blog who will tell you what a great releif it was “to know the cause.” I’m not going to sugar coat it and tell you you’re going to be 21 again-you won’t. But there are hundreds of people on this blog who will tell you that the medicines do work and can “alleviate” and calm down the AS. I still work on my feet, and my feet used to kill me, but once on Enbrel my feet quit hurting-but, I DON’T like to walk much and I wish I had a desk job. I think you should consider changing careers. I don’t want you to fret-but four years of school is a short time in the rest of your life Jeff. You must work for the government being a correctional officer-perhaps there’s some retraining you can do. Turn this negative into a positive.

  4. Jeffrey we feel your pain kid! It is overwhelming at first and then there are still days you feel like screaming why me. Unfortunately it is the hand that we were dealt. One thing I can tell you though is try to stay positive, read everything you can, and read through all of our stories and you will see you are not alone. We are all in this together! Also 7 medications seems a little much. I have degenerative disc disease, AS, stomache issues, and often insomnia and I only take two and sometimes 3 if I need a painkiller. Make sure you get your lblood checked every 3 months or so to check your liver etc

  5. It may not seem like much now, but it is good you got diagnosed quickly. Plan your finances and insurance accordingly, not to mention adjusting your family and work obligations . Mine, personally took 30 years with it starting at age 14 and a complication with cancer. Take good care of your body, mind, and spirit. Mainatin strong frienships for support and help when you will need it. Prayers of –God’s love and those around you — to you and your family. Fake the smile until you make it.

  6. Welcome to faces. I am sorry about your situations. It is good to be able to get meds. Take care of yourself the best you can. It’s possible to live and active life even with AS. My left foot is constantly inflammed and painful as is my right wrist..along with the other hot spots. But I’ve learned I can do more than I believe–even w/out med. Hang in there. There is hope.
    Elizabeth face 40

  7. It sounds like they are really trying to get a handle on this for you by giving you some aggressive treatment. Try to stay positive and give the meds some time to work. Some of them take a couple of months to kick in. Best of luck to you!

  8. Jeff and everyone else who is fighting the uphill battle of AS,
    You are so incredibly strong. Your strength is absolutely amazing. I see you everyday struggle with the pain and you barely complain. AS family, I am Jess (Jeff’s wife). Jeff and I have been together for 7 years and married nearly 5. Life has thrown us some curve balls but I’d have to say that this is by the far the biggest. But with strength, courage, support and love I know that this too will be something that we overcome. I would like to thank the “Faces” for the awesome support that you have already given Jeff. The day that he was diagnosed was dedicated to research. And amongst the research Jeff for you guys. He reads the stories and I can tell that it relieves him. I hope that we can find the proper medications to help Jeff live more of a “normal” life. Thank you again everyone for supporting each other and my husband. Your compassion is beautiful. Jeff, we will get through this. Together. Always. And Forever. I love you so much and I will always love you as much as I did from the moment I saw you.

  9. Thanks to everyone for the positive thoughts and advice. It really helps me get through the day. If anybody wants to talk I’m all over these sites on facebook. Thanks again and hope to meet more friends.

  10. Dear Jeffrey,
    Thank you so much for sharing your story with us. What a fighter you are, there is now way you will go wrong in this journey called life, with your strength, an angel by your side and a precious cherub, to keep you in line!
    Sincerely Cookie

  11. Thanks for sharing your story Jeff. You have a beautiful family 🙂

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