A.S. Face 0333: Samantha Guel
My name is Sam and I am from Oregon. I first started having pain in middle school in my knees. The pain continued and when I was pregnant I started having awful hip pain. I had hip pain and knee pain that gradually increased and spread to my hands and upper back. One morning I woke with awful pain that shot up and down my leg when any pressure was applied. For the next three months I used a walker, and only had occasional two day breaks from the pain. I began having a lot of swelling in my joints. I felt awful because I had a one year old who I couldn’t play with or take care of on my own. I was sent to a rheumatologist who said I could have blood work done to see if I had the HLA B-27 gene, “just to rule it out”. He said that it would just indicate it could possibly be Ankylosing Spondylitis. Shortly after, I had a bad flare and dragged myself to my primary doctor’s office to be seen by a different doctor because my primary was out. After checking me out, I asked him what the blood work ended up showing because I hadn’t heard from the rheumy. He said it was positive and his eyes lit up in an “ah-ha!” moment. He practically ran from the room and came in with a giant medical book. He sat on the table next to me and showed me a page with “ANKYLOSING SPONDYLITIS” written at the top. As he read down the list of symptoms, to which I answered “yes!” at every one. He sent me across the hall to get an x-ray of my pelvis, then showed me the jagged bones. He said that is what AS looks like on an x-ray. After another year and a half of my primary telling me how sorry he was they couldn’t do anything more than medrol dose packs, ani-inflamatories and pain killers until the rheumy made a move, he sent me to a spine clinic. This doctor was amazing. He sent me to physical therapy and after working in PT for a few months, the therapists and doctor were confident it was my SI’s and sacroiliac injections would help. I had the injections on a Monday and by Friday I was almost a new person. My rheumatologist considered that, along with everything else, proof enough to re-diagnose me with AS, and start me on treatments.
Along with the struggles to take care of my son during his first two years, I had to quit my job, give up my active life, reconsider what I was going to school for, and lost a lot of self-esteem. Now that I have a diagnosis, hopefully I can start gaining things back with the help of my amazing doctors, friends and family.
Silverton Oregon United States of America