A.S. Face 0372: R. Eric Baker
My name is Eric, the whole name is Randell Eric Baker.
I am 54 years old , white male, I was born and raised in Stockton California and currently live just outside of Stockton in the country community of Morada Calif.
I am married for 30 years now to my wife Kathy and we have 3 young adult children, the oldest our son Isaac, and 2 daughter, Erica and Emilee.
I am another Face of Ankylosing Spondylitis and here’s my story
A little about me be (AS)
I have always been a very active person, independent, and could do just about anything. I am what you would call an outdoorsman, love to camp, hike, backpack, go fishing and hunting.
Hunting being my most favorite thing to do, not so much for getting the game but it gave me the chance to get out to places that the normal person did not go, and i have seen places in the back country and wildlife the average person never gets to see or only sees in pictures or a book. I also enjoy archery and going Bow and Arrow hunting for game.
I did a lot of backpacking, I have logged over 12,000 miles and have spent hundreds of nights under the stars in remote high counrty places, cooking backpacking meals, hiking trails and fishing alpine lakes for trout.
My profession was as a Journeyman Diesel mechanic or Master mechanic which basically means I did everything when it comes to working on Big rig trucks and the trailers they pull with the trucks. Building trucks from the ground up if needed, and keeping them running to make their hauls. I was a shop foreman for a local trucking company that hauled General Mills products from the factory that was in Lodi calif.
Living in the country and I did all of my own work around the home, whether it was a remodeling project, putting up new fences, plumbing, or electrical work, I did it all.
I am also an artist.
All of this changed when I got (AS)
Living with (AS)
I am 54 now, when I was in my early twenties I started to have pain that would come and go in my lower back. Then I started to get these sharp pains that would be in my ribs in the one area on the left side just below my heart. This went off and on throughout my twenties and the Doctors had no cue what was causing it. At 29 years old I had a very scary incident with my heart where it went into rapid heart rate, went to the emergency and spent 3 days in the hospital before they could get my heart to slow down. I was diagnosed with MVP Mitral valve prolapse with atril fib and was put on medication to keep my heart in rhythm, medication I am still taking. The doctors did not know what caused this, now i know it was the (AS) and my (AS) still affects my heart when ever I have spasms in my upper back it makes my heart try to go out of rhythm even with the medication.
In my early thirties I was still active and just put up with the back pain when i had it. At about 33 years old I started to have pain that would come and go in my hips and my elbows, when it came it was intense and terrible pain. Went to the doctor and they could not find out what was causing it. By the time I was 34 years old the pain was in my fingers, hands, wrist, elbows, shoulders, lower and upper back and hips. The doctors did test and still could not find out what was wrong. I was sent to a RA doctor in Sacramento calif. Dr. Kenneth Weisner one of the top RA doctors in the nation, he ran some test and diagnosed me with HLA-B positive spondyloaithropathies and the disease Ankylosing Spondylitis. After he explained the disease to me and what I was to expect I was shocked!
I knew my life was going to change and how I lived it.
I was put on three medications all of which helped very little.
By the time I was 36 years old, I had to give up Archery do to much pain and inflammation in my hands and arms and I could no longer go backpacking because of the back pain.
By the time I was Forty years old every joint in my body and my back was being effected by (AS). I was also still dealing with the MVP, and now IBS. I had to stop working and went on full-time disability.
I was now having days where I could not get out of bed, I lost all of the grip in my left hand and half of my grip in the right hand, major flareups that would last for months at a time and intense pain in various joints in my body, the IBS and now Psoriatic arthritis.
I was now having to use a cane to walk and later i got a pre-mobility scooter to use when we went on outing that required a lot of walking.
I reached a point where I was sick of being sick, so i started doing research on the web about (AS) and I started seeing things about a doctor in England who was having great success with (AS) patients. Dr. Alan Ebringer and his research on the London AS No-Starch diet. A patient of his Carol Sinclair worked with Dr. Ebringer and put together a book called The IBS Low-Starch Diet. I got the book and started on the diet and removed all starch, refined sugar and dairy products from my diet. it was difficult at the start but I started a food journal and it helped me to keep track of the safe foods to eat and the unsafe foods that caused flareups Within three months all of the inflammation was gone out of my hands, I got all of my grip back in my right hand and about one later I got most of the grip back in my left hand, although I already had bone damage in both hands..
Now at 54 years old I have been on the No-Starch diet for almost 6 years and along with supplements I am taking, I am no longer on any type of medication other than the heart med I have to still take and my (AS) and very near to being in remission. I am very happy about this although the damage has been done because of so many years with the disease but I have slowed it way down and with the health routine I am doing now I am taking care of both the symptoms and the cause of the disease.
My RA doctor says now that I am doing better than all of his (AS) patients that are on medications.
A quote I use to help explain (AS) to others is ” Ankylosing Spondylitis is a life changing experience ”
Although (AS) has changed my life and how I do things now, I will continue to fight it the best I can for as long as I can.
A few Changes in my life that I have had to make due to (AS)
1. I love hunting, I could no longer get out in the woods to hike and hunt. In Calif a few years ago the Calif dept of Fish and Game set some new regulations to help individuals with disabilities. One was a Disability archers permit- this allowed individuals with a disability who could not draw a bow to hunt with to be able to use a crossbow during the archery seasons to hunt. I applied for and was able to get this permit so now I once again can go hunting during archery season. Something I have not been able to do for almost 20 years now. The other was a Disability Mobility license which allowed a person with a disability to hunt and shoot from any motorized vehicle. I was able to receive a life time license so now I can get out and hunt more.
2. I have started a new interest in my art work I have basically given up on it. I am now a Pyrography artist which is using special heat pens to do art work on wood and my favorite paper.
3. A whole new way of eating, which has made huge benefits to my health.
4. Because of bone damage in my ankles and knees it was getting hard to do any kind of walking of any distance. In January of 2012 I got a pre-mobility light weight scooter that lets me get around places when we go places that require a lot of walking. The neat thing about this scooter is it only weighs 120lbs and can be taken down into three parts for easy transportation
So this is a little bit about my life with (AS) hope it can help someone out.
California United States of America