A.S. Face 0747: Suzi Aratin
In my world, I don’t like to give in to weakness, but Ankylosing Spondylitis forces me to do that on occasion. After reading the many stories of others with AS, I consider myself extremely fortunate. I live a relatively normal life, but have to allow myself those few days of pain and exhaustion, and have faith that those around me understand and won’t judge me too harshly. Like many of you, I was not a normal child. I seemed to “catch” everything. In 4th grade I got walking pneumonia. What other healthy 4th grader gets walking pneumonia? In my teens and 20’s, I felt like I never had the energy to keep up with myself, but there was never any diagnosis. Things didn’t get bad until I got pregnant with my first child. There are some women who enjoy being pregnant, and glow with the hormones coursing through their veins as they miraculously produce another life. I was not one of these people. I wasn’t able to sleep more than 2 hours at night because of horrendous back and rib pain. I would go to the chiropractor and get adjusted, and then go to bed at night only to have everything pop right back out of place within a few hours time. Of course, it was all blamed on pregnancy, and the back pain subsided several months after the birth of my wonderful daughter. AS finally kicked my ASS when my daughter was about 5 years old. It felt like I was walking around with a ton of bricks on my head. I couldn’t focus, could barely get through a workweek, and had lower back pain. It took almost a year of visiting different specialists before getting a diagnosis. Of course, I saved the rheumatologist for last! I was started on Humira, and eventually added methotrexate injections. Within a few months, I was feeling more human, more like the person I thought I should have been all along. It has been about 4 years since the diagnosis, and I have been able to get an MBA while working full-time, exercise regularly, and have given up the ghastly gluten in my diet. Exercise, yoga, and diet have had tremendously positive impacts in my life, and I am grateful that there are such wonderful medications out today to help those with immune-related illnesses. I hope that in the near future everyone afflicted with immune-related diseases are able to live productive, pain-free lives.
California United States of America