A.S. Face 0772: Marie
I was originally diagnosed around 19 years of age. I was lifting heavy items at work and strained myself in some manner. When the lower back pain wouldn’t go away and I was dealing with sporadic hip pain, I went back to the doctor for a diagnosis. Well, many trips later, I was referred to a rheumatologist. For Florida being the retirement mecca that it is, there is not an abundance of rheumatologists in the area. After answering questions, undergoing lab work and a physical examination, the rheumatologist declared that I had ankylosing spondylitis. Now that was a mouthful. Since this took place in the early 1980s, there wasn’t a lot of information available on the topic. However, I did discover the most information through the Arthritis Foundation. I was prescribed NSAIDs and I went blissfully on with my life. I had occasional bouts of extreme hip pain, especially after a lot of walking (like walking around Disney) and sometimes for no known reason at all. During the course of the next 20 years, I changed NSAIDs when they started affecting my intestinal system and took medicine to counter the effects of the NSAIDs on my intestinal system. With my 40s came the onset of severe migraines and a diagnosis of irritable bowel system. Life was still okay, albeit I took things a little more slowly and watched for signs of pain.
Then, in my mid 40s, I started experiencing more pain, in my neck, lower back, hands and feet. I went to my general practitioner, who had been prescribing the NSAIDs to me for the last 10 years and asked for a referral to a rheumatologist. I ended up going back to a rheumatology practice that I had originally visited more than 20 years ago. After 1 ½ years of visits, I was now on methotrexate, DMARDs and Humira, along with the NSAIDs. However, I did not feel that my doctor was listening to me, nor appreciated the amount of discomfort that I was living with. My quality of life had deteriorated, mainly due to the pain in my feet which severely restricted my movement.
I started seeing a podiatrist who worked with me on my feet issues. He diagnosed me with Morton’s neuroma and plantar fasciitis. Then he began the process of cortisone injections in my heels and toes. Wowza! After a few treatments, I was more mobile and was able to forego the toe “treatment”. However, the plantar fasciitis has been a recurring problem that has really affected my mobility. I had surgery at the beginning of this year … but I’m still waiting to see if it was a success.
During this time, I began to see another rheumatologist but didn’t feel that we connected very well. Then, in a random computer search, I found a new rheumatologist who had just moved to the area and started a practice with some other doctors. Since her practice was new, she was able to take me straight away. I’ve enjoyed meeting another doctor to assist me in my journey. This doctor has refined my diagnosis as undifferentiated spondyloarthritis, along with fibromyalgia. Hopefully, with her help, I’ll be able to achieve my goals.
My main goals in life are to still be able to enjoy life, maintain some mobility, and enjoy my wonderful husband and 2 beautiful daughters. Hopefully, with my new doctor, some changes in lifestyle and exercise, I will be able to enjoy them for many more years to come. 😀
Florida, United States of America