A.S. Face 0820: Holly Rygaard

Face 820

June 17, 1971 – July 11, 2021

I am 42yrs old. I have the most supporting family including the love of my life, my husband Kevin, my 2 sons, my sister and my mom. I am a R.N. in a very busy University Labor and Delivery Unit. I was diagnosed with A.S. in March of this year after 3 yrs of SI Joint and lower back pain. I went throughout multiple doctors (PCP, Orth, Spinals specialist, anesthesia pain, 2 rheumatologist and finally to a research rheumatologist.). I was told it was my weight, lack of exercise, lack of muscle strength, poor posture, med seeking and just trying to get out of work. The spinal surgeon told there is absolutely no way I could feel pain in my SI joint as I claimed as there are no nerves in that joint. I left his office feeling so defeated, the first rheum told me that since I was a nurse I knew how to work the system and was just drug seeking and trying to get out of going to work.  That was not farther from the truth. I graduated from nursing school 20yrs almost to the date from when I graduated from high school and my life as a nurse in L&D made me to happy. After the second rheum he said that he could see signs that pointed toward AS but didn’t feel comfortable giving me that “label” so he referred me to physician that specialized in the research of AS in the Houston Medical Center. The moment I met the specialist I felt so validated. She was the first person to very truly listen to my story without coming in with a preconceived idea or diagnosis. After about 45mins of physical examinations she said I know that you probably already know this but you have AS.  My husband burst into tears as did I. She turned to console him saying its okay we have ways of treating and managing this is not terminal. My husband looked at her and said he wasn’t crying because of the diagnosis itself but because someone finally believed my pain and was willing to help me.  I started Humira, Celebrex, Cymbalta, Prednisone and Flexaril. I can’t say that I am under control completely but the good days far out way the bad.

Thanks for creating a place where I finally feel included and not crazy for feeling the way I do

Texas United States of America

2 Responses to “A.S. Face 0820: Holly Rygaard”

  1. Dear Holly,
    Thank you so much for sharing your story with us.
    Sincerely Cookie

  2. Great story… So many AS sufferers have to go through so much in order to even get diagnosed and then to find the right medicines that will at least give us a little comfort… From then it’s next to impossible to get our family and friends to believe we live daily in order to survive.

    Jackie #741

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