A.S. Face 0848: Robert Bishop
Hello my name is Robert Bishop. I live in the state of Georgia in the USA. I was diagnosed with AS in 2010 after like many, I bounced from doctor to doctor, specialist to specialist trying to find an answer as to why I was in pain. Oh it started out simply enough. Some morning stiffness, being a little more sore than usual after a weekend waterskiing and wake boarding at the lake. I just chalked it up to getting older. However, over the next couple of years the aches, pains, and stiffness got exponentially worse. I developed insomnia and was having a hard time bending at the waist. My wife decided it was time to see a doctor. Over the next several years and doctors, I heard diagnoses that ranged from depression, to Fibromyalgia, to possible cancer. Tests and failed treatments would prove all those diagnoses wrong. Some doctors just scratched their head and said “I don’t know” while others accused me of exaggerating the pain. The whole time the stiffness and pain were getting worse. It got to the point to where I couldn’t sit or stand for long periods of time, I couldn’t walk around the grocery store without my hips screaming at me, and I wasn’t sleeping for days at a time because I couldn’t get comfortable enough to doze off. I finally gave in and went to see a pain management specialist. I figured if I couldn’t figure out what was causing the pain at least I could try to manage it. Fortunately, I didn’t go to one that just slings pills. He seemed to genuinely care, and ran every test and image my insurance would cover. His philosophy was there was a reason for my pain and we were going to find it. The images showed bulging and herniated disks, and stenosis. He had no idea how other doctors had missed it. Since I had never had an injury, he immediately referred me to a Rheumatologist. The one type of specialist I hadn’t seen. The rheumatologist confirmed what the pain doc had found and did more bloodwork. I tested positive for HLA-B27 and got my official diagnosis of AS. Since then I have had multiple radio frequency ablations, a spinal cord stimulator installed, and a laminectomy. I have been on several oral pain killers, muscle relaxers, and Neurontin. We have tried Humira injections and Remicaide infusions with little success of stopping the progression or the pain. Fortunately, I have a wonderful family, an extremely caring and patient wife, a few really good friends, and one great doctor who treats me like a patient and not a copayment. I have two beautiful daughters that help me keep going and give me a reason to crawl out of bed.
I keep in mind that everyone has their battles and believe it or not it could be worse. I believe there is a plan or reason for each and every person’s existence. We just may not always know or understand what that plan is.
Finding this page as well as the spondylitis.org website has been a godsend. It’s good to hear from others and see that we’re not alone in this and it has shown me the importance if educating others about this debilitating disease. AS is far too misunderstood as well as those who suffer with it and it’s time people knew what it is and how life changing it can be.
Georgia, United States of America