A.S. Face 0903: Helena
In 2002 I was a young adventurous woman exploring Europe and having a blast. I was in Austria and decided to go cliff jumping. Despite my fear I jumped from a 12 meter cliff, landing on my side. I had instant pain in my ribs and back. I eventually went to the doctor, but they said everything seemed ok. However, I was never the same again. I had back pain from that day forward. In 2008 I started working in my chosen field as an X-ray and MRI technologist and my right knee just kept swelling for no apparent reason. It wasn’t too bad, just kindof annoying. I went to a Sports med Dr. who referred me to a Rheumatologist. He said that I had “Palindromic Arthritis” A few years went by and I met my now husband. On our honeymoon my knee started swelling again; this time it was different. It swelled so bad that it was rock hard and very agonizing. I went back to the Rheumatologist and this time I also complained about my constant back and rib pain. She changed my diagnosis to AS after seeing sacroilitis on an MRI. I am now taking Humira to control the swelling and also take Cymbalta, for depression and pain. I also have Interstitial Cystitis, which is a chronic bladder disease where the lining of my bladder doesn’t regenerate properly. Usually if its not my back bothering me, its my bladder. I am still working mostly full time. I use my experience with chronic illness as a way to connect with my X-ray and MRI patients. No one can understand what chronic illness is like until you have lived it yourself. In the future I think I would like to become a yoga teacher so that I can help others even more. It will help me to make sense of it all, because I truly do not understand why stuff like this happens. I am blessed to have my husband who is an amazing support and I also have a fur baby named Sophie, who is the second love of my life.
British Columbia, Canada