A.S. Face 0944: Hilary

Face 944

My name is Hilary and I am 22 years young. For as long as I can remember I have always suffered from neck pain. At the age of 10 I found my passion for Muay Thai and began training religiously. By the time I was 15 I was fighting for the best team in North America and training with the best coach world wide. I continued to train and live life to the fullest, and get my first job as a nursing assistant. While all this was going on my body still hurt and my neck only seem to feel worse. I thought my body hurt because my job was physically straining and from training for a combat sport for years. When I quit training right after high school to go to nursing school my body still hurt. I was diagnosed with GERD and IBS, felt sick often and just becoming depressed on how stressful life was and how I didn’t feel healthy although I take care of myself better than anyone else I know. Last August my achilles tendon started to hurt very badly and became inflamed. I thought I just hurt it running one day. Nope, they achilles discomfort conitnued. Then this past January my index finger, and feet became EXTREMLEY swollen and VERY painful. In my last semester of school, working in an ICU this almost made me quit my job. By February I developed a butt-kicking case of iritis. After seeing an opthamologist I was reffered to a rhuematologist. After a history, physical, and labs, I was diagnosed with AS. 2013 has been life changing, painful, challenging, and depressing. I no longer can do sports, run outside, or have energy to go out and have fun some days. As a new nurse in the ICU I am mentally stressed and AS makes is much more difficult. My body cannot keep up with the pace of the ICU and mentally that is killing me. This week I am starting Methotrexate therapy hoping it will help. AS has consumed me for months now and all I want is to find peace and have a healthy mindset again. Most of all I wish people looking at me thinking I appear healthy would understand and not prejudge me.

Thank You for letting me share my story here, YOU ALL are very touching and a great resource for education and awareness.

Wisconsin, United States of America

6 Responses to “A.S. Face 0944: Hilary”

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

  2. Hi Hillary, this is Derek, and I’m 53 years OOOllldd…LOL. And I’m feeling it today (I really feel the AS when the wind blows…low pressure system…and I live on the Northern plains!)

    First off….you got your diagnosis…that’s good right! Ya can’t cure what ya can’t diagnose. (an ophthalmologist diagnosed me). And Hon…you got an EARLY diagnosis…there’s hundreds of FACES stories that show that’s VERY important. So right off the bat I’d say things are looking up…don’t ya think. You’re gonna nip this in the bud before any real damage is done.

    Second …Our worse fears seldom come to pass. I remember a time right after the “diagnosis euphoria” wore off when I was sitting alone at night (it’s always at night), staring into the Abyss and “realizing” this was never going to go away. Pure uncut terror. Well, that was crap. 13 years later AS is an old act. AS motivated me to pursue other dreams I had…and I’m happy with how those dreams have turned out today. God blows the wind…but YOU steer the boat. Use AS to motivate you. (PS..I have my down days too–LOL)

    Third…A good friend of mine has horrible RA. He pretty much left it untreated for 25 years. I turned him on to my rheumy. I hadn’t seen him for awhile and ran into him at a funeral…he came up to me and whispered, “I’ve got one thing to say…Methotrexate.” It gave him his life back. And if that don’t work…Enbrel gave mine back.

    Fourth…(don’t I ever shut up!). You work for a hospital! AS makes even doctors shudder…they’ll understand. Another “old friend” was an RN who developed bad “Osteo.” The Rhuemy sent a letter and the hospital found her a rewarding desk job. IF…and that’s a BIG if…it comes to that. Which I don’t think it will.

  3. Hilary, your story has really touched me. All these faces and stories touch me but your esp touched me. I am a 46 yr old ICU nurse and recently quit my job after suffering with all this pain and I couldn’t keep up with the demands of the unit. I worked 14 yrs in the ER which I thought I’d never leave that unit but after a yr after of symptoms, I thought changing to the unit would be easier. It was there that I felt at home and having to quite was the a difficult decision. I am hoping a change in medication. With help me continue the nursin life. As for you I also home medications help you. Good luck and God Bless.

  4. Dear Hilary,
    I have a lot in common with you as far as a combat fighting background in my late 20’s and early 30’s, not realizing all along I was suffering from AS. And, like Derek, I’m now in my early 50’s! I’ve lived with AS for more than 30 years now. First, let me say that you are so lucky that you have been properly diagnosed at such a young age. Don’t let this diagnosis get you down. You can live a very active and happy life. It may not be exactly what you had planned for yourself and you may not be able to do what you used to do, but, you can still do a lot!!!! You just have to readjust your mind to accept a few limitations your body has now. As you know from your martial arts background, your attitude will greatly affect your outcome. Staying mentally strong is most of the battle. Remicade gave me my life back and you will find the right medication for your body. Nutrition is key as well. Good luck and stay strong.

  5. Hey Hillary,

    As a martial artist who also has AS, I can see where you’re coming from stress and frustration-wise. I can no longer compete in tournaments because mid-level kicks jar my spine too much (my fusion has started in the mid-back, but the inflammation started in the sacroiliac).

    The best thing you could do right now is take up something just as active but not as wearing on the body. I’m starting swimming to strengthen my core, and I keep doing TKD (WTF Style) when I’m able. Don’t give in, don’t give up, and know there are always people who may not quite understand, but are willing to try and support you 🙂


    A fellow martial artist

  6. God bless you. I don’t share this diagnosis but have other pain issues that are frustrating 😃prayer, mediation, walking, proper sleep eleminate caffiene ( it is scientifically proven to cause inflammation and muscle pain) and a good B complex each day DOES make a difference. Most if all, keep finding joy and new learning experiences! My husband is an MD I’m a biochemist, looks like they are starting you on an excellent regimen! Communicate often with your doc, and let him now your ability to function daily (if it decreases etc) so they can adjust meds for you. ❤️

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