A.S. Face 0945: Stephanie

Face 945

My name is Stephanie, and I live in Columbus, Ohio.  It actually took me about 18 years from the first hint of back pain in 1996 to receiving a diagnoses in March 2013.

I guess my first hint of back pain was sciatica in 1996.  I would have to walk so slowly and hold the wall for balance while I walk as sharp pains shot through my lower back, hips, and legs.  I went to the doctor after having symptoms for a few weeks, and received an anti-inflammatory in addition to muscle relaxers.  The anti-inflammatory helped a little bit, but the muscle relaxer did nothing except for make me sleepy.  Within the next couple of years I developed pain in my neck and upper back.  When I tried to get up in the morning, I felt like my back was tearing apart.  Back I went to the doctor.  More anti Anti-inflammatories. More muscle relaxers.  Lather, rinse, repeat for the next few years.  I gave up on going to the doctor for back pain for many more years after this, because nothing was helping.  I started to accept that this pain was something that I would have to deal with.  I was always tired, and I thought maybe the paid was wearing me out.  I resigned myself to the feeling that I was growing very old before my time.

In late 2009, the pain in my back became so bad it was actually nauseating.  I found a new primary care physician who diagnosed me with fibromyalgia and degenerative disc disease (I have that too).  I had steriod shots in my back by a pain management doctor.  This pain management doctor was a really nice guy, but he told me that I was probably “just more sensitive to pain” than the next person.  Way to take this seriously!!!!

In 2010, I found a wonderful chiropractor.  He could feel that my spine and the tendons along my back were, in his words, “like a steel bar.”  He also said that I must have a very high tolerance for pain. He also said that my pain was “not my fault”.  I was so relieved to meet a doctor who didn’t think I was just being a big wuss!  I moved away from that chiropractor, and started seeing a different chiropractor.  This one had quite a bit of experience working with ankylosing spondylitis patients, and also said that the muscles and tendons in my back and elsewhere had a very strange and hardened feel to them, just like AS.

Soon after this, my hands started “freezing” and I was having a very hard time unbending my fingers on both sides. I also developed eczema, a problem that I hadn’t had with any severity until 2012.  I became worried that I had MS or some other autoimmune disease.  I decided to go to a rheumatologist in the hopes of getting some answers.  I got cortisone shots in my hands, an oral round of cortisone, a scheduled MRI and gave 6 tubes of blood for testing.  The results of all this came back with a borderline positive ANA, and HLA-B27 antigen, SI joint fusion and spinal edema (watery inflammation).  Strangely, I do have a watery and tender feeling around my spine those times when I am very ill.  I can feel it when I touch my back and even when I walk there is a weird “sloshy” sensation.

I work full time in accounting, and am taking classes in order to obtain my bachelor’s degree in accounting.  My job and school are both very stressful at times.  However, I am looking forward to trying Enbrel beginning within the next month.  I rely on God to get me through each and every day and having AS only helps me to push harder.

Ohio, United States of America

One Response to “A.S. Face 0945: Stephanie”

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

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