A.S. Face 0959: Valerie Barron
My name is Valerie Barron, I’m 23 (almost 24) years old and I was diagnosed with ankylosing spondylitis in 2010 when I was 20. I didn’t really start having problems until I was about 17 or 18. I already knew what it was before they diagnosed me because my dad (Bobby Barron) was diagnosed with it only a few years before me. I never imagined that it would get passed down to me, because for the most I had always been very healthy. Also every time my parents would talk to doctors about the possibility of me or my brother having this disease they always tried comforting my parents by saying it was highly unlikely that I would have it since I was a girl. So when I started having some problems with my hips and stuff, I just assumed it from something else that wasn’t so serious and just needed a quick and easy fix. I went to my doctor for some pain in my hip that was making it where I couldn’t walk, while examining me he decided to do some blood work. He noticed something abnormal on my blood test, and because of that and the pain he referred me to a rheumatologist. I still remember sitting in my rheumatologist’s office when he said that I have AS. I was in shock and I couldn’t believe it. This wasn’t supposed to happen to me, I was the girl. I managed to not cry while in the doctors office but once I got to my mom’s car I lost it. It felt like my whole world just fell apart. I had seen what this disease did to my dad and I knew what it was going to do me. I had no idea how i was going to handle it because I’m no where near as strong as my dad. I thought at first I would have to give up everything; forget being a nurse, traveling the world, and even my most precious dream of getting married and having a family. For a few weeks I gave up. I just cried and asked “why me?” It wasn’t fair to be so young and be given a diagnosis with very little or no hope. But then one day I realized, with the help of my family and some other people, that I had to stop feeling so sorry for myself because there were still ways that I was blessed. Because I was diagnosed so early, I’ve gotten really good treatment. I have the most amazing rheumatologist in the world. I believe he has helped me to possibly go into some sort of remission because I very rarely hurt any more. Also I have always had my dad for support, I could go to him and he always knew exactly how I was feeling. Not only does he understand my pain and fatigue, but he also gets other problems that go with it. My mom is great too because she cares for both me and my dad, and is very understanding of our pain. I have realized too that I don’t have to give up everything like what I thought I had too, I’m still trying to be a nurse and I’m going to travel one day. I have even started thinking about working for a rheumatologist once I do become an RN, because by having this I will be able to relate to my patients and give them better care. I have lost some friends because they were unable to understand what I deal with, but at the same time I have gained some even more amazing friends. Anyways through this I have learned to stay positive and always hope for the best even when it’s the hardest to do so.
Texas, United States of America