A.S. Face 1075: Julie Walker Merkle

Face 1075I’ve had AS since I was 21…I wasn’t diagnosed until I was 27, after seeing numerous doctors.  Finally I was sent to a rheumatologist, and I do carry the gene and he found the damage in my SI joints and I was finally diagnosed.  Oddly enough, it felt like a bit of relief to finally know what was wrong with me.  I was on Mobic, a prescription NSAID for a couple of years and a week after I got married in 2007, I was rushed to the hospital and had emergency surgery to repair a perforated stomach and intestines caused by the medicine…I truly almost lost my life, infection had spread to my heart and I spent a couple of weeks in ICU and then in a regular room.  I went home with open wounds on my incision and couldn’t return to work for months.  I had two follow up surgeries.  With NSAIDs ruled out, I was put on pain management, spinal injections and pain meds.  Over a year ago, I fell into a deep abyss of depression and anxiety, a lot if it due to pain depression.  I gave up on myself and prior to that I was no longer able to work.  It hurt my marriage very badly, this disease is not one that even your partner can fully fathom.  I hope that our separation ends, but I’m just taking one day at a time.  It also hurt a lot of my friendships.  I stopped my pain meds over three months ago and started Humira a few weeks ago.  My SI joints are fused and I have significant damage to my lumbar spine, hips and knees.  My depression is so much better, I’ve been doing everything I can to better my physical, emotional and mental health, one step at a time, not knowing what each day will bring.  But living back home with family and having their support and some other extremely supportive family members and old and new friends helps.  I make it a point to try to laugh and smile, have fun, go out and enjoy the little things, because life can turn on a dime.

Julie Walker Merkle, 37 years old

New York, United States of America


6 Responses to “A.S. Face 1075: Julie Walker Merkle”

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

  2. Julie, hang in there ! Walk as much as you can for the rest of your life, and stretch afterwords. I’ve had AS for 37 years…still smiling and grimacing. Stop all wheat and gluten, that’s what triggers the antigens to create fusion.

  3. Julie, glad you are sharing. Sounds like you are doing everything right. Praying for you, my friend!
    -Nicole

  4. Julie, your story moved me to tears for so many reasons!! I to have AS I had my first flare at 17 but was not diagnosed until I was 32 and had so much damage by that time that pain is a constant companion! I understand what you are saying about the depression I was raised in a way that your work defined you and no matter what you just had to work harder and things would get better!! I tried for years I was a restaurant manager and worked at least 80 hours a week and lived on Ibuprofen and Vicodin and whatever else I could get my hands on to get me through the day. I was destroying my liver and my marriage! I did various other jobs after I got to the point where I just couldn’t handle the hours anymore, I ended up as a shop manager for a German only repair shop and actually loved the job my Dr had also prescribed me Methadone by this point it was incredible!! I didn’t hurt and I had energy I thought it was a miracle (more like a nightmare) I had to take more and more to get the same results, then one day my coworker jumped into a car that I was working at the front of he turned the key and it was in gear and jumped into and ontop of me!! I haven’t worked since and that was 2007. I am in much better shape now that I am on Remicade and am going to try to find some kind of work. Luckily I have a wonderful wife of 16 years and a 16 year old daughter although this disease has damaged our relationships we are working on it!! I have also got myself off Methadone my Dr said I am the first person he has seen do that on his own. I was just sick of being dependent on that stuff the withdrawal was awful but the feeling of pride for doing it is great!! I guess the point I am trying to make is I understand what you are going through!!

  5. Am still waiting for my face of as to go on you messaged me 3 weeks ago saying it will be up that day and its not could you let me no pls thanx xx

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