A.S. Face 1080: Lisa Hresko
Hello. My name is Lisa Hresko. I was diagnosed with AS about 2 1/2 years ago, but I have been suffering since childhood. I am 43 years old, and I have 2 beautiful daughters.
Unfortunately, after I was diagnosed, my daughters were tested and were both positive for the HLA-B27 gene. My youngest, 20, is very symptomatic and has had to have spine surgery this year to fuse 13 discs and insert 2 rods to straighten her spine. I have only required one joint surgery so far, to my jaw, when I was 17 years old.
I have pain every day and find that staying as active as possible helps to at least stay distracted. I am a homemaker, mom, wife, and college student. I am currently attending a local community college in pursuit of my AA degree in Art Education. I intend to continue my education and earn a masters degree in Art or Art Education.
Some days it is extremely difficult to work on my art, since my hands are so bad — painful and swollen almost all of the time. But, I have found ways to adapt and keep moving forward. I took prednisone for several years, until my blood pressure and blood sugar rose to a concerning level, and am currently in the process of testing to determine an appropriate treatment plan once again. I am hoping to be able to try the new medication that was specifically developed to target AS. I will find out next week.
The guilt that I feel for passing this horrific illness to my daughters is hard to manage, however, they are both so strong and positive every day. They inspire me to keep going and to never give up. Even when my youngest daughter is in the hospital for weeks on end, she stays extremely positive and reminds me that things could be worse for us both. She definitely has the worst of it out of the three of us. Her spine has already started to fuse itself together and her SI joints are very bad. Additionally, in March when she had 13 discs fused, the surgeon only used the extra bone from her spine to do the fusion, not needing to take anything from her hip or leg. He confirmed her diagnosis at that time.
While I struggle every day to live life, I also am thankful for my illness. It has forced me to view life with a unique outlook, humor, and a lot of patience. I believe that my illness has taught me so much and has allowed me to be a better person.
I have read many of the stories posted on the Faces of AS, and feel that I am very fortunate to be 43 years old and still able to walk on my own, even if it is painful. I have decided that I will not give up easily and that I will fight very hard to stay on my own two feet for as long as I can humanly and possibly fight.
My daughter will need additional spine surgery next year since her lumbar spine is compensating for the correction to the rest of her back. I do not look forward to watching her suffer through this, however, I know that these experiences are making her a stronger person. In a way, they are making me a stronger person too.
Once I am finished with my education, I hope to be able to teach high school Art for at least a bit before I become too sick or have too much pain to work. I have had to slow down on my pursuit of a college degree since my daughter’s illness has worsened and she requires more care. I try to balance as much as I can, but place a great deal of importance on my education.
Thank you for listening to my story. I think of you all often and pray that you find relief from your AS symptoms.
Maryland, United States of America