A.S. Face 1110: Chrissy Pantlin
I woke up one morning when I was around 11 or 12, with my knees all swollen and puffy! I tried to stand up out of bed and it really hurt!! The local GP said “ah yes, very common in girls your age who play soccer, go home and rest”!!! Well, the knees never really did get better, just became manageable with lots of physio and ice and taping! Fast forward to the age of 18 and I started to get this low back pain that seemed to radiate down my leg and in to my lower abdomen/groin area. Lots of Drs telling me it was nothing, see a shrink, have some happy pills, it’s “women’s pain”, learn to live with it…. Started to develop neck pain as well. Age 25, told I have a herniated disc, will heal with physio. Do physio religiously, again, learn to manage it but never went away. Then the shoulders decided to jump in – pain increasing, swelling, scans show supraspinatus tendonitis and bursitis in both shoulders at the same time! Steroid injections don’t help, lots of physio, lots of ice, lots of taping, after 6 months, slowly starts to settle but always there in the background….next it was the elbows….back pain increasing – more happy pills, more shrink appointments, more being fobbed off….foot pain – random broken foot, no reason, no incident that caused it….ankle starts hurting, scan shows arthritis in ankle….wrists and hands start to hurt and swell…GP says to monitor…back getting really bad, new MRI now shows 4 herniated discs in lumbar….go to new chiro for my neck who says “this isn’t normal Chrissy”!! GP finally says OK to referral to a rheumatologist and suddenly, I’m told I have this thing called Ankylosying Spondylitis – this was 15 months ago, age 32. Relief at having an answer, devastation at a lifelong progressive illness with no cure. Finally full spinal MRI, spine is a mess. I have just undergone a single level spinal fusion at L5/S1 four weeks ago, as I was losing the ability to walk and had given up everything I loved – all I did was drag myself to work then home to rest and sleep, it was all I was able to do. I had given up the will to live.
The photo is of me and my husband – my rock, my soulmate, my everything. That was in happier times when I could fight through the pain and live a little!! I am hoping that my surgery will allow us to get back to some of the things we love – I don’t expect to be able to do everything, but I want to feel like I am living again, not just existing – I want to be able to look back in years to come on fun things, happy times, special moments that I shared with my husband, who gets me through all the tears, the pain, the frustration, the anger, the resentment…. I will not let AS beat me!!!
Chrissy Pantlin Queensland, Australia