A.S. Face 1208: Kim Underwood

Face 1208

My name is Kim Underwood and I live in Indiana. I am a mom of 3 wonderful children ages 24, 21 and 14!! I am also a RN.  It took a long time for me to get the correct diagnosis.  It all started when I was 17, and had a bout of bloody diarrhea. I had several GI tests done and was diagnosed with IBS. I was graduating high school and getting ready to go to college.  I really didn’t take any medication for it because in 1986, really nothing to do for it. So I tried to control it with diet…not to well I might add.  My arthritis symptoms started in my late twenties.  I went to a rheumatologist because my knees were hurting and very swollen. He pulled the fluid off and ran a few tests and said I had osteoarthritis! At 28??? That was an ‘old person’ disease. Started taking NSAID’s and had some relief. But it seemed my arthritis was worse when my IBS was flaring…i always thought there was a connection between the two. I tried many different NSAID’s and COX-2 inhibitors but nothing really helped. Then I started having trouble with my back, in my lumbosacral area.  They told me it was sacroilitis. Another “old person” disease…or so I thought.  It was until about a year or two ago that I was having increased symptoms, headaches, fatigue that was not just your normal everyday kind, achy all over…i finally went to a different rheumatologist. Thought maybe I had lupus.  He ran a bunch of testing and HLBA23 was positive. Finally got the correct diagnosis, AS and he tried NSAID’s first and gave me some pain medication and treated me for low vitamin D. After my first follow up, I was still having tremendous pain and he started me on Sulfasalazine. He thought that my IBS had been misdiagnosed and felt that I add ulcerative colitis.  This medication treated both…we have been increasing the dose and also added Cymbalta. I am able to function but I work full time as a school nurse and have to take naps after work every day.  I have 3 children of my own and am working on trying to be the mother I used to be…i have a granddaughter that is 2 1/2 and the joy of my life. I just hope that their will be other treatments in the future that I will be able to live a more fulfilling life…As for now, I am doing the best that I can and trying to listen to my body and rest when I can!

Indiana, United States of America


3 Responses to “A.S. Face 1208: Kim Underwood”

  1. Hi Kim,
    Thanks for your story. I have not been diagnosed with AS but was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis in early 90’s (when I was 30 y/o) but had been seeing doctors for 2 years prior because was always feeling sub-par and fatigued – but of course no one had answers. My UC has remained in remission with Rx (Asacol). The aches and pains I felt (especially in the shoulders) made me feel like I was carrying a dead animal carcass around. As the years progress, the aches/pains and fatigue increase and stiffness sets in. My ANA is elevated but no further diagnosis from more detailed blood testing (and a HAL-B27 has not been done). I don’t know if I also have AS (but there does seem to be a heredity factor – as my grandfather suffered from it) but have now been diagnosed with osteoarthritis in my hands/fingers, feet/toes and lumbar area/hips (no further testing has been done but can’t help but wonder if AS is the cause. I’ve never been one to pop pills – even for cold relief and think the only thing that has been my saving grace was living a very active life (playing competitive tennis, long daily walks with my dog, and never stopped moving from morning to night) – even thru the fatigue. I no longer can tolerate the tennis on my knees and long walks just aggravate my feet and back. I avoid NSAID’s to prevent UC flare ups and rely on yoga and other exercising to work thru the stiffness. I no longer work FT nor work at a desk behind a computer all day to avoid the stiffness. I volunteer and work PT in sales so I don’t sit still. Find the yoga to really help.

    I really enjoy reading everyone’s stories – thanks for sharing yours.

  2. thanks for sharing your story. It sounds like you haven’t tried any of the biologics, they have been life changing for me and many others, maybe discuss with your rheumy – I’m surprised he/she hasn’t brought it up.

  3. Dear Kim,
    Thank you so much for sharing your story with us.
    Sincerely Cookie

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