A.S. Face 0122: Brittney Brown

My name is Brittney and I am 26 years old. I am a wife, a mother to
three children ages 7, 5, and 3, work as a CNA at a hospital and
nursing home, and full-time student going for a nursing degree. I was
diagnosed in August 2011 with Ankylosing Spondylitis. I had never
heard of this disease before and was nervous. I did a lot of research
and found many of my symptoms and problems I have had over the years
all fit the description of AS. I’ve had numerous GI problems, scope
surgeries, ovarian cysts, problems during pregnancy with my siatic
nerve, liver shutting down, etc.

I was run over at the age of 9 and I attributed all of my back and hip
pain over the years to that accident. I had broken my pelvis and
tailbone and figured this is why my bones ached so bad. I had been
seeing an osteopath doctor for about a year who would manipulate my
back and hips and try to get the pain to decrease. The pain however,
was just getting worse and worse. Finally he sent me for x-rays and
showed inflammation around my SI joints. He then decided sending me
for a nuclear bone scan was the next step to see if there was more
going on. The nuclear bone scan showed inflammation around the SI
joints and inflammation along my spinal cord. I was sent to my primary
doctor with this new information and she ordered a test to check for
HLA-B27 and it came back positive. So there it finally was-a diagnosis
of Ankylosing Spondylitis. Now where did I go from here? I had never
heard of this disease before all I knew is that it was very painful
and had caused me to be out of work for three months already at this
point due to the severity of the pain. She put me on a high dose of
anti-inflammatories that did nothing to help. My diagnosis was in
August 2011 and it is now November and I still have received no real
help or answers on  how to manage my AS. I
saw a Rheumatoid Arthritis doctor in October and he sent for an MRI
and did blood work. My inflammation level was sky high, my ALT (liver)
functions were high (probably from over doing it on tylenol to try and
help with the pain), my BUN was high, and my MPV was low. The doctor
actually told me these were all normal, but I got a copy of the blood
test report myself and discovered all of this out after leaving his
office. The MRI showed no inflammation and just a cyst that I have on
my right ovary. The RA dr said I do not have AS and told me my
problems were womanly. I have been struggling to find a RA dr in this
area who I can see. I know my problems are not “womanly”.

I get bad muscle spasms in my neck and back, there are times when my
entire left side goes numb, weak, or tingly on me, I have severe
stiffness in the morning and at night, my sleep is very disrupted due
to the pain, and I get really bad migraines. There is a lot more going
on here and I need answers. I have an appointment next week with a
different RA doctor and am praying they will give me some answers. AS
is a confusing and scary diagnosis, and I need someone who can help
me. I will not let this disease defeat me. I have not been able to
return back to either job as a CNA yet, but I am still in school
pursuing a nursing career. I was recently accepted in to the National
Honor Society, Phi Theta Kappa, and I plan to continue on with my
education. AS will not defeat me or define me! I define myself!

West Paris, Maine  United States of America

4 Responses to “A.S. Face 0122: Brittney Brown”

  1. Dear Brittney,
    Thank you for sharing your story with us. Congratulation on being accepted in to the National Honor Society, Phi Theta Kappa. The best way to define your self as you already know is to educate your self about Ankylosing Spondylitis. Be your best advocate for your health. Ask questions and demand answers.
    Sincerely Cookie

    • Thank you Cookie. I go to see the RA doctor again tomorrow and I am praying to God that someone will just listen to me and help find the answers I need!

  2. I am sorry to hear you are still having a tough time getting answers. Sometimes you need to seek out multiple opinions before you find a doctor knowledgable enough. I had a neurosurgeon who first told me about the AS. I went to a rheumatologist in September, and despite my symptoms, elevated inflammatory levels, and + HLA B27, she said it’s not common in women and she didn’t think I had it. My insurance changed as of October 1st (a blessing in disguise) and I was unable to see her again, so I saw a new rheumy last week who said, without a doubt, that I have AS. I hope you have better luck with this next rheumy. As Cookie said, be your own advocate and never stop looking for answers.

    • Thank you Kim! I am praying I will find answers soon. I wont give up. I know there are serious issues going on inside my body and I will continue the fight for answers. My husband begins a new job in January and I believe our insurance should switch then. Hopefully I will be able to see a new RA dr as well when this happens. Blessings.

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