A.S. Face 1243: Amy Hicks
I first began having pain in my very early 20s. I went to my primary doctor and she told me it was a pulled muscle and gave me pain pills and sent me on my way with the “come see me in a few weeks if it still bothers you”. I didn’t last a few weeks, I was back in her office by the end of that same week. She then decided to send me for blood work and an xray. Results came back and, besides a vitamin d deficiency, everything was normal. I left the appointment with no more information I had gone in with. A pain pill prescription and out the door I went. I decided to give her one more chance before I sought another opinion. A month after I had originally gone to seek help I was back to her office for the final time. She told me to try physical therapy to see if that could possibly help. I reluctantly agreed and off I went for 2 months of physical therapy. I was attending 3 sessions of 1 hr long treatments a week for 8 weeks. I do admit that it helped, but not as much as it probably should have. So after the treatment was finished and I was better but still hurting daily I sought out a different doctor in the same practice as my previous physician. Unfortunatly he turned out to be worse than she had been. At this point I was about 3-4 months into my “condition” and no one had given me any useful information. He wanted to send me for MORE physical therapy! I asked why more when the first round did me little to no good…He had no answer for that question. So he handed me another round of pain pills and an MRI. A few weeks later I returned for the results and got the first “there’s nothing wrong with you” speech. I couldn’t say too much since I had no clue what could be wrong with me and I looked to, and trusted that these two medical professionals knew what they were talking about. So suffered, for the most part, in silence for the next 5 long years until I woke up and couldn’t walk. Each time I tried to put weight on my legs they collapsed underneath me. I was scared out of my mind so I went to the ER. More xrays, scans blood work and a very insulting er doctor who was the first to tell me it was in my head and I was making it up. Still no answers, and thought that I was going nuts I again sucked up the pain and frustration for a few more years. From all the pain and aggravation and stress of life plus my physical problems I went into depression, and sought the same doctor I had seen for a second opinion on my back pain. I explained my symptoms and the fact that I was always exhausted and cried frequently to cope with my stress. He was so kind to inform me that if he had a magic pill for every person he saw with my problems he would be writing scrips out all day long.
I had hit my ceiling at that point. I left that practice and went for a third opinion for my back and a second opinion for my depression. I was very lucky and extremely grateful to have found my current primary care physician. She spent 2 hours talking with me and looking at tests and scans and xrays. She asked me to go for one simple blood test..hla-b27. I came back positive for this marker. She called me with the results and suggested I seek out a rheumatologist. She was kind enough to recommend a group practice. I went and saw the first of 2 doctors at this group. She informed me that my hla-b27 status had nothing to do with what I was seeing her for. She told me I have arthritis and that’s it. She prescribed me methotrexate and I started taking it. I had taken it for about a month, my hair started to fall out and I noticed no improvement. It was at this point I lost my job so I had to halt all treatment with no insurance I couldn’t afford to continue. I was out of work for 5 months, after I had insurance again I went back to see my specialist to resume my treatment. She no longer wanted to do the methotrexate. I got sent for xrays and MRI imaging. I went back for a follow up for the results with the “in your head, nothing wrong with you” diagnosis. I then got frustrated and returned to my primary physician. She recommended a different doctor who had recently joined the same group. I went back again, prepared for the same treatment. I was pleasantly surprised when he went through all my records and came out with “have you ever heard of anklyosing spondylitis?” I, of course, said no and proceeded to tell me all the information he could think of regarding this disease and all my questions got answered. He immediately wanted to start a course of treatment which included Humira and Mobic. I’ve been officially diagnosed with AS for 18 months and been taking my medication as directed and I feel a million times better than I had since the pain reared it’s ugly head. I’m very thankful for all the support and advice I have received from all my fellow AS warriors!!
Pennsylvania, United States of America