A.S. Face 1317: Russell Farris

Face 1317



Since I was 16 years old I had periodic intense pain in my lumbar. The doctors always diagnosed it as lumbar sprain. 15 years ago, it got so bad that I was down for almost 2 years. Every time it seemed to get a little better, I would take a giant step back. I felt like my doctor at the time thought I was faking my pain to get out of work. He eventually ordered the HLA-B27 test. I never got the results at that time because I changed doctors right after. I gradually got better, but would still have big flareups from time to time and I settled into what I call a “comfortable” level of pain. Then early 2013, it started getting worse. I couldn’t sit or stand still for almost any time at all with out grave pain. My hips and ribs were now hurting too. And my eyes… I’d always been light sensitive, but now they just hurt all the time. I finally went back to the doctor expecting to be told I had another lumbar sprain. After X-rays my doctor said “I’m not sure what I’m looking at!” He sent me to an Orthopedic surgeon. Who in turn sent me to a neurologist. Who then sent me to a rheumatologist. Eventually I was diagnosed with ankylosing spondylitis. Currently, only my lumbar has significant fusion. With traces on my ribs, and some spurs on my hips. I started Remicade a few months ago which seems to help with the inflammation. I have had one major complication though. I fractured one of my fusions in my lumbar, which left bony material floating around. Which left me in quite a bit of pain when they got into the nerves. A few days ago I was treated for the first time with RF ablation. I’m full of hope that this will finally give me some relief. At times it has seems like dealing with the extreme physical pain has become secondary to the mental and emotional toll I know that we have all endured. When nobody but our fellow spondy’s know how we feel. We get tired of people always asking us how we feel, then we get upset when they stop asking. Or when people try to compare your pain to their backache… And you know they just don’t get it. We miss out on so much of life because we can’t even find the energy to get out of bed. The sleepless nights. All the people who think you’re just lazy. The list goes on and on. But I have finally come to a place where I am not going to let this disease define who I am. I have AS, It doesn’t have me! The only way to keep from fusing is to keep moving. So that’s exactly what I aim to do. God grace is sufficient in all things, and I know that everything can be used for His glory!

Texas, United States of America

2 Responses to “A.S. Face 1317: Russell Farris”

  1. Dear Russell,
    Thank you so much for sharing your story with us.
    Sincerely Cookie

  2. Russell: I have to admit that I found a lot of similarities between your AS story and mine. Yours seem to have a bit more severity of symptoms than mine, although I have woken up and not been able to walk. My rheumatologist does not seem to like people to be on disability or stop trying medications that, more often than not, do not work. I will ‘keep on keeping on’ until I can’t go any further. Some days I am very afraid. Other days, when I am feeling ok, I think, ‘I can deal this this one minute at a time.’ No one asks me how I am feeling or doing–they just tell me they know how I feel from their own back aches. Yeah, right! I just want to scream! I see you have a loyal and faithful furry friend with you. I have three such friends at home who will listen when I need them to, and give me unconditional love, too. I wish you all the best in dealing with your AS, and I hope you will find some relief from all the pain you are dealing with.
    Sincerely, Stephania #445

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