A.S. Face 1330: Brinkley Brown
My name is Brinkley Brown, and I am from Kentucky. I was diagnosed with Ankylosing Spondylitis in May 2014.
My back started bothering me in 2005. It started bothering me about 2 months after a car accident, and I always assumed that was why I had such a bad back. In 2007, a herniated disc at my L5/S1 joint kept me out of work for three weeks. Since that time, I have gone back and forth with lower back problems. My most recent MRI in 2011, showed slight to moderate herniation’s from my L3 down to my S1.
In December, 2009, I had my first case of uveitis/iristis. I woke up at the end of December and could not bear to open my eyes, it hurt so badly. I called my mom, who immediately got me into to see her Ophthalmologist. I heard my mom gasp when he mentioned “Seeing cells” in my eyes. She didn’t think I heard her until I said, this is what’s wrong with your eyes, isn’t it? Dr. Wallace answered for her, yep! Lights came on and here came the 1000 questions regarding my health, ending with a suggestion to get with my family doctor to rule out any auto-immune diseases. I was seeing a new family doctor at that time due to a recent move to a new town, and she ran me through the gambit of blood tests, RA, Lupus, etc. She also mentioned AS, due to my existing back problems, but everything came back normal (obviously she didn’t test for HLA-B27). So off I went, with a hope that I was one of the few who just randomly got uveitis. Of course, I knew that was very doubtful, seeing as mom has Reiter’s Syndrome (another of the spondy family), and it had taken about three years to diagnose hers. So in the back of my head, it was always just a time clock on when whatever I had, would show its face.
Since 2009, my uveitis has come back yearly. My uveitis flared up 3 times from December 2013 to March 2014. My family doctor had tried to get me to go to the rheumy last year, but seeing as I was having no real problems, I put it off. After the reoccurring uveitis flare up in December, I decided to bite the bullet and face what could be going on. Once again they did the full panel of blood work, but this time they also included the HLA-B27, and it came back positive. She gave me the spill….doesn’t necessarily mean anything, but let’s x-ray the SI joint to be sure. A week went by and I thought I was in the clear, then the call came a week later. On a scale of 0-4, I was a 2-3…Sclerosis in the SI joint, but no fusion. She sent me info on the treatments (Enbrel or Humira), and I made a follow up apt for two weeks later to discuss. Coincidently, some friends had been asking me to join a seven week fitness challenge at the gym, and to say I had been on the fence about it, would be an understatement. But after getting the diagnosis, and doing some research, I decided that challenge would be the best thing for me. During the first two weeks of the challenge, I gained 4cm of mobility in my back. So on my follow up apt, the rheumy decided that I could wait on the Enbrel at this time, and just keep continuing to do the anti-inflammatory meds, but if my eye flared again, I would have to start the Enbrel since the anti-inflammatory meds didn’t help control that. She said we’d x-ray again in 3-4 months and see if the sclerosis is any worse, and if it is, I would at that point have to start the Enbrel. So fingers crossed that I can continue to fight this with exercise.
Kentucky, United States of America