A.S. Face 1561: Gina Catalano
My name is Gina Catalano. My journey with AS began in 2009. I began experiencing neck pain. As the weeks went on, this pain spread down my back and legs. I saw specialist after specialist. Orthopedic surgeons, physical therapists, massage therapists, you name it. I received shots of cortisone, trigger point therapy and even inserts in my shoes. I tried a gluten free diet. I kept up with massage therapy wondering the whole time, “was there something else going on?” I saw my first rheumatologist in 2011 and was diagnosed with fibromyalgia. Ok. We were getting somewhere. I was put on some different medications and sent on my way. The only thing that truly helped was the continued use of trigger point therapy. Then I got pregnant. During my pregnancy my trigger points calmed down, but I developed a lot of pain in my hips and lower back. But I thought that was normal for pregnant women. I had my beautiful son in 2012. The pain and fatigue increased from that point on. As did anxiety, depression and a general sense of helplessness. This continued for 2 years. In 2014 I saw my 2nd rheumatologist. He began treating for fibromyalgia, but soon realized there was something else going on. I hadn’t had x-rays since 2009. New x-rays showed inflammation of my SI joints. Blood work showed positive for inflammatory markers, but negative for HLA-B27. By systematically ruling out other diseases, as well as the presence of inflammation in the SI joints, I was diagnosed with ankylosing spondylitis. Since being diagnosed I have been receiving infusions of Remicade. After 2 treatments I began losing my hair. So I shaved it 🙂 I will not let my disease define me. I know what I can and can’t do. And I hold hope for a cure.
Ohio, United States of America