A.S. Face 1739: Dawn Kelly
Hello, I’m a 39 year mother, wife and RN, who lives in beautiful Canada. I was only recently diagnosed with AS and my journey of being diagnosed with AS, is a long one.
Over the past ten years, I have had trouble with my back. It started with neck pain, shoulder etc. that I ignored in my twenties. It wasn’t until a night shift at the hospital in 2009, were I stood up from my chair to answer a call bell and severe sciatic pain stopped me in my tracks. There was no injury or strain, it just happened. I was off work for 12 weeks, with the recommendation of my employer. Eventually, the sciatic pain subsided enough for me to get on with my life.
The following years were filled with my attempts at fitness and exercise. Every class, workout I tried, I would end up in back or neck pain. I couldn’t understand why my body was so weak. So, I learned that I could only participate in yoga, swimming and walking without pain or injury.
Fast forward to having two healthy babies and relatively pain free period of time. I truly believe my pregnancies & subsequent breast feeding kept me in remission from AS.
Last year, I returned to work after a long maternity leave. I started to have hip pain & butt pain almost immediately. I was waking up in the mornings with extreme back stiffness and pain. It took a good 1-2 hours before the stiffness and pain subsided. So I went to Physio, massage and chiropractor thinking it was something I could fix. After 6 weeks of this pain and no improvement, I decided to go see my family physician. She prescribed an NSAID and suggested physiotherapy. I tried 3 different types of NSAID’s, among other medications, none of them providing relief from my symptoms. I finally decided to journal my symptoms and gave my physician a note with my exact symptoms.
In the mean time I ended up at the ER for abdominal pain. At the hospital they performed a CT scan, and it showed sclerotic lesions to the spine. To follow up I had a bone scan that showed active lesions but did not provide a diagnose. I was advised to “work on strengthening my core”.
By this point I was frustrated, angry and still in pain. My physician finally ordered a blood test to check HLA B27, for which I was positive. A referral to a rheumatologist was sent. The first rheumatologist refused my referral with a generic response about her being to busy to care for patients with fibromyalgia or chronic pain. So, a second referral was sent and thankfully I now have a great rheumatologist. He ordered an MRI of my spine and SI joints. The MRI showed AS in several areas of my spine including my S.I joints and concluded that there is evidence of an Acute on Chronic inflammatory spondyloarthropy. I was finally diagnosed with A.S after a full painful year. My BASDAI score is 7.4, so straight to the biologics we go. I’m very happy to have a diagnosis as it provides me with hope of pain and symptom relief.
I’m currently seeing an excellent physiotherapist twice a week and I’m learning stretches, postural moves and breathing techniques to use every day to ease the symptoms of my A.S.
I’m ready to conquer this chronic disease head on and I am so very grateful to be part of this group.