A.S. Face 1762: Brenda Berger


I am a 43 year old single mother.  I was diagnosed with Ankylosing Spondylitis August if 2016,  However, the journey to diagnosis was brutal.

     Around the age of 33 I started to have severe lower back pain.  Until last year, I can’t count the number of doctors, the number of ER visits, the number of procedures including but not limited to: MRI, X-Ray, Spinal Tap.  Some multiple times going from one doctor to the next.  In September of 2015 I was diagnosed with Epstein Bar (mono) along with Gerd (terrible acid reflux).  We thought that was it at the time, but then…the burning in the spine, the twitching all over my body.  My doctor finally told me I had “pissed of body syndrome”.  Can you believe it?  Me neither.  I started to work with a nutritionist eliminating all inflamatory agents.  This includes: beans, gluten, rice, potatoes, limiting sugars.  Yet, the pain persisted and worsened.
     Unfortunately, my son (age 9 now, 2017) has been the one to see me struggle through the pain, trying to hide the tears, but he catching me anyway.  Trying to find a place for him to stay while yet again an ER visit or another mad dash to the dr. from such severe pain.  Falling into bed after work, not able to make dinner, hardly able to goto the grocery store.  Getting chills never knowing why.  People telling me it was “all in my head”.  My 23 yr old daughter moved in with me last October.  She hadn’t realized the severity of my suffering until she saw me collapse nightly with heavy pain  meds not making a dent.  She was very comforting to have home.
     Thankfully, a dear friend sent me to an angel.  My rhuematologist Dr. Abigail Neiman.  After blood work from the first visit, the second visit she diagnosed me.  That day, she started treatment.  Due to the severity of the illness, not only am I on Enbrel, also Methotrexate (Chemo).  Both injections due to stomach issues.  And…still, not enough relief.  Finally, just a month ago, I went to a Pain Dr. and she is helping tremendously.
     I can’t fathom where my life would be right now had it not been for Dr. Neiman.  I thank G-d every day for her.  While although this illness is not curable, I am thankful that now I am more involved in my sons life and he is able to see a stronger mother who is capable of helping him with his homework.  This disease is full of possible problems from spine fusion to organ damage.  The chemo is not a cure, but a maintenance for pain.  I cherish the good days, survive the bad, but thank G-d for it all.
Brenda Berger
Texas, United States of America

3 Responses to “A.S. Face 1762: Brenda Berger”

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

  2. I feel for you dear friend! Chronic illness is a long, lonely, difficult struggle. I’m hoping I can be “a shoulder” to lean on, “an ear” to listen, and that my personal experiences with chronic illness may help you (even if it’s only a little) through your own challenges. You are a beautiful person inside and out and I absolutely hate that you’re going through this. Keep venting and expressing yourself. It helps to get it out even if others cannot understand your personal struggles. Love & hugs! Laura

  3. Thank you Cookie for helping us share our stories. It really helps
    Laura – your support, care, and shoulder have helped already!!

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