A.S. Face 1832: Lauren Walker


Hello, my name is Lauren Walker and I was diagnosed with Ankylosing Spondylitis in 2016 after 6 very long years. In addition to A.S., I have been diagnosed with DDD, Fibromyalgia, Lyme disease, and Psoriatic Arthritis. The path to a diagnosis was full of frustration, anger, depression, and confusion that impacted my health, marriage, job and relationships with friends and family. It almost makes you feel like you are crazy but you are not. I really started to notice something was wrong when I was getting very sharp pains around my ribs that would tighten up making it hard to breathe. I was first told it was stress, or in my head but I knew there was something more to it. After being diagnosed with Fibromyalgia my doctor finally caved and did an MRI of my Thoracic Spine. The report came back with four herniated discs from T6 to T10. My doctor said that having one herniated thoracic disc odds are one in a million but having four blew them away. Every doctor asked if I was ever involved in some kind of trauma but I never was or had a sense of why this happened.
I eventually was referred to an amazing neurosurgeon who honestly changed my life. I broke down crying during our first appointment about how I am so miserable and nobody will listen to me. I kind of scared the poor man but he then took action and put me on the right path to an answer. He ran blood work and scans which came back positive for Lyme disease and dangerously high levels of inflammation. He referred me to my second hero my Rheumatologist who spent two hours with me giving me the diagnosis and the answer I’ve been searching for. I was so happy to finally know what I am fighting and now know how I can fight it.
The past 2 years have been difficult and dramatically changed my life. I’m on a better treatment plan that has given me peace of mind that I’m not crazy, which is how some people in your life will rush to that conclusion. It was eye-opening for me watching those I was close with turn their backs on me all while going through such a hard time. The most important part is surrounding yourself with positive supportive friends and family, even it means a divorce in my case. My new mission in life is to help raise awareness and finding life-changing tools to help this disease since it’s as of today un-curable. After a period of time, I thought I would never work again but I was fortunate to have found a rewarding job in the medical field that gives me the opportunity to help patients going through similar struggles with a better understanding and support. Another huge struggle with Ankylosing Spondylitis is how much it affects your mental health. There are very few days when you feel normal and accepting the fact that you are not able to be the person you were prior is a difficult thing to face. I found it important to grieve the loss of certain dreams and goals I once had and have accepted that it may no longer be possible to do. The silver lining to all of this is redefining who you are and finding your new path in life. It’s easy to feel cheated in life but it has made me stronger I wouldn’t change it for the world. My only thought to those without the disorder is that you must understand that we are in pain, dealing with phases of anxiety and depression all while fighting for somewhat of a normal life. There is no cure so “get better soon” doesn’t even cover it but we appreciate the thought.

Pennsylvania, United States of America

One Response to “A.S. Face 1832: Lauren Walker”

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

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