Audrey Largent

  Hi, my name is Audrey Largent and this is my journey with Ankylosing Spondylitis.

I am 53 & I feel I have so much to offer but AS has robbed me of most of life’s pleasures, hobbies & joys.  The most difficult part is watching the look of utter hopelessness and helplessness from my family & their inability to cope with what I am now no longer able to do. Loneliness, suffering in silence, trying to decipher what is actually wrong with a particular part of my anatomy at a particular part in time is as excruciating as the physical pain that AS brings.

AS has attacked my internal organs, vessels, ligaments, muscles, heart, lungs, intestines, and mostly my spine. I’ve had 2 Cervical fusions (C5-6-7 & C4-5), with C1-2-3, as well as the Thoracic area showing damage already.  I’ve also had a Lumbar fusion (L4-5) & my SI joints are damaged & inflamed, giving me an added pain bonus down my legs.  My shoulders are damaged.  My chest wall/ribcage swells so that it makes it difficult to breathe because my organs are constricted. I can’t stand for more than a few minutes.  I’ve had a DVT (Deep Vein Thrombosis) & PE (Pulmonary Embolism) & have been hospitalized 4 times in the last 1 ½ years.  My asthma is in constant flare & I don’t need to tell you what all these meds & inflammation have done to my stomach, liver & intestines.  I have not been without pain for as long as I can remember.  I live in pain 24/7 & haven’t had a good night sleep in years.  I have had serious & life threatening reactions to most of the medications that are used to treat the autoimmune diseases.  All I can take is prednisone & a few pain medications.  My life is a constant juggle of medical appointments, tests, trying to work, run a household, be a wife & mother & trying to keep it all together without falling apart. The fatigue is overwhelming.  My head (when not in a fog) still thinks that my body can still do what it used to be able to do and I get so frustrated & angry of being unable to do all the things I used to love to do.  My daily focus is trying to figure out how I will make it through the day & “when can I go lay down because I am so exhausted!”  I used to be outgoing, energetic, physically able to walk & exercise.  Now, I humble myself  & sheepishly ask the ones I love, to do things I SHOULD be able to do myself & I feel humiliated to do so.  Ankylosing Spondylitis is a whole body & life experience.  It consumes you & eats away at your dignity one little piece at a time. It is an invisible disease & people judge you harshly because they are unable to see the internal damage that you suffer.  “Why is she parked in the Handicap section? She can walk?”  “There is nothing that exercise won’t cure out of you!”  “You should be able to pick up the pace & do these things.  There’s nothing wrong with you!”  These are some of the comments I face daily while trying to cope with a debilitating disease that robs me of the joys of living.  But each morning, I awake & I take the challenge of living by the horns & say “AS, you will not beat me! I am still alive, I still exist, I still matter!  I will not give up!”  This is my story & I’m sticking to it!  J

This is a little poem I quickly wrote yesterday & I thought I’d share:

Pills, pills, pills,

Down the pike they go!

Spills, spills, spills,

My hands won’t have a go!

Doc, Doc, Doc,

Where is my magic cure?

Talk, talk, talk,

What a bunch of manure!

Bones, bones, bones,

Take me where I wanna go!

Groans, groans, groans,

No way, my lady, no!

Pills, pills, pills,

Down the pike they go!

Ills, ills, ills,

Would rather do-si-do!

Hastings, Florida United States of America

One Response to “Audrey Largent”

  1. Dear Audrey,
    Thank you so much for sharing your story with us. I love your attitude and LOVE your poem! It is amazing!

    Sincerely Cookie

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