Bridget Ramirez

My name is Bridget Ramirez. I am 39yrs old and I have Ankylosing Spondylitis. I am not sure exactly how long I have had AS, but I am certain it goes as far back as childhood. My sacrum took a hard hit when I was a child. My cousin and I were pretending to be cheerleaders when I fell from her shoulders and landed straight on my sacrum. I remember that day vividly because the pain involved was like no other. That may have been the one incident that set my AS off. In junior high, I ran track despite having hip/lower back pain. At one point, I was hospitalized for a week for extreme hip/leg pain. The doctors couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me, so they said it “might” be tendinitis. The pain never went away fully and I always had some sort of lower back and hip pain since.
By my teenage years, it seemed to be normal for me to have trouble with my lower back. In fact, as I grew into adulthood, I saw so many doctors for my lower back but none truly helped me. They told me I was too young to have back problems and would prescribe pain medication to me. If I had a nickel for every time I heard that…pft! I would never need to play the lottery again! It was frustrating to me and I would crumble the prescription and toss it in the trash on the way out of the doctor’s office. There was one orthopedic years later (late 20’s) who saw a fusion on my lower back but never mentioned AS. He thought shots to the site would help…it didn’t.

I’ve always worked at least one job in my life and up to 3 jobs at one time when I was in my 20’s. I always thought that maybe my back hurt because the work was too hard on my body. Not true, by the way. I know that now.

Last year, my primary care physician & chiropractor suggested I see a rheumatologist, who ordered blood work, x-rays and MRI’s. Blood work showed HLAB-27 gene was positive. X-rays showed AS affecting my hips and sacrum in a not so nice way, hence the extreme pain in my hips. Rheumatologist prescribed a TNF blocker that I refused to take at the time. Have you seen the warnings label on that medication??!! Eeek!! As time went on, it became very difficult to walk most days. I was in so much pain, but powered through each day. In fact, if you crossed me in the grocery store, you would’ve never known the pain I was in. Over the last 32 yrs, I have become an excellent player in the mind over matter game. Things still need to get done, regardless, right? I may also be slightly stubborn! However, I’m certain that the song, “Believer” by Imagine Dragons was well written and is the story of my life. Pain certainly made me stronger and gave me a drive to power through each day. It became part of who I am and I’m not mad at it. Gave me some determination to get some serious stuff accomplished in my life. I always looked at it as a positive (I know, crazy huh?). It worked for me. I had grown up with pain so I didn’t know anything different. For about 32yrs…then I got tired of not being able to walk without wanting to scream from the pain.

It caught up with me and I gave in to the treatment. I have been on the TNF injections for about 2 1/2 months and it has been a game changer! I actually feel like myself again and can walk, run and bike ride like a champ. I am hoping this stays the same, but I also am aware of the risks of the TNF treatments. So, I keep a close eye on my body and pay attention to it more than I ever have these days. From one spoonie to another, stay strong, stay educated, power through whatever life tosses at you and don’t be afraid to try new things!

One Response to “Bridget Ramirez”

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

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