It is with mixed emotions that I am doing this. Perhaps because I was only recently diagnosed with AS – it still feels unreal even though the everyday stiffness and constant pain are full blown reminders.
I am 45 years old.
As long as I can remember I suffered from back pain. Sometimes when the pain got too much, I would visit the doctor who would prescribed either pain killers, physiotherapy or both. During the past years, x-rays was taken, scans was done as well as sonars. It always came back clear. At one point I was to reluctant to go to the doctor and would take pain killers that were easily obtainable over the counter. I started thinking that there is something mentally wrong with me. How could I experience pain if all the tests come back clear?
We purchased another bed and orthopaedic matrass. I changed my body posture while sitting, sleeping, bending etc. With no relieve at all.
I got so use to the constant back pain. I think it was a “mind over matter” situation.
About a year ago my left heal started to pain. At first I thought I sprained my ankle. It got worse and worse. I took pain killers and applied hot and cold therapy together with anti-inflammatory cream. Sometimes it felt better, but it got worse.
I had a Hysterectomy November 2011 and while in hospital contracted Pneumonia. I was seriously ill. Luckily we went on our yearly holiday in December 2011. For some reason the back pain and pain in my feet was severe. I also got small spike like pains in my chest. I did not take very much notice of it – I thought it was still a side effect from the operation and pneumonia.
In February 2012, I visited an orthopaedic surgeon. He did some tests including blood test – HLA B27. At first he thought it was Rheumatoid Arthritis and requested more blood work. He referred me to a Rheumatologist. You won’t believe … in our city there is five Rheumatologists and all are female. They were fully booked months in advance. I got an appointment with one after a cancelation from another patient. My Rheumatologist did a thorough examination, requested more blood work and I was diagnosed with Ankylosing Spondylitis on 23 May 2012. She gave me a script for tablets that I never heard of, gave me her mobile nr and set another appointment for 27 August 2012. She also suggested inner soles ( which I got together with night splints for my feet) and water therapy. I went for water therapy in the first month, twice a week. Then I contracted pneumonia again. Only then did I realised that this disease breaks down my immune system.
On top of all the prescribed medication, I am taking a hand full of vitamins as well.
With my last visit she changed my medication, because the first batch was not really helping. And I can still not see any changes. I am still in constant pain – more joints are affected every day. Some days I don’t even want to get up. Most of the time it takes me about half an hour to get mobile enough to move around with comfort. But sometimes the pain gets to me.
I can’t let this disease get me down. I have such a supportive husband and two lovely teenagers. But sometimes I do wonder, don’t they get fed-up with my constant complaints about pain, Shuffling like an old woman, go to bed early and not running and playing like I use to.
My next appointment with the Rheumatologist will be end November 2012. Both my children must get tested before then. I really hope they test negative, because this is not something I wish on any of them.
Please find attached a picture taken of me in 2010. Due to the high dosages of cortisones taken in the last 4 months as well as the lack of exercise, I gained about 15 kg. I use to be quite active and love the outdoors.
I would appreciate if you get stay in touch with me. In South Africa it seems as if the knowledge about this illness is still in its baby shoes.
Go well and good luck with the program.