Cherryl Dean Holton

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I was born Cherryl Dean Holton. I’m 55 years old. I remember being a healthy child. I only had the normal childhood illnesses. However, I remember, at times my legs hurting. I was always told it was growing pains. I played baseball, throughout my jr. and high school years and was quite an accomplished athlete. Won district champ 4 years, in a row. I was quite the tomboy, as I was raised, with all males. At the age of 13 I remember my knee locked up and I was unable, to straighten it out. After a day, of this my mother brought me to an orthopedic dr. The dr was rather stumped, because he said I had a “football players” injury, that was not seen in females. This was in 1972. This is when I had my first knee surgery, to repair a torn meniscus. Of course, when you’re young you tend to heal fast, so it didn’t hold me up, for long. After this incident I was pretty healthy, until I had a battle, with cancer. I had major surgery, for cancer, in 1988, at the age, of 29. I’m proud, to say “I am a cancer survivor.”   After getting over the surgery I felt the best I had felt, in years.  In 1990 I was working, in the trucking industry and met an amazing man {or so I thought}, who was to become “the love of my life.”  After 2 years of dating I finally agreed to marry him. He was wonderful, to my children, which was the most important ting to me. For the first time in my life I was actually allowed the option to work, or not to work and stay home with and enjoy my children. I took a couple years off work, to do so. In 1993 I decided I needed, to go back, to work, for myself. I was always a high achiever and not working just wasn’t enough. I went to work driving trucks, again, but locally, so that I could be home every night, with my children. Within 2 months I was offered the position, of management. I really didn’t want to manage a company, but I thought why not? It was the highest position, in the company. I had 19 employees, under me. In early 1994 I started getting sick. First with a jawbone infection. My weight plummeted to 103lbs. I was a workaholic working between 60-80 hours a week. I really loved my job and the rewards it brought, with it. At the time I was only seeing my PCP, for the ordinary things. He mentioned I needed to quit work. That surprised me, as I didn’t think anything was wrong, that warranted quitting work. From the time I had this jawbone infection I never felt quite well, or right again. At the time I was also in litigation, for a medical suit, due to breast implants.  My attorney noticed different symptoms and told me he thought I had fibromyalgia. At that time the only thing about fibromyalgia as an article written by a dr/patient. Luckily, my attorney was able to copy this article and give it, to me. I was headed in a downward spiral with health issues, that I didn’t understand. I was sent to a neurologist, Dr. Maria Palmer, in New Orleans, La., by my attorney. This is when the test started. I was having rashes, on my neck, upper trunk, of the body. After many test, done by Dr, Palmer, she consulted, with me and told me that all the test showed something serious was definitely wrong, however it wouldn’t specify exactly what. She told me I was welcome, to consult with any other dr I chose, but she had done, all the possible test and the outcome, would be the same. She suggested that I see a Dr. Nachman Bratbaur in L.A., CA I didn’t see, where this was possible, due to the expense involved. Luckily my attorney set everything up and flew me to L.A., to see this Dr. He is a world reknowned dr, of diagnostics {German}, who, at the time had invented 3 diagnostic test in the U.S. He works with UCLA, along with his own practice. If you look him up, on the internet he is quite impressive. In August 1994, off to L.A. I went. This cost me $7000.00, but was well worth it. A month after returning home I received his report. I was diagnosed with Autoimmune disease, of the connective tissue. The report stated I was 100% class A disabled. This perplexed me. Disabled? Not me. This never entered my mind. I was simply trying to find out, what was wrong. Quitting work just wasn’t an option. I somewhat ignored the disability part and returned to work. I then set up an appointment, with a Dr. Katherine Frey. She was actually treating  friend, of mine, who was terminally ill. I chose Dr Frey, because she was such a wonderful dr and friend, to my ill friend. She really cared, about people and was brilliant. I would say she was a little ahead, of her time. I brought my report, from Dr. Brautbar, to Dr. Frey. I was so sick the day I saw Dr. Frey. She walked, into the room, to me vomiting, in her garbage can. Dr. Frey really LISTENED, to my symptoms, what I was feeling and took immediate action. First she tested me, or Lymes disease, due to the symptoms. Came back negative. She next tested me, for HLA B27. Bingo. Positive. I was diagnosed, with Reiters Syndrome. In 1994 there wasn’t much known, about Reiters. The Arthritis Foundation was the only source, of information and it was so short and brief. I woke up one morning, to my wrist being horribly swollen and deformed. I was terrified. I called my Dr. immediately and was immediately seen. Dr. Frey did more testing. MRI’s, Labs, xrays. She sat me down and explained, to me about Ankylosing Spondylitis and that she was sure I had it. She told me what would come next. My immune system was at about zero, then. In August 1995 Dr. Frey decided, that IV Chemo could possibly put the Reiters in remission. I was terrified, but the thought of being so sick always and being stuck that way terrified me even more. After 4 months, of Chemo my kidneys were going, into Cystitis, so had to be stopped. Needless, to say this was the same month my husband beat me silly and stabbed me. This was after his mistress showed up, on my doorstep, with their child, from an affair they had while we were marred. Yes, I had hid the fact, that he had beat me several times. How was I going, to take care, of my children alone, if I couldn’t work? Dr. Frey offered me and my daughter a place, to live, but I was not going to leave my home, that I bought, not him. I divorced him, while he was living, in my home, without his knowledge, until he received the divorce papers, in the mail. I then left my home, for 6 weeks, while eviction orders were put in place.  t was so hard being sick and going through this. I refused to take pain meds, because I grew up being taught that anyone who takes drugs, for any reason is a drug addict.. I suffered, for years, before I finally couldn’t take it anymore, the pain and gave in. I went back, to work sick and all. I had to. In 1999, while driving, for a company I was involved in 2 wrecks, in 3 days .Neither, of which was my fault. I knew immediately, after the 2nd one, that it was serious. At that time my son was in college and no longer living at home. My daughter was 14. Luckily, I was dating a man, who helped me financially, until I received Workers comp. I also had applied for disability. It took me 6 years and 2 times, before an administrative judge, before receiving it. After the accidents everything really went down hill.  I have numerous disc herniations. While having all these MRIs, for the accident another Dr. asked me if I knew I had spondylitis? I had completely forgotten, about the first diagnosis, from Dr. Frey. Cookie, all I know is that one time when my husband beat me he slammed my back, on a board. I was bruised straight across, from hip, to hip. After that is when I remember feeling pain always, in that area. I think it set if off. I’ve had so many MRIs, ESIs, steroid injections. I’ve tried about everything. From 1999 the drs kept saying I needed 2 back surgeries, but I wouldn’t give in.I n November 2011 I finally decided I couldn’t take it anymore and saw Dr. Isaza, who helped invent the disc implants, to have surgery. Dr. Isaza informed me I also have Scleroderma. I’m not so sure about this? Needless to say, after consulting with several different doctors they all say the same. I CAN NOT have back surgeries. Due to several reasons. Lupus, severe arthropathy. They tell me my back can’t hold any pins, screw, hardware, of any type, as it would either back out, or crumble. My last lumbar MRIs were in January 2010. These also showed spondylitis. I have finally accepted the diagnosis. But I’m proud, of my strength. The road has not been any easy one, but I never have been one, to take the easy way out. In 1994 I was told I would NEVER walk beyond the age, of 45. I was ordered and sent a power wheelchair, in 2007. The only time I’ve been in it is to ride my grandsons around, for fun. I’ve had 2 rt. knee surgeries. 2 left leg surgeries and the drs say I need knee replacement, on both knees. I suffer horribly, with all my joints, DJD, DDD. I simply take one day, at a time. I look, to the bright side. I’m still walking, even though painfully and God BLESSED me, with the strength, to persevere.
Thank you so much, for all you’ve done, for the AS community.
Humbly Yours, Cherryl
Louisiana, United States of America

One Response to “Cherryl Dean Holton”

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

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