My name is Joe writing in from Chicago. I was diagnosed with AS 6 years ago at the age of 48, but was experiencing pain in the cervical section of my spine and left shoulder for about 3 years prior to that. The pain became so severe/unbearable that I was not really able to function at any level at all, and I really regret not seeking any medical help/relief sooner.
My GP suggested I see an orthopedist, who sent me to a spinal specialist, who sent me to an RA doctor who did the HLA B27 gene test and it came back positive. X-rays revealed that while I do have some fusion of my C1 thru C7 vertebrae, I still have a bit of motion left. My RA said I’ve probably have had AS since my late teens or so, but that I was also kinda’ fortunate that it did not manifest itself until my mid-40’s.
Because of the cost of my infusion treatments, I applied for SSD and surprisingly was accepted the first time around and started receiving my SSD money within 4 months after applying. From what I’ve read and heard from others, it looks like I got pretty lucky. Although, I attribute “my luck” to having a great RA doctor who provided excellent documentation detailing my illness.
I’ve been on a Remicade infusion treatment for about 5 years now and it has helped a lot, especially in regards to pain management. I also take 1- Aleve in the morning to supplement the Remicade. And while I still have an occasional “Flare-Up”, they are fewer than before and much more tolerable.
And finally, if there are any AS Warrior’s in the Chicagoland area, I would love to hear from you 🙂
Illinois, United States of America