Crystal Eldredge

Hello my name is Crystal Eldredge and I am a Face of Ankylosing Spondylitis. I am the oldest of 6 children. I grew up on the 2nd largest working Ranch in Arizona. I was taught at a young age to be tough and work hard. Whining was for girls and I was stronger than any girl I had ever met! At the age of 12 I was crowned with the Honor of being Navajo Country Rodeo Queen. This was a huge honor and one that I was proud to carry! The night that I was crowned Rodeo Queen was the first time I would feel the lifelong pain of AS. That night it was raining and another horse slid into my horse causing my right knee cap to shift to the back of my leg. I was raised tough so I reach down and moved my knee cap back into place. For the past 20 years my knee cap has never been the same. I thought it was due to the accident, little did I know that lurking behind the pain was a much greater force that was stronger than any old rodeo cowboy horse…AS was the cause! In High School I started working from the age of 14. I worked at Mc Donalds, Green Backs, South West College of Naturopathic Medicine and Heath Sciences as there Maintenance {girl} and I also worked at Fry’s Food and Drug. I also participated in high school Mat maid/Cheer and dance. I was in FBLA and debate club. I loved being active and working hard. All the while I would have episodes of extreme pain in my wrists and knees. Dr.’s always said I had tiny wrists and worked to hard. I have been blessed to carry and have 6 children. My first pregnancy was awesome. I worked full time and had an 8 lbs. 15 ounces healthy baby boy. I fell down twice and cut my forehead open once. Second pregnancy was just as nice as the first baby! We welcomed our second son 8 lbs. 7 ounces! I fell face first which resulted in an emergency c-section. Baby flipped and came feet first. Our third pregnancy was extremely painful and miserable. At 16 weeks I wanted the baby out. I could hardly walk let alone stand. Every one said, I was being a baby and just needed to toughen up. The pain and discomfort was unbearable at times. I also fell with this baby but nothing major happened from the falls. I found myself sleeping in a chair trying to find a comfortable position. Finally our 3rd son was born and I thought that would end the pain. I soon found out that I still felt awful and struggled with pain in my hips, ankles, wrists and knees. During my 4th pregnancy I was able to carry our 1st Daughter with no problems. She was 7 lbs. 8 ounces. I only fell down a few times and all was well. We decided that we wanted more children. My fifth pregnancy was horrendous. I had a difficult time carrying our 4th son. I fell down so hard that I dislocated my knee caps and struggled during the remainder of the pregnancy. I also lost bowel control with my fifth baby. It became hard to leave the house and even harder to move around. I went a week over due and finally the little guy came. During his delivery the epidural did not work. I had 4 children before and some of those epidurals failed to work for me. This time I was given too much medication. The baby and I coded it was terrifying and scared us. We swore that we would never have any more kids because the pregnancies were too hard and the deliveries were close to killing me. 8 months 2 days later our 5th child passed away. He died from SIDS. Losing a child is a parent’s worst nightmare and I was living the night mare. My desire to have one more child grew stronger. I knew the pregnancy was going to be awful but my desire to nurture another baby was stronger than the fear of the pain of carrying another child. My 6th pregnancy was epic. I would fall often and I hurt badly. I spent many hours just praying that I could endure the pregnancy. I was worried about the epidural. Our baby girl came and she was our rainbow baby. She helped us heal from the death of our son. The pain that I felt and problems I had with my bowels, was beginning to get on my nerves. I would make appointments and go to specialists. All of them making me feel as if I was a complainer or a wimp. I would tell them my hips, ankles, shoulders, back, wrists, and neck hurt. I guess pooping my pants was normal as well. They would run tests and send me home feeling more hopeless than I did before. Chiropractors seemed to be my only form of comfort. This past year things took a turn for the worst. My Mom finally said that’s it we are going back to the Dr.s and starting at square one. My Dr. looked over his chart and said you have been complaining since 1998 of these problems. He ran some tests and said I had no vitamin D3. I called rheumatologist and made my first appointment. I told her all of my complaints and I felt like she was listening. She called and said she was shocked over my results and wanted to retest me. I went back in and retested. At my appointment she told me that I have Ankylosing Spondalitis. I am fusinging in my toes, wrists, fingers, hips, and knees. The bowel problems were also connected to the AS. Finally an answer! I started Humira and I feel that it is helping me. I am thankful that I finally have a diagnosis. I glad that all of this pain and suffering is not just all in my head. I am thankful that I have good Doctors that are willing to listen to me. I now understand why some of my pregnancies where horrendous!!! Why epidurals never worked! I am thankful I was able to have 6 children! I think if I knew I had AS before I had the kids I might have chosen not to have as many or any at all. I am glad I did even though it was difficult. I am still trying to come to terms with all of this. I feel that the heat from living in Arizona is difficult on me. I do not know what my future holds but it will all be okay…somehow!!! I have good days and bad days. I try to focus on the good things in my life.

Arizona United States of America

 


One Response to “Crystal Eldredge”

  1. Dear Crystal,
    Thank you so much for sharing your story with us. I wish you and your family all the best.
    Sincerely Cookie

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