My name is Jacquie Gregor I am 50 years old and diagnosed with A.S. in 2007. Let me begin with my life before the diagnosis. I was a ‘beauty pageant contestant’ and model in my teens, a mother at the age of 20, a mountain hiker, a fitness coach, all of this with a goal to hike the Grand Canyon on my 50th birthday. The picture of me on the mountain (sitting down) is one of the last times I was able to climb that summit (Not the Grand Canyon). That is a special place, it is where my Husband proposed to me 12 years ago. He said “look down this mountain and see all we have gone through to get here”. I now look at it from below and see how much more courage I need to live my life each and every day!
I now begin my story living with A.S
This Diagnosis came after many years of neck pain and debilitating migraines. I even worked for a Chiropractor to be able to afford constant adjustments and therapies. I remember seeing my breast bone and ribs turn purple about 15 years ago, I laughed and said to myself how special I am to have purple joints, after all this is my favorite color. Well… the purple areas began to appear more and more with increasing pain. I was married to my friend and soul mate in May, 2000. Upon returning from our honeymoon I became VERY ill. I could not walk even 2 feet without collapsing. My oxygen saturation level droped to 77. The doctor told my Husband “get your affairs in order, she needs a heart lung transplant, NOW!” This began what we now know as my A.S. journey. I recovered from breathing issues, with the use of a rescue inhaller and a bronical dialator, I could breathe again, or so I thought!
My body became weaker and my perreferal joints continued to hurt every day. My Mother became ill and needed in home care that became a long hospice care period.
While taking care of Mom and with the stress and little sleep the pain never went away. I noticed a large lump on my sternocavicular joint, it worried Mom and made her ‘comfort care’ more difficult, I laughed and told her it was a backward ‘Quasi Modo’ bump. This took some of the urgency away in her mind. My Mom died in 2005, before she died I promised her to have my ‘Quasi’ bump ‘looked at’. I received so many diagnosis ranging from ‘possible cancer’ to ‘being all in my head’. Durring this time I continued to have chronic Iritis issues. I was refered to an Opthamologist, he told me “you have to have an autoimmune disease, it will manifest eventually”. In 2006 I saw a new Chirpopractor, he manually adjusted my neck and broke off a piece of “calcificated bone”. This gave way to awful pain, the only relief I got was when I put my arm over my head. I went to Urgent care where they refered me to a Rhumetologist. I was at the end of my pain tollerance (so I thought, there have been worse times since), I made an appointment. After months of medical tests and treatments it was confirmed I have “A – Typical Ankylosing Spondylitis” (I do not test positive). What? I was in denial, I didn’t research the disease or talk about it. The less I knew the better I could beat this thing! This cannot be happening, I want to hike the Grand Canyon!
I began a treatment of Humeria, Methotrexate, Meloxicam, Folic Acid and a pain relief medication. The Humeria gave me more migraines and encephalitis, we discontinued the Humeria and tried Enbrel.
With the Enbrel my symptoms became worse. Finally, a “new” TNF blocker was introduced and I am now on all of the other listed medications including Simponi. I thought this was my answer, until March 2011 when I fractured my fibula bone due to tendons being wrapped around the ankle. I had surgery and several months of casts and treatment. NO I did not get to hike the Grand Canyon with my Husband for my 50th birthday. Instead I had a party to raise money and awareness for A.S. I began researching A.S. and I accept that I am one of the faces with this awful disease. I became a support group leader in Tucson, Arizona in December of 2011. I appreciate the S.A.A. and all they do to help us and the communites to become aware of this terrible disease.
I am not easily defeated, I may NOT be able to pick up a giant pistachio (as pictured) , I WILL continue my fight to live a good and happy life in spite of this disease and to help others in their fight to understand and live with this awful disease.
Arizona United States of America
This beautiful apple was created especially for Jacquie by Jenna Dye Visscher
Jacquie was nominated by submitted by Deborah Neil and Kathy Ram
Deborah said, “I nominate Jacquie Gregor. She has AS but she fights through the pain of this disease and is always there for others. She truly has found peace. Jacquie is so beautiful, she asethetically gorgeous, but she truly possess that rare inner beauty we seek to find. She is intelligent. She has a wonderful husband who supports het, she gives as much to the relationship. If I didn’t believe in soul mates, one look at them or a picture and you will see it. Jacquie is very active in the community and her church. She teaches mediation classes. Jacquie is one of God’s Angels here . Earth. I am blessed and a better person because she is a close friend. AS causes her a lot of pain, but you won’t hear her complain. She truly deserves a blue apple.”
Kathy said, “I would like to give an apple to my sisiter, Jacquie, who has been suffering with AS for the past several years. She is a wonderful person who tries hard to live her life to the fullest despite her pain. She has a great deal of compassion for others, and shows it by devoting her life to others in need. She has touched the lives of many through her selfless acts of kindness by being present when so many in her life have suffered. She so often puts her needs aside so that others can depend on her for strength. She is a wonderful, caring person to everyone. I’m proud that she’s my sister.”