Hi my name is Jeffrey Pagel. I’m 30 years old, I’m from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and I just got diagnosed with Ankylosing Spondylitis last Wednesday on March 14th 2012.
It all started last November when I started to have severe pain in the bottom of my left foot. I could barely stand without being in pain. I am a correctional officer and a large part of my job is walking on thick concrete all day, so as u can imagine I was in a lot of pain everyday. I went to my primary doctor who referred me to a podiatrist. The podiatrist took mri’s and xrays but he never came up with answer to what was happening to my foot. He thought I might have had a stress fracture, but he wasn’t completely sure. I took three weeks off of work to let it heel. I literally stayed on the couch for three straight weeks. I did believe that my foot healed so I returned to work. Within hours of that first day back I felt the pain completely return. It was not only painful, but depressing.
I have been working as a correctional officer for seven years and I just used my remaining paid sick time on a foot that never healed. Back in September of 2010 I suffered a major trauma. My wife was six months pregnant with my daughter Arianna when she was having braxton hicks contractions. She was laying on our living room floor to relive some pain. I was laying with her on the ground to make her feel better. When I went to stand up I put my left hand on our glass coffee table(like I have a hundred times before ) to help support my body weight. I fell through the coffee table severely cutting my wrist. I severed an artery, tendons, and the main nerve in my hand. I seen my life flash in front of me and all I could think is that I’m going to die before I see my daughter be born. I survived thanks to my wife, the paramedics, and the doctors who had to perform emergency surgery to save my life. This tragedy took months of sick time that I have accrued throughout the years. Not only that but it took many months of physical therapy to even use my hand in simple situations. To this day I still have nerve damage and about half the strength as my other hand.
In early January I started noticing something going wrong with both my feet and my hands began to hurt. I told my podiatrist that the foot never healed. He suggested to me that maybe its a form of arthritis. Me being 30 years old and knowing what I know about arthritis from tv and movies I thought there was no way that could be a possibility. I went back to my primary doctor to try to search for an answer.
My doctor gave me pain medication to get through the day and referred me to a rheumatologist. It took about two months to get an initial appointment. At the initial appointment the doctor took blood, x-rays, and performed a physical test on my joints. He did notify me during the initial appointment that I was indeed suffering from a form of arthritis.
Last Wednesday was my follow-up appointment where I would get some answers. When he sat me down I heard about the first two minutes of what he had to tell me and the other twenty-eight minutes I was in a state of shock. I was diagnosed with ankylosing spondylitis. I felt almost as if I fell through another glass table. I went from virtually never being on medication to being on 7 medications. They are also planning on injections and infusions. It was all very overwhelming. Each day that has passed has been a struggle not only physically but mentally. Also learning about the disease and the medications I have to take is making me realize how serious this really is.
My wife and I were going to start planning for another baby very soon, but due to the medication I don’t know if and when it will be possible.
This will be an everyday battle for the rest of my life. I survived falling through a glass table once and I know I can do it again
Wisconsin United States of America