My name is Jennifer Yoder and I have Ankylosing Spondylitis. I was officially diagnosis in January 2014. Pain started after the birth of my only child in 1991, I was 23. Complained to several Dr’s over the years and only given anti depression meds. This was beyond frustrating, knowing something was very wrong and no one believing me. In 2007 I made a huge leap of faith changing career paths. I had been a secretary for 20 yrs making 10 an hour. My daughter got accepted to Penn State and as a single parent with no help from her father, I knew this was not going to work. I quit my job went to a votec school and got my CDL. Got a good job before I was even done with school making alot more money and good ins the day I started. Shortly after starting I noticed the SI joint pain that was occasional was more frequent. It’s a tough job, hauled stone, blacktop, sand to gas well pads and helped build the roads to them. Not a comfy ride ever. I listened to people talk about aches and pains all day and just figured I was an overweight woman trying to do a man’s job, suck it up this is normal. 2013 was an excruciating year. Family Dr insisted I had sciatica, this was his diagnosis just from my description of symptoms no tests. Muscle relaxers and prednisone got me thru that year. Nov 2013 something horrendous happened, life would never be the same. Pain was unbearable went to different dr begged for MRI. An hour after the test the Dr called me telling me to go straight to the ER. They thought I had infection in my si joint. The next apt was with an orthopedic Dr that shook his head and said “it looks like something exploded in your joint” as he reviewed my MRI. Was sent to another ER immediately following this visit. Saw 6 Dr’s there that referred me back to Rhumatologist in my home town. They did a biopsy of my joint to make sure it was not infection, cancer, thankfully it was neither. My brother in the mean time told me of a family genetic condition a few men had – AS. I had never heard of it or even realized they had health issues. The Dr tested me and I was positive. The only symptom I did not have was very early onset, so the Dr really struggled with the diagnosis. He kept saying “it’s a man’s disease”. I am on my third biologic with little relief. Have since developed neuropathy in my feet. Had costacondritis several times in the last yr and a half. Recently its turned into chronic Costochondtris instead of acuite. I no longer am able to work or basically do much of anything. The prednisone for several years has affected my gi Trac and I take 3 prescription pills a day and still vomit frequently. I wouldn’t wish this on anyone and struggle every day with depression and anxiety. Just want to feel better “normal” again. My wish is for Dr’s to recognize symptoms and not assume anything without testing. Had we caught this say 5-6 yrs ago maybe we could have saved my throat/stomach. Maybe the biologics would be helping more than they are. Who knows. That’s my story god bless everyone of you!
Pennsylvania, United States of America