I am a face of Ankylosing Spondylitis. Funny thing about this disease, it takes a different path in almost everyone who is diagnosed with it. My diagnosis came in March of 1989. I had been having repeated flare-ups of iritis, and lower back and cervical pain. It took 5 years of doctor hopping before I finally found a doc who figured out was going on. On repeated visits to the ophthalmologist (for treatment of iritis) he always asked me if I had been to a medical doctor. Also, when I didn’t respond to the normal therapy for back and neck pain, my PT suspected AS. And my mother, who is a BSN, noticed my inability to turn my head and also suspected AS. All I needed now was a rheumy to
confirm their diagnosis. We did eventually find one-at Barnes Hospital , associated with Washington University Medical school in St. Louis, MO, my hometown. I still remember the day that the rheumy handed my husband a brochure about AS. He skimmed through and said, “this is all about you”. Unfortunately after several years of wonderful care from a dedicated rheumy, he died of a brain tumor in 1997. I am grateful that he lived long enough to make a diagnosis that several other doctors couldn’t. Today I am cared for by another Internist/Rheumatologist associated with St. Luke’s Hospital in Chesterfield, MO. Like almost all AS patients my AS has seen times when its ok and times when it is extremely painful. My cervical vertebrae are fused due to AS. I survive on dosed of Celebrex, Azulfidene and Enbrel, supplemented by Tramadol when the pain is really unbearable. I am also grateful to the SAA and all the other people , especially Cookie, who go out of their way to put a face on this disease.
Missouri United States of America