Julie Walker Merkle

Face 1075

I’ve had AS since I was 21…I wasn’t diagnosed until I was 27, after seeing numerous doctors.  Finally I was sent to a rheumatologist, and I do carry the gene and he found the damage in my SI joints and I was finally diagnosed.  Oddly enough, it felt like a bit of relief to finally know what was wrong with me.  I was on Mobic, a prescription NSAID for a couple of years and a week after I got married in 2007, I was rushed to the hospital and had emergency surgery to repair a perforated stomach and intestines caused by the medicine…I truly almost lost my life, infection had spread to my heart and I spent a couple of weeks in ICU and then in a regular room.  I went home with open wounds on my incision and couldn’t return to work for months.  I had two follow up surgeries.  With NSAIDs ruled out, I was put on pain management, spinal injections and pain meds.  Over a year ago, I fell into a deep abyss of depression and anxiety, a lot if it due to pain depression.  I gave up on myself and prior to that I was no longer able to work.  It hurt my marriage very badly, this disease is not one that even your partner can fully fathom.  I hope that our separation ends, but I’m just taking one day at a time.  It also hurt a lot of my friendships.  I stopped my pain meds over three months ago and started Humira a few weeks ago.  My SI joints are fused and I have significant damage to my lumbar spine, hips and knees.  My depression is so much better, I’ve been doing everything I can to better my physical, emotional and mental health, one step at a time, not knowing what each day will bring.  But living back home with family and having their support and some other extremely supportive family members and old and new friends helps.  I make it a point to try to laugh and smile, have fun, go out and enjoy the little things, because life can turn on a dime.

Julie Walker Merkle, 37 years old.

New York, United States of America

One Response to “Julie Walker Merkle”

  1. Dear Julie,
    Thank you so much for sharing your story with us.
    Sincerely Cookie

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