My name is Karen Holland, I live in Hammond, Ind and grew up in Chicago, Ill. I grew up among the steel mills, electric generating plants, a Ford plant and General Mills and Jays Potato Chip factories. You can imagine the array of smells! I still live in the midst of industry.
I was diagnosed at age 45 with AS and RA in 2008. I had symptoms for two years prior, just after losing 27 lbs over one summer. At that time, I was walking up to five miles at a time and working out three times a week at a Curves center. I saw countless doctors and was told so many times it was “all in my head” even by a counselor. It wasn’t until I met Dr. Kevin Joyce, a new rheumatologist in the same practice as my primary care physician. After running the same battery of tests for MS, Lupus, Thyroid issues and RA with everything coming back negative yet again, I sat in his office and cried. I told him I could not live like this any longer. He decided to try one last test and had me take all the RA tests again (8 vials of blood taken), use steroids for two weeks – and I’m allergic to oral steroids – and then run the same tests yet again. That was when it showed up as seronegative RA. Just having a name for what I was feeling was a huge help. Even if I didn’t understand what it meant.
Many years of research and online support have brought me to now. I’ve tried Enbrel, Humira and am currently on Orencia. Enbrel brought nothing, Humira was doing ok, but then we ran the Vectra DA test which showed an inflammation level of 48. That was when Doc Joyce decided to go with Orencia. Unfortunately, during the two week wait between biologics, I ended up with an ear infection that lasted over two and a half months. Today I take my fourth injection of Orencia. So far I’m not seeing much help, but I’m still hopeful. I also take 24mg of MTX each week, my 1mg of folic acid, 450mg of Lyrica, 150mg of Cymbalta, prilosec, hctz, prometrium … I’m probably forgetting something right now.
I’m hoping I find some inspiration and friendships through AS! I hate having my photo taken :-p
Illinois United States of America