My name is Kimberly Ann Conaway and I have AS. I’m 40 years old and live in Palmer, Alaska. I have 3 kids. Eric is 21, Jessica is 19 and my step son Bristin is 14 and I’m married to a wonderful man named Jason. My symptoms with AS started when I was about 30 years old. The back pain I was having was a nuisance. I would wake up with pain during the night and as time went on my pain got worse, especially in the morning. I thought it was my lack of exercise and my weight gain that had caused the pain, so I lived with it for years. When I was about 34 I started noticing pain in other joints and an extreme fatigue that was taking over my life. My daily chores and taking care of my kids seemed to be a challenge for me instead of the joy of motherhood and caring for my family as it should have been. I was starting to get a label by many as lazy and never wanting to do anything, part of me was giving up and not caring anymore. This also went on for awhile. I started to pretend, as I do sometimes to this day that I was fine. I didn’t want the eye rolls and the 100 ideas everyone had for me, to eat this and do that. I didn’t know what was wrong with me, so many changes and pains happening to me. When I was just over 35 years old, I woke up one morning, I rolled out of bed, as normal and had a pain in my eye. It was like I had something in it. I didn’t think much of it, maybe I had scratched it or something. Well that’s when my body and AS decided to make it’s wonderful debut. Many days went by and my eye got worse, being stubborn me, just tried taking care of it myself. After a week and a half my eye was almost completely swelled shut and the pain was unbearable. My husband worked away from home sometimes, so he didn’t know the severity of this. I ended up calling my mother in law to take me to the emergency room. I couldn’t open either eye at this point. Scared of what was happening and the pain, I begged to docs to do something. At the hospital the docs keep bringing people in questioning me on who did this to me and they wanted to help. They insisted I had been hit! I cried an pleaded with them that no one touched me. Well there was nothing they could do and gave me some drops an sent me home. Drops did nothing! That next morning we called an eye doctor who could get me in right away! Thank goodness! I got up my appt and the secretary tells me the doc called in sick. I was so angry and upset, I couldn’t take this pain anymore. The pain I was experiencing in my eye dulled all the pain I had everywhere else. She called another eye doc and said this woman needs to be seen ASAP! Thankfully it was a doc right down the road. We went on to her, she came right out when we got there and I could tell by the look on her face when she saw mine, it wasn’t good. She took me in the back and questioned me and put dilating drops in my eyes right away. Nothing happened. She then preceded to tell me she was afraid to touch me anymore because my pupil was almost closed in my left eye and called a specialist right away. So off to the next doc we went. We say there for 3 hours till he could squeeze me in and knew right away. He started drops and was very caring in his way of trying to look in my eyes. I had several drops and prednisone he had prescribed and I needed to come back the next day. Well for 3 weeks I was in his office every other day. He told me how lucky I was I didn’t go blind and asked me several questions. He looked at me and said, I’m sending you to a rheumatologist, you have Ankylosing Spondylitis! I was like what in the world is that? Many weeks went by till my appt. My rheumy did lots of X-rays and blood work, you know the fun stuff! Well he to confirmed I have AS, also Lupus, low platelets and on and on! You know all the little gifts AS brings along the way. Well almost 5 years DX and my life in ways have improved and gotten worse. Gotten worse because everything that can hurt, hurts! Every med I take has a different reaction! I’ve been a Humira, Simponi, every NSAID known to man, pain killers and steroids. Nothing helps. I tend to live with the pain most of the time. As everyone knows you have good and bad days. I tend to have more bad days but the improvement in my life is, I refuse to not enjoy life and say why me. We all have those days anyway, I know them all to well. I still get iritis every other month and really bad flares at least one a month or 2 that last about a week long. Sometimes I can’t even stand up. I have realized that as horrible as this disease is someone always has it worse and thank God everyday. Sometimes I waddle like I’m 9 months prego because I the pain in my SI. I could go on and on, you all know what I’m talking about. I’ve meet such amazing people having this and weirdly enough I’m thankful. My life and attitude has changed so much because of AS. I try and keep myself busy with crafts and baking. My husband made a room for me just for my crafting and sewing, so I could have a happy place to go to. I don’t really do much outside the home, especially when Jason is away at work. I’m afraid of hurting myself and being here alone. So me and my dog chill out and relax. Unless it’s my step sons basketball games, I won’t miss those for nothing 🙂 Thank you for letting me share a small portion of my AS story. I mean I could write a novel with everything that happened with it, LOL! Thank you Cookie and God Bless You!
Alaska, United States of America