My name is Laura Tenneson and this is my AS story….
I am 35 years old and was diagnosed with AS in November of 2014, although I’ve had it for probably 10 years. I’ve always been sick more than my peers, ever since I was born. My mom always said I would get a fever at the drop of a hat. I started having lower back pain when I was in my early 20’s and was diagnosed with degenerative disc disease after a work related back injury. I then found out I have 3 ruptured discs in my lower back. When I was 20 and away at college, I developed iritis, also known as UVitis. That happened right before finals week, I showed up for Anthropology class one day and my professor made me go to the doctor instead. I went to urgent care and they were unable to diagnose me so they sent me to a specialist. The specialist misdiagnosed me so by the time I got the correct medication, a week later, the iritis was really bad. When finals week was over I went home for the summer and had to continue to go to the eye doctor once a week. By this time the iritis was 50% better but my regular eye doctor still said it was the worst case he had ever seen. He sent me to be tested for hla-b27 and I was positive. I still was not diagnosed with AS at this point. Over the years I was diagnosed with sacroiliitis, arthritis in my feet, a sun allergy and early onset arthritis. And I still was not diagnosed with AS. I moved to Idaho to be closer to my family in 2013. About a year later I started having major foot pain and realized I might have plantar fasciitis. I obtained a PCP in order to get a referral to a podiatrist. I told him about my suspicion of having plantar fasciitis and he asked about my medical history. I started telling him about the arthritis, sacroiliitis and iritis. He asked if I was allergic to the sun and when I told him yes, he immediately told me I have AS. He sent me a rheumatologist to confirm and he was right! After 10 years of seeing more doctors than I could count, he knew what I have in 5 minutes. Unfortunately, my treatment plan was delayed because within one week of being diagnosed, I found out I had severe pre cancer in my cervix, also a result of AS. Boy, that was a rough winter. I got that taken care of and have since been on Humira. I currently have bursitis in my hip, tendinitis and carpel tunnel in my hand, sacroiliitis, plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendinitis, neck pain, sun allergy, itchiness and rashes and so on. Every day is a challenge but I give it all I’ve got. I’m currently in college in a paralegal program because my doctors told me I won’t be able to continue working in restaurants, which is what I’ve done for the past 15 plus years. I don’t know what the future holds but I do know I’ll be fighting this disease with all I’ve got for as long as I live. I count my blessings every day because there are a lot of people who have it so much worse. I believe in the power of positivity and the power of prayer. I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for my relationship with God.
Idaho, United States of America