Hi my name is Martha Perez and I am 43 years old. I was just diagnosed with AS in January of 2016. It was the diagnosis I’d been waiting to hear for 16 years. I had my first bout of iritis at 27 but the ophthalmologist did not think much at the time. I suffered from back pain since my early twenties but always found an excuse for it. During my 2nd pregnancy (I was 31 now)I had severe back, knee, and hip pain. The pain was unbearable but once again I attributed it to the pregnancy. Apparently pregnancy can trigger the inflammatory process. Shortly after I had my son I had another episode of iritis. This time my internist ordered blood test. I tested positive for the hla-b27 gene and had an abnormal rheumatoid factor but there was no conclusive diagnosis. All x-ray results came back normal except for some abnormality on the hip. I was referred to a rheumatologist but no definite diagnosis. Continued with theback, shoulder, and knee pain for years after that but learned to live with. During my last pregnancy 5 years ago the symptoms worsened. Walking was very difficult. Four months after my daughter was born the iritis came back. This time it took over 6 months to control it. All we could do was monitor my labs and keep an eye on my symptoms. In December 2015 I had another episode of iritis with some abnormal labs. For the third time I went to see a rheumatologist. She reviewed my history, my results and did an exam and told me “I don’t need to even look at x-rays. You have ankylosing spondylitis”. She ordered Humira and started me on it within three weeks. I did have two more episodes of iritis within the first month and a half on the Humira. Have not had any more episodes since. Humira is the only biologic that works for iritis. It’s good to finally know what has been causing all my problems. I have a great team of doctors taking care of me. The biggest hurdle right now is dealing with the extreme fatigue. Staying active is the most important thing to do but it’s hard when you have no energy. Going to physical therapy and finding ways to cope is what matters. I’m trying to take it one day at a time and staying positive.
California, United States of America