Pennie A. Murdock
My name is Pennie Murdock and I too am the face of Ankylosing Spondylitis.
It was when I was in my early 20’s that I knew something was wrong, I began the journey by Doctoring with my GP. For years he diagnosed me with Arthritis, then changed his mind and told me it was Lupus when I was 28. So for about 2-3 years they shoved Chemotherapy drugs down my throat in hope’s that it would make a difference. Well, the only difference that it made was that; I was sick from the Chemotherapy drugs all the time. And at that point my “normal life” was anything but normal. Here I was, young and felt like I was an old woman. Walking was a challenge, everyday life was a challenge and a night when I would finally fall into bed I was EXHAUSTED, but couldn’t sleep because the pain took over and left me with LONG SLEEPLESS nights.
One day I had FINALLY HAD ENOUGH, the pain was getting worse, I could hardly walk, and I was so consumed by the pain that all I could do was think about the pain. It took me going to my GP in hysterical tears one day for him to set me up with a Rheumatologist.
Little did I know that this was just the beginning of a whole new life changing journey. I seen the Rheumatologist, he did the exam, sent me for x-rays and blood work. I returned to his office 2 weeks later with my Mother in tow for the results only to be told that I had tested positive for the HLA-B27 gene and that I have Ankylosing Spondylitis. So unaware of what this disease was my Rheumy was so considerate when he handed me a small 3 folded pamphlet explaining very vaguely what the heck this was. I cried all the way home thinking that I was just handed this life sentence and still had really no clue what AS is. Everything I learned about AS I learned on my own, it’s such a complex disease that it was absolutely confusing, mind boggling, and scary to learn all of this. Many nights I sat at my computer crying because I knew no one with this disease and felt like I was all alone.
The Rheumy now has me on quite a cocktail of drugs to keep the disease somewhat under control but us ASer’s know AS is NEVER really under control it “just is what it is”.
My life has changed so much since I’ve joined the AS support group on Facebook, these WONDERFUL people have become my family. I continue to learn more and more about this dreadful disease everyday and am so grateful for this information knowing “it’s normal” without me feeling like a freak. I finally feel like someone understands me and knows my daily struggles with no judgments.
Minnesota United States of America