I’m Rita. I am a wife, mother & one of many people living with AS. My symptoms started 2 months after I had my first (and only) baby girl in July 2012. Extreme lower back pain, fatigue, & morning stiffness. Assuming all of this was from being a first time mom, lack of sleep & taking care of a newborn 24/7, I pushed through the symptoms. Not for long. I knew something wasn’t right as my symptoms never got any better & I woke up every morning in tears. The pain in my back & hips was unbearable. I had to use a cane to get around for a couple of months. Then it progressed to my right knee, both wrists, fingers & toes. Many days spent in agonizing pain taking care of my baby girl on the floor. Diaper changes, playtime, feedings, I couldn’t pick her up. I was terrified every day that I would do something wrong & not be able to care for her. Worst mom ever, right? My amazing husband had to help me get up & down, in & out of the shower, get dressed, shave my legs, you name it, I was useless. After seeing my family practitioner in November 2012, she referred me to a hematologist. My blood work was all over the place. Severe anemia,increased WBC, low platelets, SED rate through the roof & a CRP of 10! The hematologist told me I was anemic & had inflammation (wow, really?) I was then referred to a Rheumatologist. The first doctor I tried to get an appointment with, didn’t have any openings for 6 months. After crying a river in the lobby, I left feeling totally defeated. I wasn’t sure how much longer I could live in the state I was in. I felt like a horrible mom & burden of a wife.
Thankfully, my husband talked with a coworker who has Psoriatic Arthritis. She referred us to her rheumatologist. My husband called & told me he had talked to the office & they scheduled me for my 1st appointment on January 21st. I had 4 weeks until that glorious day, I could do 4 more weeks! Finally a light at the end of the tunnel!
January 21st, the best day. After a brief medical history, the rheumatologist diagnosed me with Psoriatic Arthritis. Never had psoriasis before, but I was in his hands. At least he told me something. He mentioned AS to me & I had no clue what he was talking about. He was certain my blood work would show that I was HLA-B27 positive. After my results a week later, he was right. I started Sulfasalazine, doxycycline & thyroid meds, as I also had Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. A few months went by & my CRP was still high & I wasn’t much better. I started methotrexate injections & improved. In May, at my daughters first birthday party, I was barely walking, again. The pain was coming back, random joints were starting to swell, I got injections in my toes, fingers, knees, then I started Humira in May 2013. I know it’s crazy, but I felt relief after my first dose. Maybe it was all in my head, but I was very hopeful. I have been on Humira ever since. I am now, living with AS, not suffering from it. Sure, something hurts every single day. But, it is manageable. I have more energy, and am fully independent again. I move slow sometimes, especially for my rambunctious 2 year old, but I’m no longer the horrible mom, the mom that counted down minutes to nap time, the mom that would turn down play dates almost every time we were invited. Thankful for my amazing, supportive husband, understanding family & friends, a great doctor & prayers that have gotten me this far. Here’s to Humira and flares that are few and far between. Maybe one day there will be a cure for AS, but until that day comes, I plan on living & loving life, even with AS.