Robert Yeager – Age 28
Written by Christina Yeager (His Wife)
Ankylosing Spondylitis impacts my family in a huge way. My name is Christina Yeager. My husband, Robert, has dealt with back issues since before I met him over eleven years ago. We (and physicians) always assumed his back pain could be due to an accident in 2000 where he was hit by a truck while on foot. Over several years following his accident, his back pain gradually grew to sometimes excruciating and unmanageable pain. But…the pain only showed itself a few times a year. In between pain spells he was able to work, we started a family and he went to several physical therapy sessions. A few of these sessions would actually put him out of commission for days, unfortunately.
Like I said…the pain grew gradually over a few years. Robert’s real problems began about a year ago after he turned twenty-eight. He was in his second year at a job he had come to really enjoy. Some days he would come home in so much pain, it was even hard for him to walk, sit, stand — no matter what kind of medication he took, he couldn’t find relief. Up until half a year ago our family no longer had health insurance and we couldn’t afford for him to visit a doctor. We were barely making ends meet. When we did finally get insurance through his employment, he immediately made an appointment with a physician. The physician took some x-rays and sent him to physical therapy. Again…the physical therapy put him down for a few days every time he went.
The physical therapist actually suggested that he may have Sacroiliitis after realizing his limited mobility during the sessions. He went back to the physician with this information and she ordered up and MRI and referred him to a bone and joint specialist. The MRI revealed information that led the doctors to believe that my husband had Ankylosing Spondylitis. Robert was then sent to a Rheumatologist that reviewed the x-rays and MRI from the previous doctors. He was then diagnosed and placed on a series of medications — something for pain and an anti-inflammatory. None of which helped. Then he was placed on a stronger pain med and a different anti-inflammatory. Still…nothing. No relief. The doctor then placed him on Enbrel. We realized, after several visits, this physician was not knowledgeable in the condition and my husband changed doctors.
The new doctor gave us more information than we had learned online! We were so relieved. However, my husband’s condition with AS is stagnant and simply not going anywhere. Turns out he not only has issues in his lower back, but in his hips as well. He has his good days and he has terrible days. His medication regiment may be changed to Humira soon. Robert is cautiously optimistic that it will help. The new doctor has taken him out of work completely and our finances have taken a horrible dive. With three young children at home, we aren’t sure what to do at this point. My husband was able to draw short term disability from his employer for a short time, but now that money has stopped. I have begun looking for employment, but after staying home these last five years to raise children…I’m not sure how good my chances are. We have also begun the process of filing for SSDI benefits, but the information on the internet about the likelihood of people with AS getting help is sketchy at best.
I’ll support him and help make him as comfortable as I can. He hopes to someday be able to play with his children, go camping and fishing like he once did and return to work. We know the road ahead isn’t gonna be easy, we just got to find a way to make it work!
Tennessee United States of America