My name is Victoria, and I am 21 years old. I live in pain of every single minute of every single day of my life. On a scale of 1-10, I LIVE at a 7 and it only goes up from there. I cannot remember what it is like to not be in pain. I thrive for normal, and continue to go to school, study, and make good grades as best I can. What would be the point of my life if I did not try?
I got into a car accident back in November 2007, fractured my pelvis, received damage to L4 and L5 in my spine, and had reverse whiplash and a closed head injury. This happened 3 days before my 18th birthday. (Most of my childhood memories and long-term memory is hazy and/or nonexistent because of the closed head injury.) I was in a wheel chair for two months. I went thought all sorts of pain meds, and was healing fine for the most part. In May of 2008 my pain changed, and took a turn for the worse. It started with sacroiliac pain that was incredibly intense; it ran down both sides of my legs. My hip joints would become so incredibly swollen I had to give up wearing jeans most days. I would have numbness, and tingling. My feet became so swollen and my toes blue. My lower back and sacroiliac area have NEVER stopped hurting since. As time went on, I never got better! Upper back pain, shoulders, hands. My ENTIRE body was falling apart at 18 years old! I visited doctor after doctor, has millions of tests. MRI, CT-scan, x-rays after x-rays. Conclusion: there is NOTHING wrong with you; you are just here to get pain meds! Going to the doctor and hearing that is truly devastating. The medication list began to grow including Anaprox, Naprosyn, Mobic, Sulindac, OTC NSAIDs, Anti-convulsive, anti-depressant. Four allergic reactions later and even hospitalized meant back to square one. At this point, I no longer wanted to live. I told my doctor that, they scheduled me for a pain management appointment. They asked all the questions, a physical exam, and order blood work then sent me home with a shot of some sort of NSAID. Physical therapy was ordered, along with psychotherapy and anti-depressants. I had been seeing my doctor several times a month. When my blood work came back, she said I was positive for the HLA-B27, wrote me a prescription for Paxil and Tramadol and sent me home. Confused, I did research. Demanded another appointment to discuss what I had learned on the web. I asked for a copy of my result, across the top of the page DIAGNOSIS = Ankylosing Spondilits. My doctor said she did not want to tell me because she said there is NOTHING more they can do for me. At this point, I requested to see a rheumatologist. After fighting, they finally said I could. My appointment was August 22nd. I had been wishing my summer away waiting and waiting. My appointment finally arrived and my rheumatologist just asked me some questions, I filled out some papers and left. More x-rays and blood work were ordered to confirm my secure diagnosis of AS. When I went back, the results were inconclusive and so a new NSAID was written and I was told I need an MRI to confirm. The discussion of biologics was had, and is the next step if this new NSAID did not work. The new NSAID did not work at all. Biologics are my next option. My only problem is that I go to a University, filled with sick people. I cannot see how someone with a compromised immune system could thrive in that situation. I had a new primary care doctor in the mix of all of this. He seemed to think, AS was for sure what I had, and had been treating me for it. His way of treating me was just to combat the depression and nothing else.
In-between my initial diagnosis I have also added on costochondritis that just will not seem to go away. I am 21, 5’4” 103lbs, supposedly in the “prime” of my life and I feel like an 80-year-old granny lady. Currently, am taking only Tramadol (when I do not have class) and that is it. I tried re-visiting old NSAIDs in hopes that one of them would work. I go to school full time, and I will be graduating in May with my BS in biology. I am pre-med and planning on going to medical school to become some sort of medical doctor. My belief is this: The reason I am being pushed so hard is so that I am forced to make a difference. Every event that happens in my life is another step toward something bigger. If I did not believe this, I would fall apart.