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Karen Heath

Ankylosing Spondylitis Community Advocate Karen HeathI am a nurse of 25 years. I have primarily worked in neurosurgery for most of my career. And I absolutely love being a nurse and being a patient advocate. My biggest fear is that people/patient’s don’t know what and who is out there to help them.

My journey with pain began when I was 22 on a long drive to my grandfather’s funeral. I was in the back with all the luggage trying to get as comfortable as possible. That trip changed me forever. I began to have pain in my joints with difficulty walking with a limp at the age of 22. Several months later I sought help with a rheumatologist and he said I would not treat you any differently than I would my wife and some people just have back pain.So, I was placed on NSAIDS. And, I went on with my life. After two children and feeling frustration knowing it was not normal to be limping for no reason in my 20’s I sought help again and was told I had Ankylosing Spondylitis and my SI joints were beginning to fuse together.

Several years later I was diagnosed with breast cancer and that sent my pain into a tailspin. Although in my late 30’s, I was walking like a 60 year old due to all my joint pain. I begged for my oncologist’s help to get me back into a rheumatologist. Now, I’m better controlled with medications.

I am new to this forum but hope to be a help to others.

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