Nadine Cruz

Ankylosing Spondylitis Community Advocate Nadine CruzHi there! My name is Nadine but everyone calls me Nay. I’m 38 years old and was born and raised in Bronx, New York. I'm a single stay at home mom on disability raising 3 amazing children: 2 boys and a girl ages 15, 9, and 2.

I was diagnosed with AS also known as ankylosing spondylitis in January of 2018 after taking medical leave from my job in 2017 due to me starting to experience severe lower back pain and jaw pain. My back pain got worse sitting for long periods of time. I was a senior account manager for a car service so I had a pretty hectic work load that I couldn’t handle anymore, so I decided to take medical leave to find out what was wrong with my back and jaw.

During that time, I saw several different specialists, and no one could tell me why I was experiencing such severe back pain. It wasn’t until I saw a jaw surgeon that I found out I had AS. When I was a teenager (I would say 14-15 years old) my jaw started shifting to one side of my face, and no one knew why. My nose also started to shift.

I took medical leave I decided to also see a jaw surgeon to see why my face had become so crooked over the years. I was very self conscious about it. I was bullied and teased in school and in my neighborhood because of the way I looked. It was time for me to find out why I looked so different then others.

The jaw surgeon performed a CT scan of my face and did blood work, and I was diagnosed with a dental facial deformity due to joint damage that destroyed my facial functions causing my jaw and nose to shift. When my blood work came back one test came back positive which was the HLA-B27 antigen, and they informed me that I had to see a rheumatologist before they can schedule me for surgery to correct my jaw.

I then went to see a rheumatologist she did her own testing and I was diagnosed With AS. I immediately asked her what that was because I had never heard of it and I didn’t know of anyone who had it, and she explained to me that it was an autoimmune disease that causes inflammation in the spine and larger joints in the body and there was no cure for it, only medication. She cleared me for double jaw surgery to correct my jaw I had double jaw surgery in April of 2018 and a septo/rhinoplasty in June of 2019 to correct my nose. I have had a rough long journey battling AS but I have never given up on myself!

Click here to read all of Nadine’s articles on AnkylosingSpondylitis.net.

Click here to read all of Nadine's articles on AxialSpondyloarthritis.net.

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