Newly diagnosed at 32
I am a 32-year-old mom, wife, and medical assistant that lives a busy life. I have always struggled with chronic fatigue as an adult. This has been blamed on hormonal imbalance for years. Three years ago, my PCP ran a comprehensive ANA panel on me due to pain in my hands, knees, and hips.
Finding a good rheumatologist
At that time, I had a positive ANA with a speckled pattern. She referred me to rheumatology. It was a 3-month wait to get in to see him. At that appointment, he was the kindest man I had ever met. I did not expect this since I was 29. I had heard horror stories from patients having worked in healthcare my entire adult life. The stories consisted of doctors treating them horrible.
I will never forget what he said to me. "You are a young working mother and if you are going to take the time out of your busy life to come see me and spend your money to see me, I am going to take the time to listen." At that time I was diagnosed with seronegative RA. I was put on Plaquenil and Prednisone.
Some days are worse than others
The next year my journey is similar to everyone else's. Living life, knowing limits, staying ahead of the pain. I started working out with some friends. I developed severe tendonitis on both feet. Nothing helped. I saw podiatry and they had no answers. For the next year, this tendonitis would come and go. At the same time the tendonitis happened, I developed tail bone pain.
Some days were worse than others. Again, no explanation on where this was coming from. Four months ago, I developed severe rib pain. My husband could no longer drape his arm over me at night. My son couldn't snuggle on the couch. It felt as if someone were taking my ribs and snapping them in half at any sign of pressure. Leaning over to pick things up started to hurt.
I started developing tightness between my shoulder blades. Issues sleeping at night because I was unable to get comfortable. My PCP/boss saw my struggles and tested me for HLA-B27. I tested positive for that gene. I went back to my rheumatologist and now I am waiting for Humira to go thru on my insurance to start my treatment.
Other than back pain and fatigue, what is the most common symptom that AS patients experience?