AS and RA Won't Win

I was a child with birth defects. My mom and dad chose me over the doctor's recommendation to let the state take over. 1962 was a different time.

I finally had surgery to correct most of the defects at age 4. I was diagnosed with arthritis at that time.

Fast forward to 1978. I began the migraine, costochondritis roller coaster. A fresh-out-of-school chiropractor diagnosed me with AS. At that time, AS was still considered a boy's disease. As a girl, I got a pat on the shoulder and was told not to gain weight and stay active.

I did my best. I am sure keeping active helped immensely. I even joined the US Navy! I only lasted 4 weeks in basic training before AS kicked my behind.

More surgeries

Life went on, and the surgeries to keep me mobile became more frequent. I met and married my husband. I had one child, a daughter. More life went on.

Then I turned 50, and an ER doctor saw my x-rays, and finally, I had solid proof of AS. My broken ribs from a swimming pool accident quickly turned into the hell that is AS.

My rheumatologist found multiple fusions and a solid sacroiliac (sp?). My lumbar vertebrae were 85% fused. Dome thoracic vertebrae were fused. My sternum and ribs had calcified, creating a veritable cage for my heart and lungs. The ribs are also fused to my vertebrae.

Then RA was diagnosed after blood work confirmed it. I was told my AS was a freight train, and I was tied to the tracks.

More life went by. Then suddenly, I am 60. I still push hard at the bindings of AS and RA. I weigh my daily movements by how much I am willing to invest pain-wise.

Yes, I rely on my faith a lot. My husband is my main caregiver. We are adapting our home and our lives to my constant changes and abilities.

Battles lost are lessons learned

In August, I suffered a sideways fall and broke my neck in 3 places, "the luckiest places a neck can be broken," and still walk. However, I have been told I am one calamity from disaster.

I ordered myself an Action Track Chair to keep me mobile outside. I have an electric wheelchair for inside fun. (I tell people it's not NASCAR, it's AS-s-CAR!

That is my story. My battle has been long; the battles lost are lessons learned. Now I treasure my freedom and engage my abilities. I call my AS Herman. My friends all know about Herman. Most conversations start with, "How is Herman today?"

I say, "It's all good. I'll be fine." That's a lie everyone tells once in a while.I love to swing, I feel free then.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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