I can’t remember a time when my body didn’t have pain. At age 2 I had a bout of uveitis. At age 7 pain started in my hands. Then my knees. Then irritable bowel. Then my jaw. My doctors kept diagnosing my individual symptoms but didn’t see a connection. When I left my hometown for Ohio State (go Bucks!) I had to find new doctors. My new rheumatologist thought to put the pieces together, and asked to do a lower spine/SI x-ray. There were enough degenerative changes that I immediately had a diagnosis of Ankylosing Spondylitis at age 19. Finally, a name for what I was going through! I was both devastated and relieved at once. We tried many treatment options, but most either caused kidney or liver issues or didn’t work well enough, or I turned out to be allergic to them. So I controlled my inflammation with diet, stretching, and the occasional Aleve, for over 10 years. A broken foot a few years ago put me into such an intense flare-up that I had no choice but to start on a biologic. After a couple of failures, and the added diagnosis of Psoriatic Arthritis, we found one that is working very well for me.
My husband, Jason, and I live in a small town in the foothills of the Appalachians in rural northeast Ohio. We have a lovely daughter who has given us two beautiful grandchildren. We love to travel together as a family. I spend my time singing, playing clarinet/bass clarinet, crocheting, crafting, and working on our house.
I became interested in leading a support group because of the amazing connection I found with another spondy. She and I met on a Facebook AS support page, and eventually met in real life. We’ve been close friends now for years. She is the only person in my life who really understands what I go through because of this disease, and having that support in my life has been hugely beneficial. I want to share that support with others. I can’t wait to make some new spondy friends!