I started having AS symptoms at the age of 19. Of course, I did not know that it was AS until I was diagnosed 26 years later! I saw several doctors over the years who dismissed my symptoms, and I was misdiagnosed many times. After advocating for myself, I was finally referred to a spine center. It was then that I was finally validated! My pain had a name…Ankylosing Spondylitis. Now, I am finally receiving appropriate treatment and feeling some relief.
I am a wife and mother to two amazing children. My son shares my HLA-B27 gene, for which he thanks me often at his medical appointments! My daughter is my best friend and I have a supportive husband who has loved me blindly through all of the pain, tears and misdiagnoses. I could not get through most days without their support.
I am a Registered Nurse and I have had to change my career path in recent years due to my AS and the many daily challenges it brings. I have felt the need recently to connect and hear about the experiences of others who deal with the same type of struggles, which has led me to the SAA. I have realized that there are so many people out there who feel like no one understands what they are going through, and as a nurse I know that support is key when someone is dealing with a chronic condition. So, I decided to lead a support group in Charlotte, NC (aka The Queen City) to help provide a local forum where people can share knowledge and experiences, and make connections.