Back to Stories Index


Connie's Story
Connie Richards

For When I was 15 I started having S/I pain. At the time I was going to try out for the girls' basketball team (I used to be 5'9'). I went to the first try out and the coach had us running back and forth, stopping at each end to touch one of the painted lines on the gym floor. After about 3 times, I had to stop because the pain was excruciating. My back hurt every single day...I remember sitting in my geometry class unable to concentrate (I did poorly in that class!) because my back hurt so bad! My mother took me to our family doctor who prescribed Soma...I was still in pain but didn't care!!! LOL

Looking back now after all these years I think my back hurt so bad in that geometry class because due to overcrowding at the high school, half of us freshmen attended half a day at the Jr. High, and then were bussed 25 miles for the rest of the day at the high school. And my geometry class was right after that long bus ride.

But to continue...all through my twenties I had bouts of pain...each one worse than the last. I was working as a singer...traveled all over...and at one point while working on a cruise ship I got to the point where I couldn't walk! The pain shot down my left leg. Of course I attributed all this to a disc problem because my dad had had disc problems. Our agent had had similar problems and had had back surgery, so he taught me some stretching exercises. I saw the ship's Dr., and he sent me to the shore side Dr., and (of course) neither of them could give me any answers...they pretty much just dismissed my pain! (The shore Doc was also the one who'd given me my physical to board the ship, and the day I took that physical I could barely move! You'd think that would've clued him in. But I digress...)

At this point I'd pretty much given up on the medical community as a whole...I started seeing chiropractors who helped to a certain extent. The pain continued to come and go in acute bouts. And then it day I woke up, and I couldn't even stand upright...I was stooped over, and it took about an hour to be able to walk like someone other than Cro Magnon man. And it continued day after day until I couldn't take it anymore! I'd lie awake at night, unable to sleep because as soon as I'd lay down everything would stiffen right up. God forbid if anyone had broken into the house at night...I'd have been a goner for sure! But, still thinking it was mechanical back pain, I decided to visit an orthopedist. He took x-rays, and said a disc was completely gone in my lower lumbar spine, and that the one just above it was going. He said I had the back of someone in their 60's. He sent me in for blood tests...ESR, etc., and then gave me a book of back exercises...gee thanks!

At about this same time, my sister started having eye pain, and went to an ophthalmologist...Iritis...actually I think he called it scleritis. So he sent her in for blood tests telling her that iritis is usually associated with AS, RA, lupus. Her tests came back OK, but she was HLA-B27+. I looked up AS in my family medical book (believe it or not it was listed!), and couldn't believe my eyes! It sounded just like what I was going through, but I's more common in males.

Anyway, to make a long story even longer...about a year went by, and my sister started having other weird symptoms...her knee swelled up out of nowhere, and she started getting rashes on her arms, so she went to a rheumy who diagnosed her as having undifferentiated spondylarthropathy. He asked her if she had any siblings who had back problems, and when she said yes, her younger sister, he told her I should see a rheumy. So, finally, I went, and after more than 20 agonizing years, I was diagnosed. The diagnosis was a little scary, but more than anything I felt relief that the pieces of the puzzle had finally been put together! Since the diagnosis I've had good days and bad days. I feel it as always in my back, but my neck gives me lots of trouble now, and my knees almost constantly ache. Some days my ankle hurts, and lately, one eye has been getting red and a little uncomfortable, which worries me a bit.

My brother seemed to be the only sibling unafflicted, but in the past few days, we've been corresponding via email a lot, and I've found out that he's had ulcerative colitis for 5 years, and his knee has been swollen for 5 - 6 weeks, and at the same time his ankle swelled. Now he's having that pain in the AS we all know so well. Tomorrow he goes for his HLAB27 blood test. I feel it in my bones (no pun intended!) that it will be positive. Maybe the puzzle has been put together for him now too!

I still don't know for sure if the disc degeneration was due to AS, or in addition to AS...the docs seem to avoid that question! AS seems to be so full of misconceptions and enigmas, and I truly thank God for this board and for all of you!

That's my story, and I'm sticking to it!!! LOL
Smiles, Connie :)

Valid HTML 4.0 Transitional