Hello everyone who reads my blog...
I know it's been almost two months since I've written, but a lot has happened since then that I've been dealing with. So here goes...
The Monday after Christmas I got a sinus infection. I was miserable, but was able to get over it, or so I thought. I started out the New Year pretty good, joined they gym, and kept taking my NyQuil.
The day after I wrote my last post, January 12, I developed some redness in my right eye. As a contact wearer, this has happened before, and when I take my contacts out, it clears up. However, this time, I also had a migraine-like headache that never went away. By Thursday I was at urgent care, where I was told I had Conjunctivitis caused by my contacts, and was prescribed some Erythromycin antibiotic ointment.
Over the weekend, the ointment seemed to work, but by Tuesday (inauguration day), my eye had completely swelled up and was more painful than ever. I wasn't able to get an appointment to see a doctor on Wednesday, and was to the point of wanting to go to the emergency room. I got into the doctor again on Thursday, and she said I was allergic to the ointment and made an appointment for me to see an opthamologist at the navy hospital in Bethesda.
Dr. Blice, the opthamologist, took one look at my eye and immediately told me I had what I heard was "eye-ritis." Um, yeah, totally sounds like I'm making that up just to get out of work (by this time I had missed a week). It's actually Iritis. He said it's an inflammation of the Iris, and that mine was so swollen it was actually stuck to the lens of my eye. The only way to treat it is to dilate it, so for the next couple days I walked around not being able to see out of one eye. Saw him again on Monday (around the first of February) where there was no improvement, so I had to put drops in to keep it dilated for the next week, as well as put in another drop every hour to keep the swelling down.
The following week, there wasn't much improvement, so Dr. Blice decided to do some "routine bloodwork" because he said that there must be something systemic causing the eye inflammation. He also asked if I had been experiencing any joint or muscle pain, which I thought was weird.
That night on tv, I saw a special on TLC about a woman who had eye inflammation and joint pain, so I "googled" it and got a laundry list of possible causes of Iritis, including Rheumatoid Arthritis and Lupus, leukemia, etc. Yeah, pretty scary.
On the fifth of February, the doctor called saying he wanted to talk to me about some of the lab results. Unfortunately I didn't get the message until Saturday night, so I had to agonize through Sunday thinking I had cancer or Lupus or something. My mom has RA, and her sister has Lupus, so it was quite scary.
It turns out that my lab results for RA and Lupus are negative, but I tested positive for HLA-B27, a gene mutation that is an indicator of auto-immune diseases. I was scheduled for a rheumatology appointment the following week.
I saw the rheumatologist this past Thursday (finally), and was given a complete physical. I was given a tentative (but pretty positive) diagnosis of Ankylosing Spondylitis, a spinal arthritis that causes a lot of pain in the lower back, hips, knees, ankles, and the bottoms of the heels.
I have had pain in those joints since I was about 20, but had always attributed it to being out of shape, so I ignored it. The pain has been getting increasingly worse over time, but I never knew why. I never said anything to anyone because I'm so young, too young to have old bones and complain that it hurts when I walk. Going upstairs is very difficult, and even more so now that we've moved into a three-level townhouse. My hips and back hurt so much that I wake up at night.
Dr. Witter, the rheumatologist, prescribed an anti-inflammatory, but said that the best thing is exercise, like walking, bike riding, and swimming, and to lose some weight. Did you know that an extra ten pounds puts 50 extra pounds of pressure on your knees?
I'm just glad to have some answers for my chronic pain that I've been suffering from for over 8 years, and to know that I'm not crazy.
It's been a long couple of months, but I'm finally going to get better. I'm sure a lot of you have a lot of questions, and so do I. I can still live a normal lifestyle, I'm not feeble or sick. I've decided I'm not going to let AS "get" me. I've watched my mom live with her RA my whole life, and she is my inspiration.