Working Mom Juggles Family and Ankylosing Spondylitis

Working Mom Juggles Family and Ankylosing Spondylitis

Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS) is an inflammatory disease of the spine, under the umbrella of arthritis, which causes inflammation, chronic pain, and can cause the spine to eventually fuse.  Jennifer, age 28, full-time employee, student, and mom was diagnosed about two years ago with AS and has since then found little reprieve in her prescribed medications.  Like most forms of arthritis, there is not a cure for AS, however Jennifer holds onto the hope that during her lifetime she will see one.

Unfortunately, most of the medications Jennifer has used for her disease have done nothing to alleviate any of her symptoms.  She has tried chiropractics, physical therapy, NSAIDS and Humira.  Currently she takes gabaprentin (for constant pain) and Remicade.  Even though she claims her drugs keep her from hitting bottom, she still does not feel anywhere close to her old self.

Before her diagnosis, Jennifer was carefree and friendly and even admitted to having a bit of a wild side – even going through a stint with purple hair!  And though she shows glimmers of her rambunctious personality from time to time, her AS hinders her from living her old lifestyle.  Her disease causes constant fatigue and even forces Jennifer to walk with a limp.

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Aside from physically affecting her life, Jennifer said her AS greatly changed her emotionally as well.  “It made me grow up,” she commented.  “I was a total hypochondriac as a teenager, and now that I’ve actually got something wrong with me, I whine less.”

Ankloysing Spondylitis Mom

She admitted that in the early days after she was diagnosed, it was difficult for her to see the bright side because she was frightened of living a life with an autoimmune disease.  But her outlook has since shifted.  Now, she argues, she’s just focused on getting the most that she can out of life by trying to love every minute of it.

“I’m moody quite a bit,” she confessed, “especially on bad days.  But honestly, I’ve become more compassionate toward other peoples’ problems.”

Yet despite her pain, which she claims that on a scale to ten, averages a five or six every day, she’s a loving mother and wife.  She holds down a full-time job at a bakery, attends school, takes care of her family and – phew! – still has time for doctor’s visits and trips to her local infusion center for medication.

Looking to the future, Jennifer is eager for new developments in the field of research that might offer her treatments she could benefit from.  One of the positives to come from her disease is the community of friends she found in her fellow autoimmune sufferers.  She says that every day is a battle, just to get up in the morning and live, but those who do it are among the strongest people.  For her it is important to keep her head held high without looking back.

“The day you lose hope is the day you give up and let this disease barrel you down – we will not give up that easily!”

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Article Author
Arthritis National Research Foundation

The Arthritis National Research Foundation's mission is to provide initial research funding to brilliant, investigative scientists with new ideas to cure arthritis and related autoimmune diseases. Writing articles about the patients affected and the science being done to find a cure shows why we need to come together to #CureArthritis!

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