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Johnny's Story
John Miller

My name is John, but all my friends call me Johnny. I have been suffering with sporadic bouts of lower back/hip pain (actually it has always felt like my rear-end) since 1992. In mid March 1993, there was a blizzard (some call it the "Superstorm"). There were 14 inches of snow where I live. That wouldn't be so impressive if it were not for the fact that I live in Alabama. Anyway, during the storm the pain became so intense in my legs that I could not get out of bed or walk.

When I got a little better, I saw my family doctor, who recommended I see a Neurosurgeon (He thought I had a ruptured disk). I saw the Neurosurgeon, who sent me for a CT scan. It showed no problems. Since the pain had always been intermittent, and since I lost my health insurance shortly after this time, I just decided to live with it. When
I say intermittent, I mean severe pain, because I always had some pain and stiffness.

During the years that followed, I have had other symptoms. I have had several episodes of extreme chest pain. It would feel like every time I breathed in, that someone would stab me with a knife. These episodes would generally last several days, and afterward, my chest would feel bruised for up to a week. I have also had stomach problems.

From 1995 through 1997, I went back to school and got my Masters of Library and Information Services Degree. With this Degree, I managed to secure a job as a Librarian at a community college near my home. Finally, I had insurance again. By this time, however, the pain in my lower back/hips was not occurring as often, and I do not believe it was as intense as it once was. I think I had also just learned to live with the pain, and, perhaps, there was a good bit of denial also. 

During 1999, though, I began to have a new problem (severe stiffness). I began to grow increasingly stiff in my back, my legs, shoulders, and neck. I also had bouts of excruciating morning stiffness, usually lasting several days. This morning stiffness was always worse if I slept on my back. While doing some research on the Internet, I read an article about SLE (Lupus), and began to wonder if I might have it. I asked my family doctor to do an ANA test, which came back negative.

In January of 2000, I began to have a new pain, a severe pulling, tense pain down the inside of one thigh (almost like in my hamstring). It was so severe, that it impaired my ability to walk. Because of this, and the fact that I had been growing more and more frightened about the prospects of having some severe rheumatoid condition, I decided to see a Rheumatologist. He saw me and examined me thoroughly. He asked me to touch my toes, and to my own surprise, I couldn't without bending my knees considerably. This really upset me, because I did not know I had become so stiff. He also prodded my sacroiliac joints, and on one of them, it felt like he stuck me with a dagger. It was actually sore where he touched me for two days afterward. After the examination, he said he wanted me to have X-rays and blood tests and come back in three weeks.

He told me he suspected I had Ankylosing Spondylitis. I had never heard of the condition, so, being a librarian, I researched it, and discovered that I wished I still had never heard of it. During the research, I found, and have been a member ever since. Since my initial visit with the Rheumy, I have had numerous blood tests and X-rays, a CT, and a colonoscopy. I was found to be HLA-B27 negative and have no signs of Inflammatory Bowel Disease. My Sed-Rate was found to be elevated, though, and inflammation/fusion was found in my Sacors. On April 17, 2000, I was diagnosed as suffering from Ankylosing Spondylitis.

Oh, and one more thing, I am a complete Painindaas!

John Miller,

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