I was in a car accident two weeks ago. A guy rear ended me and it wasn’t super severe. But since I already have neck issues and stiffness, I thought it best to get checked out. So the police officer had the paramedics take me to the ER. While there, the physician assistant sent me for X-rays and a CT scan to check for fractures; I had no physical bruises though I was sore on my back.
Fast forward to my results – the attending physician noted no fractures and stated that my images were consistent with someone who has Ankylosing spondylitis. Now, I’ve researched this condition on and off for a few years but this was the FIRST time a medical professional has ever said – yeah, you have this. The recommendation was to follow up with my primary care doctor which I did.
What is Ankylosing spondylitis? Easiest explanation is that it’s inflammation of the spine that can affect other joint areas as well. Since talking to my doctor last week, I’ve been poring over the research and I’m so angry that no one thought this might be a problem before. I’ve had two rounds of physical therapy for my knee and two rounds for my neck area. I’ve taken LOTS of aleve. I exercise and totally changed my eating habits and lifestyle yet I couldn’t have just ONE doctor to say – hey I’ve put two and two together and that equals this autoimmune condition????
So today, I just want to stress that you have to advocate for yourself. I was sent to see a rheumatologist who really listened. I’ve seen one before; he did a visual test and sent me for some bloodwork. Since I didn’t have the genetic marker and don’t fit the profile (I’m not a middle age white male), then he dismissed it. UGH! I’m so glad that the new rheumatologist listened, put two and two together and is working with me for a plan of action.
I’m fortunate – I work for a research doctor who is familiar with the condition. My cousin and a friend work in the pharmaceutical industry and provided more details on the medicine that is recommended. But so many others don’t have those resources at their fingertips. *sigh* and this is another reason for me to push with public health. Studies show that women of color don’t get the treatment that they need for so many conditions and just as often, they don’t even know what to ask for.
Whatever your medical state or condition, please advocate for yourself. Take the time to do the research. Keep pushing the envelope. It shouldn’t take a car accident or other incident for you to get the treatment that you need.