Category Archives: Neck Pain

Feeling Awesome by Work Out and Crappy by Anything Else


  Say hello to work out Meghan. Running (well, “running” but it’s not walking, so who cares how many miles per hour it is?) with the breeze blowing through my hair, one foot after the other, busting out an uphill gain (Ok, so it’s only 50 feet, who cares?) while I’m doing a little dance move with my hands to Pink’s “Raise Your Glass.” Perfect. Seamless. True, legs are a little sore, calves still haven’t completely adjusted to the new vibram five fingers or the torturous cold air 4 mile jog that I am putting it through. Yes, my knees are a little rickety and at a time or two I slide ever so gracefully on a small patch of black ice. Yes I am absolutely covered in sweat from head to foot because for some unknown reason, I perspire 1000000000% more than the average human being.  Yes, my earbuds slide out every few minutes because apparently my ear holes aren’t properly formed for the latest Sony bud covers. Yes, my spandex pants are a little too tight, thus accentuating parts of me that I’d like a little more toned. Yes, I’m breathing through my mouth, gently wiping slobber out of the corners of my mouth and off my cheeks. Yes, I MAY EVEN BE mouthing or heaven help us, SINGING OUT LOUD to the song on my shuffle. But, don’t I look happy? I am in my element. I am doing it. I have AS and I’m out of shape and I’m running. And I like it. I even got Andrew out there running with me and putting up with my crazy routes. My butt feels NO pain. Take that SI joints, I have found a way to mute you. Take it! My lower back feels like I have brand new vertebrae of flexible steel. I don’t know if it’s possible, but just imagine it is. My muscles are relaxed and I feel like I could fly.

That’s work out Meghan. Now meet Meghan at any second of the day when she is not working out.

Meghan is broken. Meghan is in pain. Meghan is exhausted. Meghan is ready to throw in the towel. Imagine your neck and back and butt being steam rolled, spat on, and steam rolled again. That is Meghan on no Enbrel and not in work out mode. It could be an hour after working out, it could be in the morning before working out, it could be on a “rest” day. This Meghan is evil. She feels like crap, she is groggy. She feels like she has been up for 5 days straight. She wants a vacation.


How is it possible to be both Meghans? I’m not sure myself, but trust me, I know it is! I don’t get it. It exhausts me to start thinking about it (not currently working out). I try to figure out how I can feel so wonderful exerting energy that quite frankly, I don’t even know that I have in me. Yesterday, I did NOT want to get up. I knew we were supposed to run 4 miles and I wanted to run 4 miles but I didn’t want to get up. I hit snooze a couple times. Andrew got up and got ready and then came back into the bedroom. It took everything I had in me to get out of bed. Once I was outside, I felt a little more awake but really sore. I remember thinking to myself, there’s no way I’m going to be able to run 4 miles. But you know what? I did… and I’m not sure how- but I do know that during those 4 miles I felt invincible. So I guess my question is, is it possible to work out all day? Because if I could, I would. If that’s the only way to get relief, I am. in.

Next Monday, I have an appointment with my Rheumy (FINALLY!). I’m really hoping that he gives me the go-ahead to get back on Enbrel. Please cross your fingers– I think if I can go back on, I will start to feel 1000000% better!



The Implications of a Tick on an Auto Immune Disease


If you read my last post, Implications of an Autoimmune Disease, then you are aware of some of the risks that come along with Enbrel; mostly a weakened immune system. In addition, you know that I’ve been dealing with some swollen glands, sore throat, stiff neck, headaches, fatigue, and more recently… despite the Enbrel helping my back, I did not like these other symptoms. So, after a visit to the minute clinic, another visit to a regular doctor to get tested for Mono, the flu, and a whole slew of other illnesses, I finally got my answer.

On Thursday afternoon, I called my doctor to cancel the appointment we had scheduled for Monday because it overlapped with Andrew’s staple removal. The doctor came on the phone and said, “well I’m looking at your bloodwork… everything looks normal except well, you tested positive for Lyme’s disease.” And thus, I had an answer to my symptoms. Albeit, perhaps not that answer I had hoped or wanted (if you can possibly hope for some type of illness), but, at least it was an answer. She said she would send me antibiotics that I should take for two weeks and she would refer me to an infectious disease doctor who I needed to follow up with.

I’m sorry what? The last time we went hiking was 6 MONTHS AGO! Such is life. On Thursday and Friday, I checked my email and mail for either a prescription or medicine; I found neither. I called my doctor’s office to ask if I could just come pick it up and the woman told me that it was the doctor’s day off and she would just call me back on Monday. This kind of upset me because even though Lyme’s is very treatable, 1) I feel like SH*T and 2) you’re supposed to start taking antibiotics the second you find out. Luckily, on Saturday, the medication showed up in the mail . The medication is doxycycline (pictured below). You take it twice a day either 1 hour before eating or 2-3 hours after eating. It causes nausea and headaches and fatigue. Here I pause- wasn’t I supposed to be on this medication to stop the headaches and fatigue? Oh, life! In the meantime, I had to call my Rheumy and explain that I had been diagnosed; he told me to immediately stop taking Enbrel. Which is just fantastic, considering that I just started to feel immensely better on Enbrel.

I called the infectious disease doctor Monday morning and the woman said that the next available appointment was January 23rd. Wait, what? 1.5 months from now? There’s no way I can make it 1.5 months without Enbrel. So, I called my doctor back. She said, yes you can wait until January 23rd and you should keep the appointment because you may need a longer course of antibiotics. I mentioned that I had to stop taking Enbrel until my clearance from the infectious disease doctor. She replied that this infectious disease doctor was the only one in the area and that I should call back and say if there are any cancellations to let me know. Let me pause here– does it make any sense to go on antibiotics for two weeks, only to go off them for a month, only to possibly find out at the end of January that I should be on a longer course of antibiotics? But, i digress.

Andrew then did a search of infectious disease doctors in the area and found one up near my Rheumy. I immediately called and they were super friendly and got my an appointment.. wait for it… TOMORROW MORNING! Amazing! So, I am off tomorrow morning to figure out the next course of action. Needless to say it has been a whirlwind tour of diseases and illnesses! By now I am sure that Andrew is sick of my complaining, but, he is being a great sport and I continue to appreciate his support as I have my mini emotional breakdowns!

I will see that although the past few months have been trying, finding out that Andrew’s tumor was benign, seeing the drain and now the staples/stitches removed makes me sooooo completely happy! On top of that, I just found out that I got an A in one of my courses and an A+ (the first he’s given to a student at JHU) in my other course. So really, it’s hard to say that this past week has been anything but AMAZING.

Implications of an Autoimmune Disease


While there are a whole host of implications associated with autoimmune diseases from the usual aches and pains to exhaustion to the whole injecting yourself weekly to icing and heating and figuring out how to “get back to normal”, the one that often gets overlooked is the fact that when you use a drug such as Enbrel, your immune system is extremely weakened. You become susceptible to viruses and bacterias and illnesses that you might have otherwise been able to fight back against. I find myself in a constant state of wondering, am I supposed to feel like this? Is this related to the AS? Is it a side effect of Enbrel? Is it just grad school and work sleepiness?

Then you start reading about autoimmune diseases and TNF-blockers (Enbrel) and how your organs become more susceptible to having bad things happen to them (the nicest way to put it)… and you begin to thin, crap, maybe I should take the time to schedule a doctor’s appointment. As I noted in my last post (post-Jingle Bell 5K), I’ve been experiencing some swollen glands and a sore throat, a stiff neck, and some low grade fevers. The swollen glands have been off and on for a month. For a while, I thought they were related to Enbrel, but they got so sore to the touch and then with the stiff neck and the sore throat, I just decided it was time to go see someone. Naturally, I didn’t feel awful on a weekday, I felt the worst on a Sunday. So, Andrew took me to a CVS minute clinic. I met with the doctor who checked me out and I explained my symptoms. He said he would take my temperature but that the TNF blockers can sometimes cause your temperature to be low and prevent any fever so there probably wouldn’t be one (there wasn’t). He did a rapid strep test even though he was sure that wasn’t it (it wasn’t). He then said that my symptoms seem to point towards mono so I should schedule an appointment with my primary care physician to have the mono test done.

So, this morning, Andrew drove me to the doctor’s office to have a mono test done. To do this, they have to prick your finger and take some blood out and run a test. Fine, whatever. They also wanted to do a flu test. If you’ve never had one before, I suggest you don’t start anytime soon! They take a swabber thing, have your head tilted back, and then shove it up your nose and swab. It is god awful and made me tear up. It suddenly made all the pricks and blood drawing not so bad. Well, the rapid mono and flu tests both came back negative. So, my doctor decided to take blood to do some full tests for iron, EBC and CMV (two viruses- I think- associated with Mono), electrolytes, my thyroid, and a whole host of other things that I cannot remember. The goal is to try and figure out what is causing the pain, the swelling, etc. My doctor said if those tests come back negative, then we will then go to an ultrasound of the neck and throat and have a discussion with my Rheumy about what to do next.

When we left the doctor’s office this morning, I had a sore nose, a bandaid over my finger prick site, and a bandaid over my blood withdrawl site. I got in the car and we started driving and I started crying. I am frustrated. I am exhausted. I am worn out and I want to know why my neck and throat feel as though someone is simultaneously choking me and hitting me with a baseball bat. Andrew calmly tells me it will be ok and we’ll figure it out. He tells me, “sometime good people get shit on.” That cheered me up. a lot. I don’t know how I would get through all of this without him- he is truly awesome and always finds a way to change me from an emotional baby into a laughing young lady. Thank god for good guys!