My name is Lydia Harris and I am currently 20 years old and I was diagnosed with Ankylosing Spondylitis when I was 17 years old. The first time I felt a flare up was after a softball game, in which I lost complete function of my right arm. Thinking it was an inflamed tendon, I went to childrens’ hospital, where they extracted fluid from my elbow and ran blood work. They immediately scheduled me for a rheumatologist appointment and a week later was when I was diagnosed with Ankylosing Spondylitis. Since diagnoses, my life’s journey and path have been unknown. I dealt with so much pain the first year; I struggled walking between classes in high school, and I could not stay awake in class from the constant fatigue and exhaustion. I was young, and I did not want to listen to my body. I tried yoga, stretching, physical therapy and nothing worked. I began to see a different rheumatologist closer to home, and she did not waste any time. She put me on the highest dose of Humira and Methotrexate. It has been 2 years since then and I’ve been mostly pain free.

When I was in high school, I wanted to be a Physical Therapy Assistant, however, being diagnosed with this specific rheumatic disease, I came to the realization that I could no longer be a PTA.  Instead, I enrolled into college to pursue a career as a  Radiologic Technician. I am currently in my first semester of RAD school and I am enjoying it very much.  My plan after this two-year program is to go to Ultrasound School. I’m a full-time college student, working an 8 hour clinical shift two days a week and going to the gym twice a week, and I still come home to play outside with my dog. I am eager and excited to see where this journey takes me!