Julie Linton is a 32-year-old physician assistant. She is passionate about her baby boy, her yellow lab, lacrosse and water skiing.
In high school, Julie experienced lower back pain during activities and had to discontinue volleyball, wakeboarding and snowboarding just to be able to continue playing lacrosse. When she was recruited to play varsity lacrosse in college, she declined and only played at club level as a result of the progression of her symptoms.
Physical therapy, spinal injections and oral steroids got Julie through college and game weekends. Anxiety and depression developed due to constant pain. She dreaded going to bed because she knew how bad the night time and morning would be.
Ten years from her symptoms, a rheumatologist diagnosed her with ankylosing spondylitis. She felt relief that her symptoms were finally confirmed with a diagnosis, but relief quickly turned into sadness and anger.
Ankylosing Spondylitis has also affected Julie’s career. She began in general surgery. However, due to tasks of wearing lead, moving patients and standing on her feet for 8 hours at a time, she had to leave something she really enjoyed. Currently, she works in the pain management field which seems somewhat appropriate to her.
Medications have included non-steroidal anti-inflammatories, antidepressants, muscle relaxers, narcotics, pain patches and steroid injections all of which have harsh side effects. Besides pills and injections, treatment has also included physical therapy, massage therapy, orthopedic manual therapy, transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation and psychotherapy. Currently, she receives a weekly injection and the occasional anti-inflammatory pill.
Through the Walk to Cure Arthritis and Jingle Bell Run, Julie has found a sense of community allowing her to be among many other people who are experiencing what she has.
As the adult honoree, she wants to share her story to provide encouragement to those living with arthritis to remind them that they are not alone and to not give up!