My name is Amanda, and I would like to welcome you to my world of the daily adventure called Ankylosing Spondylitis. I was diagnosed with AS in October 2008. My first reaction was basically… I have WHAT? What does this mean for my future? I had never even heard of this crazy unpronounceable word and now I was diagnosed with it. As I sat in the doctor’s office listening to an explanation of the disease, a sudden sense of relief came over me. It answered years of unexplained pain. I had so many doctors through the years telling me my symptoms must have been in my head because they didn’t make sense. There were no visual signs or easy explanations of the pain I was going through so they would write me off and send me on my way. I was passed around like a deck of cards for years to only end up with a losing hand until that moment. A diagnosis that could try to control me definitely scared me but, at the same time, gave me a reason to never doubt myself again. I realized quickly that AS chose me, and it would be a battle I would need to be ready to take on. I vowed to always be my biggest advocate.
Now what do I do? How can I live “with” AS not “for”it? To hear you have a disease that will only get worse and has no cure can be extremely overwhelming not only physically, but emotionally. I felt very alone in the beginning and found that the multiple websites and support groups were vital to my own awareness of the disease. I decided to choose hope. I’ll do all I can to help spread AS awareness. I continue to educate myself daily on the disease. The more people I meet through AS groups and with each visit to the Rheumatologist, I find I’m not alone in my fight with AS. There is a huge community of comfort out there and it helps strengthen me daily. Please find the courage to help spread awareness and know you are never alone.
The 411 on Ankylosing Spondylitis
For those new to this disease here is a bit of basic information. Ankylosing spondylitis (pronounced ank-kih-low-sing spon-dill-eye-tiss), or AS, is a form of arthritis that primarily affects the spine, although other joints can become involved. It causes inflammation of the spinal joints that can lead to severe, chronic pain and discomfort. The inflammation can cause the spine to fuse in a fixed, immobile position, lovingly nicknamed bamboo spine.
AS can also cause inflammation, pain and stiffness in other areas of the body such as the shoulders, hips, ribs, heels and small joints of the hands and feet. The eyes can become involved and the lungs and heart can be affected. AS is an equal-opportunity disease. There is no known cure for AS.
I would like to thank The Fight Like A Girl Club for the wonderful support they are providing for all women fighting an illness.
This article is intended to convey general educational information and should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional healthcare advice.