Living With Ankylosing Spondylitis
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First lets define what ankylosing spondylitis is. Ankylosing Spondylitis or AS for short is the swelling of the joints and tendons along the spinal column. The soft discs between the vertebrae become like bone over time. It starts in the lumbar region of the back and pelvis and spreads upward to the thoracic spine and into the cervical spine area. Eventually it fuses completely and your range of motion diminishes considerably.

Rheumatologists have dubbed this as a classic "bamboo spine". Ever see bamboo? well that is exactly what it looks like. I am speaking plainly here since I came down with it when I was in my 20's, I am now in my 50's and I am about 90% fused. In that time frame I was misdiagnosed over the years but finally I got the correct treatment.

This terrible disease caused me and my family great stress like you wouldn't believe. The loss of wages earned on the job. I was a welder and made good money and I loved it until I just couldn't do it anymore. Going on family outings, playing with your kids, and doing the hobbies you enjoy all stopped because of the pain. Being active and then all to soon not to be active threw me into a deep depression that I just didn't care.

Eventually with the help of my family and friends I mustered what inner strength I had, sought counseling, learned more about "as", completed a battery of drug and physical therapies and to this day I can exercise, ride my bike, go hunting, and enjoy everyday life. and thanks to the personal counseling I was able to put my ego aside and accept that I will never be 100% again.

I loved my job as a welder but now I know I can't do that anymore. I am currently on disability however I am actively seeking different work and looking into returning to school. Hey why not. There is no time like the present. There are employment agencies out there where you can obtain information and take skills tests, help writing resumes and cover letters. You can find out about student aid information if you are thinking of going back to school. They have it all. All you have to do is heal as much as you can heal and go for it.

I urge folks with "as" and those who suffer from chronic low back pain to see a rheumatologist. They can determine with a simple but targeted blood test to see if you have a hereditary gene that causes this. It's the HLA-B27 gene. I know it's technical but don't let it scare you. You can't help it when you born with it.

You can do it, you can get back into the game. Get back to work, earn money, play ball with your kids, go and watch a movie in theaters and be pain free. Myself I like to look at a clear night sky and since I can't tilt my head back, I lay on the hood of my car and count how many meteors or shooting stars I may see.

You have to make adjustments, life changing ones. Find the will power to fight off that little demon that tells you you can't do it, give up, it's not gonna work. But I am here to tell you it will work. Don't be stubborn seek out the right help.

I know my story doesn't cover all the problems "as" causes, cases are different but it is the crux of it so beware of the symptoms. Chronic pain in the pelvic area, lower back pain, stiffness, redness of the skin, swelling and soreness. I urge people with symptoms I just mentioned to seek a rheumatologist. I have been to three different chiropractors and two neurosurgeons for help and they had no clue what was wrong with me.

I can't reiterate it enough, see a rheumatologist.

All the Best

S.Chilensky


Street Talk

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