Hi Everyone! The Walk for Arthritis is taking place in Halifax next Sunday, June 3rd. In light of this, I thought that I would share a little bit of my experience with arthritis, specifically Ankylosing Spondylitis. I hope that by sharing my story I can spread awareness for a disease that affects millions of Canadians each and everyday.
I was teaching in South Korea when the lower back and hip pain that I had been experiencing peaked. I tried to brush it off, blaming it on increased running, but it got progressively worse, to the point where I could barely get out of bed. Thankfully, I had amazing friends to help me out. In hopes to get medical help and answers that I was not getting in Korea, my plan to travel to Australia over my winter break quickly turned into a flight home Toronto. You bet I was pumped to trade in my snorkel for a toque!
My condition was a big question mark for the doctors that I saw. Arthritis was discussed as a possibility, but I was quick to brush it off thinking, “I am only 23, there is no way I have arthritis.” Boy was I wrong! Results from blood tests and an MRI later revealed that Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS) was causing the pain I was experiencing. AS is a type of inflammatory arthritis and an autoimmune disease that affects about 1 in 100 Canadians, primarily males. Like many people, prior to being diagnosed, I was under the impression that arthritis was a disease that affected older people. I now know that that is not true at all and you do too!
Right now, I am doing really well. While I still have chronic lower back pain that comes (“flares”) and goes as it pleases, my flare-ups have been shorter in duration and not nearly as frequent.
*Be right back, I am going to go knock on every wood surface in my apartment!*
Learning how to best cope with this disease is a constant work in progress, but the love and support from my family and friends has been the best medicine. Without them, I may very well still be in my tiny pink room in Korea.
Thank you for reading my quickly thrown together, spark notes version, of my experience with AS! Hopefully this is the start of conversations surrounding AS, arthritis and invisible illnesses as a whole. You really never know what sorts of pain people are experiencing.
On June 3rd, I will not only be walking because I know what a literal pain in the AS(S) arthritis can be, but because I have watched someone I love, my Nan, fight Rheumatoid arthritis. She is one of the strongest women I know. I hope that with continued awareness and research, we can enhance the lives of millions of people that live with arthritis and maybe one-day find a cure.
Thank you very much for reading and if possible, making a donation.
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