Thursday, June 12, 2008

Ankylosing Spondylitis

I suffer from a condition called Ankylosing Spondylitis. It's not the end of the world - there are far worse things out their and I'm not fishing for sympathy.

I thought my blog might be a good place to document that aspect of my life. I sometimes blog about work, sport whatever, and AnkSpon or AS as it's known to it's "friends" is something that might actually add some value to the "noise" that is the blogosphere.

So if you've found this, chances are it's because you were looking for it(or at least AnkSpon stuff right?). Leave a comment...let's discuss it.

As common as the literature say it is, I have only met one other person who suffers - and suffers far worse than I do.

My symptoms started when I was about 11. Soreness in the thighs back then. I had a brief period of swollen ankles (well ankle actually) then pain progressed to my hips (by aged 14). Then it was actually diagnosed as AS at about 19. By then I started taking Brufen and still am! (19 years later.) In my 20s the pain an stiffness progressed on up the back (spine) and now it's mainly my neck the suffers.

I've recently had some x-rays as part of a consultation with a rheumatologist which confirmed the complete calcification of many of my vertibrae. The back doesn't hurt that much anymore but the neck still has it's moments.

My condition is far better it would seem than many that suffer from AS. I've heard of people who end up in wheel chairs! I turn 38 this month, still play a bit of social "Indoor Cricket", played proper cricket until about 4 years ago, enjoy my family life, gardening etc, so as I said, this isn't a plea for sympathy or any such thing, it's just a blog post, about something about me, that others may relate to and can discuss if they feel so inclined.

I am no expert and have no medical training at all. This is just talk, anecdotes and opinions from experience.

I've seen doctors, physiotherapists, chiropractors, had deep tissue massage - nothing really fixes it. The massages help for a little while, maybe a day, but as doctors keep saying, it comes down to management.

To be honest, swimming and stretching help just as much.

I am a terrible swimmer - terrible! - but it does help. It's hard to motivate yourself to get to the pool especially now it's winter in Victoria. Thank goodness for me, winter here means lows of around 10 degrees (celcius), it must be far worse to live in a truly cold part of the world.

Anyway, swimming and stretching definitely help - warmer dry weather is better .

A recent visit to a rheumatologist tells me I don't qualify for any of the new drugs on offer, which apparently are a minor injection that can help slow the progression of the disease. If you're 20 and have AS - follow this up! I firmly believe that the very limited success I had in local cricket (very limited) would've been less limited, had my flexibility and mobility not been so constrained. (Read, I was a crap fielder which gave selectors a reason to drop me first!)

Anyway, if you have AS, let me know how you deal with it. If you have any ideas that are better than mine - let me know. Mine aren't earth shattering - just stretch and swim!