AS is a thief, a trickster and a really crappie life-partner. AS has no moral compass and absolutely no compassion. Its lack of empathy is only matched with its intense perseverance.
It takes hold and never lets go…even if you have episodes of remission, this disease is lying in wait.
Although it is true that chronic illnesses do not affect all patients in the same way, Ankylosing Spondylitis is known to cause inflammation, pain and fatigue.
AS disrupts our daily activities, our plans and our ability to maintain relationships and often work. Chronic illness can bring depression, anxiety and a sense of being alone.
Some of will dig deep and find strength we never knew had before. Our strength may come in our determination to get out of bed, to join a “Walk Your A.S. Off” team and count our steps.
Our strength may come in our ability to simply take the day minute-by-minute. Some of us will accept life with a chronic illness with amazing grace and some of us will fight, scream and rebel against this disease.
Some of us will be still and silent. Some of us will discover a level of activism that they never knew they had. Some of us will learn to be compassionate with ourselves.
All of us must go through our own rabbit hole of getting used to life with a chronic illness.
First we have to learn how to even pronounce our disease (my 6-year-old child mastered it before my husband and I did!)
We all have asked “How did this happen?” or “Why me?” or even, “How did I not figure this out earlier?”
There may be no real answers to these questions. There are times that rational thought cannot address irrational happenings. You did nothing to acquire this disease—it was in you.
This disease was written in your DNA and when the “ON” switch was hit, it took advantage of you. This disease may be part of your family tree or you may be the one and only—either way, I hope that the branches of your tree support you. I hope those boughs cradle you with comfort and understanding.
You have suffered. Suffering brings out anger and sadness. You have the right to be sad, you have earned the right to weep and you have earned the right to scream and throw a fit.
This disease brings physical changes and emotional ones. Please give yourself the freedom to be muddled and emotional.
You have earned the right to be depressed. You have also earned the right to reach out for help.
There are members of this online community that will support you without question or judgement. Please be kind to yourself.
Your self-image may change. There is a strong chance that you will look at yourself through a different lens, but please remember that you are special.
You are strong. True, you may not be the same person you once thought yourself to be—but the truth is, right now, you are a better person that you ever imagined you could be.
You are alive. You are a fighter. You are an AS Warrior.
Submitted by Karen Swank-Fitch
Morgan Hill, CA, USA
Team Fitch Feet