A.S. Face 0141: Ashley Latsch
Greetings all! My name is Ashley Latsch and I currently reside in Muskegon, Michigan. I have been officially diagnosed with Ankylosing spondylitis for nearly four years; however, I have dealt with the pain for a significantly longer period of time. I have switched medications numerous times! I began with the basic anti-inflammatory drugs and have eventually moved on to medications like Enbrel and Humira. With all of this being said, there have been a million things about having Ankylosing Spondylitis that have caused me to become a better person. However, I feel that it is imperative that people try to understand how devastating of a condition AS can be and just how much of an emotional toll it has on a person. Now, here’s the drag; at this point in life I am only a sixteen year old high school student with many, many years ahead of me.
‘Pain is inevitable, Suffering is optional’, right? It is much easier said than done! There are so many things at this young age that I have to think about. Like what I need to be doing to take care of myself and what medication I should take. And, trust me; it is NOT easy to do what is best for you at this age. It killed me to give up most of the sports that I play, because I physically couldn’t do it anymore. & to see the disappointment in my coaches faces, it is devastating. I can’t expect them to understand though. How could I? I mean, it’s not like they can see my illness. It’s all internal at this point. So all they see is someone who claims they are in severe pain.
Being someone who greatly values knowledge, it pains me to say that I feel that in this situation ignorance would actually be bliss. Between the pain of the actual condition (which is beyond comprehension to those who haven’t experienced it) and the medications and their side effects, focusing has become a very large problem of mine. Being that I’m in school, this is not ideal!! Sitting in desks for six hours at a time is nearly debilitating and weighs down any chance at a decent mood that I have. In fact I actually can’t even recall a time when I did not feel even the slightest hint of pain. I do my best to mask it, I usually manage to hide how bad it is, but it’s still quite obvious that something is wrong.
Now, there are many things that kill me… Suffering from As,
• I cannot help my family out as much as I’d like
• I want so badly to take care of people, but I cannot even take care of myself
• I can’t do things with my sister all the time and I know it upsets her. I don’t blame her, she can’t understand
• I can’t perform as I’d like in my sports and everything else.
• I can be a very angry person
• I can’t even do something as simple as brush my hair without my arm and shoulder hurting terribly.
• I can see when people distance themselves from me, because I’m ‘sick’.
• One word, NEEDLES! Ahh
• People think it’s just my spine, Trust ME. It’s not.
• I put all of my problems on the people that I love most.
• Knowing that at the age of 16…my greatest fear is the future.
Now, “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”. Right now it may be difficult to see, but dealing with all of this is a part of my life that has led up to where I am today. I wouldn’t trade my experiences for anything. I have so many incredible people in my life that have shown me that I am not alone in this struggle. I have a family that has given me anything that I need in order to succeed. I have a sister, younger than I, who has dealt with me thus far in all of my poor health days. I have a best friend who has stuck with me through the thick and thin, when many would have distanced themselves. I have a basketball coach, who holds my hand for every injection that I get, mind you these are weekly. She had every reason to stay away, yet she chose to stay and take the time to know me and my condition. I love these people more than anything in this world. Having this condition has given be the ability to have relationships with people and value them more than I could have ever even comprehended, had I not had these experiences.
Ankylosing Spondylitis has been the greatest influence in my life. Spreading the word about AS means the world to me. I feel strongly that sometime in the future, working together, things will get better <3
With much Hope,
Muskegone, Michigan United States of America