A.S. Face 0549: Richard Kingham
I experienced the first signs of AS while on vacation in the USA nearly 21 years ago. Initially I felt extremely sharp jolts of pain in my hip joints which
effectively ended my rugby playing days in my first year of university. It was extremely frustrating being told that there was nothing wrong over the next 7 years as the disease progressed. Noone in the medical profession could explain why I was living in constant agony. Just turning over in bed would awaken me with a searing jolt of hot pain. How could they not find the source of such an intense pain? It was puzzling.
At the age of 28 the disease spread to my lower back, neck and sternum. At the time, I thought it was a different condition because since then my hips have not caused me any discomfort. I started taking ibuprofen which I would wash down a few stiff vodkas when the pain seemed unbearable. In 1998 X-rays and blood tests confirmed I had AS. I will never forget being told about an unheard of disease and that my condition
is progressive and Incurable.
Oh boy, did I feel sorry for myself, but only for one day. After that I thought at least I know what I have and can try to manage the symptoms. I had already worked out that exercise helps a great deal so started doing all the stretches to help maintain my flexibilty as well. But for the next 12 years I continued to take a lot of ibuprofen and Tramadol and at night washed them down with vodka to help me overcome the agony and at least get some sleep. The pain was unbearable.
I heard about Humira some time ago but it was not available to me under the public health system in the UK because of the expense. When I moved to the USA the care was significantly better in terms of both the monitoring and treatment. I was told my blood sediment and protein counts were through the roof and I have a lot of bone spurs in my neck. My lower vertebrae were fusing. The doctor prescribed Humira which
had a rapid and very positive impact.
After three days, instead of climbing the stairs in my home like a 70 year old man I could leap up them like a mountain goat. I stopped taking the pain killers and started playing competitive squash again. I am not without pain but nowadays it is much more tolerable. Humira has given me my life back and I’d like to meet the scientists who developed the drug to shake their hands and say thanks. The monitoring shows the disease is not progressing but if I take my Humria just one day late the AS symptoms return with a vengeance. Scary.
I would like to thank the creator of this website for raising awareness and the other sufferers for sharing their stories which normally bring tears to my eyes. Even though many of you have it worse than me, I know how you feel, sympathize, and I will continue to pray that one day you will get some relief from your agony.
Dallas, Texas Unites States of America