Alison Lorenzo Cox
My name is Alison Lorenzo Cox, I’m 32 and an ASS. ( Ankylosing Spondylitis Sufferer) I’m originally from the UK but am residing in Cape Town, I am a self employed Personal Wellness Coach and leading presently an healthy active lifestyle.
However let me start at the beginning, I don’t think there was ever a time I was not stiff. From a young age I can always remember being a little less flexible than everyone else and put it down to my muscles being just tighter! And bad genes. I was a student dance teacher at my local dance school from the age of 16 which always made me smile especially when it came to demonstrating and my legs were not going to go the height or angles as others, or the back bends that would not come or the constant hobbling after a day’s dancing because in my mind I’ve overdone it, pushed too hard or again was just not built like that.
At 18 was when things started to get more serious constant hip pain, the infamous penguin walk, so much my Spanish father in law recently nicknamed me ‘Penguino’ at the time I thought it was cute but him being in the profession of contortion and knowing a lot more about back problems than me had identified before we even knew.
I had levels of chronic back pain that if I wasn’t in tears I was gritting and grinding my teeth so hard I would make the gums bleed and chew huge holes in the sides of my mouth. I would turn my whole body just to see left or right, bending was none existent in any direction. I would have endless sleepless nights and worse days. I truly felt like an alien in my own body, I was so frustrated that I was young and had the mobility of an highly immobile Old Age Pensioner. I was living off NSAID’s to the point I am now immune to them, I was also prescribed Codeine by my doctor for the pain, however was very careful with these as they are highly addictive and refuse to be a pill popper.
It got so bad sometimes I was the butt of my peers and family’s jokes which in public I would laugh along but the anger would boil inside that at some points in time you would explode with such emotion your family thought you were insane. I was stubborn and refused to see anyone but at the age of 20 finally gave up.
I had a variety of misdiagnosis from chiropractors, Physiotherapists, doctors, osteotherapists, specialists With comical diagnosis’s of floating cartilage, lazy spine, uneven hips, curvature of the spine, lazy muscles.
I had a crazy mix of treatments including, shock therapy, traction, hydrotherapy, heat therapy the list goes on and the bills were worse.
Until I met a Chiropractor who till the day I die will be eternally grateful for he refused to treat me as I was in his words ‘untreatable’ after 3 failed sessions, he demanded I x-rayed my neck and hips.
From these I was immediately referred to my rheumatologist and finally correctly diagnosed in February 2011, yes I was scared but the relief to have a correct diagnosis, that I was not a hypochondriac, this was real and not just bad genes. I didn’t have poor muscle structure just fused sacrum joints and several areas of fusion from the neck down. I was informed I would need hip replacements and to take TNF blockers. Fortunately I was lucky enough to qualify for a clinical trial but this was cancelled 7 months later. I realized from the day Iwas diagnosed that I would do everything possible to prevent progression of my condition. I changed my nutrition (as advised by my rhumy) to a more suitable diet, starting following strictly the guidelines I give my clients, increased my nutritional supplementation including a high dosage of omega’s and glucosamine. I took up Pilates and Yoga aimed for people with arthritis (yes I am the youngest in my class!)
And to date I am proud to say NO hip replacements, currently no meds but this could change I don’t know. My mobility is the best it has ever been, I have movement in my neck which I hardly had, I still have the audible crunch in my ears each time I turn however minus the pain. I can bend in ways I never could I am still limited but can actually bend! And yes there are days I get the aches but it is in a hugely different place to where I was. I firmly believe a positive frame of mind helps and being thankful everyday for the things we have and not getting hung up on the things we don’t. I feel like a whole new Person with awareness not to push to hard and to be a example to others there is HOPE and there are solutions whether you go down the medical or natural route.
Guildford, UK Cape Town, South Africa