A.S. Face 0120: Andy Burns

Hi my name is Andy Burns and I have ankylosing spondylitis.
I am originally from Scotland but I live in Toronto Canada now and have been here 6 years.
I only got diagnosed almost 2 years ago but I have had back problems since 2001.
Back then I had an accident at work and following that I had a very bad car accident where I was lucky to be alive. Right after both these I started suffering from severe back pain.
The doctors just told me to rest and take pills. For 4 years I kept taking pills for pain where none of them worked so the pills kept getting stronger and stronger to the point I gave up. I wasnt getting the advice or help I needed so I decided to change careers. At the time I was a heavy machine operator. Time after time I kept changing my career to try to find something I could bear. Nothing worked so I just dealt with it. It wasn’t pleasant as you all know. Going to bed was fine, it was getting out of bed that hurt. Then as my day went on I became more motivational.
This was now my life’s roll.
6 years ago I moved to Canada and got into construction again. Because Canada isn’t a damp country my pain lightened a little.
I am and always have been a very active guy. I played sports all my life and could do anything.
2 years ago I was part of a soccer team and I was getting pain in my achilis tendant. Following this I went to my doctor. They sent me for lots of test and results came back that it was tendinitis. I asked if it was related to my back and got told a straight NO.
I got referred to different specialist where I asked the same question and always got same answer.
By this time in my life I was now on a cane. Active Andy has gone, my wife was helping me out of bed every morning, helping my put socks on, helping me get in and out of cars. I couldn’t bear this. Why me I kept asking. I can’t go on like this.
Now I couldn’t work so I decided to open my own business so I could hire guys to do the work for me.
I then got an appointment with a rheumatologist. This guy was a complete loser!! Arrogant and time-wasting!!  Well that’s what I thought. He examined me and without me saying anything he said my back and foot could be related problems. This is where he sent me for numerous scans, blood test and so on.
A few weeks went by and he called me in. He told my I have ankylosing spondylitis. Not knowing or heard of this before I went home and right on google. Shocked!!! Completely shocked. This can’t be true I kept thinking. I now a have a non curable disease.
I am a strong-minded person so I started to read up more and more and started changing my ways. Eating healthier, trying to be more active instead of resting.
My rheumy called me back in to tell me I can take this medication called Simponi but it’s going to cost me $18,000 a year. Nothing like kicking me while I’m down. How can I afford this.
I tried the longer route by asking for help from ohip and successfully got it. I was now approve to get one years worth of the drug.
This is where my life was about to change for the better.
I took my first dose and within the first week I put my cane away. By the second week I was rolling out of bed myself, by the third I was putting my own socks on again and so on.
Now , today and every other day I am back. I took up cycling , joined a gym, started soccer again and even took up snowboarding.
I’m not completely cured as you all know. I still have my days but all in all I’m a new man. I act different, I think different, I have a whole new outlook on life. I treat people different and have a whole new respect for everything. I even adopted a new family. You guys!!!!!
I have had so much support and help from fellow ASers and I thank you all for what you have done.
Thanks for hearing my story guys.
I’m always here for you if you need support.

Let’s kick AS

Toronto Canada

7 Responses to “A.S. Face 0120: Andy Burns”

  1. Dear Andy,
    Thank you so much for sharing your story with us. You remind me of me in a lot of way, the good things about me. I am a very determined and strong person, with a positive attitude. Here is to Kicking AS together.
    Sincerely Cookie

  2. Great story and a great inspiration! I was just diagnosed last week, and I had the same reaction upon being told I had AS. I had never heard of it before, but once I started reading, all of a sudden everything over the past 15-ish years made sense. I haven’t started treatment yet, other than NSAIDS, but reading everyone’s stories gives me hope!

  3. Thank you for sharing with us Andy. What a wonderful inspiring story! Good for you , for sticking with it and getting answers and then good pharmaceutical help I would say! 🙂
    Keep standing tall

  4. hi andy and other AS sufferers,
    my name is alan mah from singapore. i know i have AS since i was 20 and i am now 42. what i can say about AS is that it can be well control, but not thru western medicine pratice. all they can do is give drugs to ease and camouflage the pain. you will still need it when in pain especially in the initial state when the pain is very unbeareable. but i am a lot better now with very occasional flare up. i would say i am now 98 percent pain free. i have tried many different remedies but still have frequent flare up only till i finally felt really well about 3 years ago. this is what i am taking for the last 3 years, which i felt is the best combination so far.
    1. 8 usana fish oil per day. (sgd 120 a month)
    2. tcm. (sgd 60 a month)
    3. bronson crystal vitamin c 1000g per day(sgd 20 a month)
    4. glucosamine 1 pill per day( sgd 60)
    please dont get me wrong that i am trying to sell anything here. i am really consuming all these on a daily basis and really felt much much better than 20 years ago after taking all these.
    i am also willing to share my experience with you personally if u need help. i hope to spread this message to all AS suffers that AS need not be a crippling ailment. it really can be better. i am contactable at skype: aaremoval

  5. Is there another place besides here on faces of AS that you have a support. Something happened wi the Facebook page and I did get connected with my local group.

  6. Thank you for your story my brother. 🙂

  7. Hi Andie,
    My husband has AS and after years of crippling pain and not knowing why he is now on a monthly Simponi injection which has to be approved by the goverment every 6 months…it has changed his life. He also takes glucosamine and other medication daily but at 63 he can now stay active doing the things he loves.
    All the best to you,

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