A.S. Face 0271: Kirk Vagg
My name is Kirk Vagg and I live in Queensland, Australia.
My Ankylosing Spondylitis symptoms began the year I started at university when I was 18 years old. I had previously been very sporty and participated in many high-level athletic competitions. I also played a wide range of sports. When I began university, my sports were put on the back-burner because I was so busy studying…and this was when AS reared its ugly head.
I spent seven years in agony – getting massages, heat and cold packs, pulled and tugged by chiros, injected with cortisone..the list just keeps on going. Sometimes I would feel brief relief, but the pain would be back the next day. It was thought that I had many other things (slipped disk, pinched nerve, etc) before one specialist decided to test me for the AS gene: HLA-B27 after I developed a bad case of Iritis (inflammation of the eye). The test came back positive and finally I had some answers! I was put on some pretty heavy medication (Salazopyrin) which were giving me mouth ulcers and unfortunately my back pain was still very much a part of my life. I found it hard to walk, get in and out of the car, get out of bed, stand, sit, turn my body or head to look at something, shift my weight from one foot to the other, etc.
A friend of mine had a nephew who was also diagnosed with AS and she said her nephew had experienced great success on the TNF blocker, Humira. I decided to give this new drug a go and amazingly the pain stopped! I thought I had found my answer and I would be set for life! I had to take Humira fortnightly as injections which I needed to give myself. I did develop some very nasty mouth ulcers quite often, but put up with it when I would think of this comparison to my AS pain.
When my wife and I decided to try for a baby, I stopped my injections for the time being and experienced no pain for nearly a year. Gradually though, the AS pain crept back until I was having the same problems as before. I didn’t really want to go back on Humira again, as my friend’s nephew found the drug became inaffective after a while and he has now had to move on to stronger medication. I also believe that food can be your medicine and I really wanted to get to the root of what flared up AS instead of just masking the problem with drugs, and then in turn causing other health problems with the side affects. I strongly believe that food can heal.
Just recently, my wife and I have become engrossed in so much research on how food and diet can eliminate AS symptoms. We stumbled across the findings of Dr. Ebringer, kickAS.org and have read through Carol Sinclair’s book: ‘The Sinclair Diet: Eliminate IBS Pain’, plus many other sources and studies. Since our findings, I have now cut out all starch from my diet and my AS pain has dramatically decreased! If I have a small amount of starch, the AS pain reappears.
Changing eating habits can be a bit overwhelming at first, but I know that it is definitely worth it! No piece of bread or potato is worth the AS pain and possible outcome of being in a wheelchair. My wife has a blog at www.farmerkskitchen.com, where she has written about my story with Ankylosing Spondylitis and some recipes that we use to treat it.
Wishing everyone the very best! Kirk