A.S. Face 0401: Christopher Henderson
My AS story goes like this: I was diagnosed very quickly which I suppose is a tremendous blessing after considering the stories of others who have submitted their history on this site.
I was originally born in England, however, emigrated to Australia when I was 10 years old. I spent most of my childhood outdoors, playing organised sports and surfing and enjoyed the type of lifestyle any boy dreams of who is active, motivated and a lover of the outdoors and nature. I was pretty fit and mostly healthy during my teenage years with no sign of what was to come. When I finished high school I traveled back to England to pursue higher education at University. After six months at Uni I fell ill with stomach complaints that left me in hospital for a week, with no diagnosis and sent home with a message that it was all in my head!! After continued illness I decided to come back home to Australia where I saw a GP as soon as I got back home and was sent for various tests and X Rays and a positive result for Crohn’s Disease was mine!!
The disease progressed very quickly and within two years I underwent emergency surgery to remove some of my colon and small bowel, which at 21 was a harrowing experience that tests your resolve. From that point on I read and studied about Nutrition and Alternative therapies and applied these religiously for the next 10 years of my life as I rebuilt myself emotionally and physically where I was playing a lot of sport again and living a full life.
This is where the story turns ugly for me, just a few months after my 30th birthday I woke one morning and felt searing pain in my left hip, I didn’t know what it could be except maybe too much tennis?? I booked in for a course of physiotherapy but after six weeks of work I was no better, only worse!! At this point enough was enough and I went to see my trusted GP who was managing my Crohn’s Disease and he immediatly sent me for blood tests to check for HLA-B27 positivity as well as X Rays on my hips. On one hand his discernment afforded me a quick diagnosis but on the other hand I couldn’t believe this was happening to me.
That was two years ago and to tell you the truth that time is a bit of a blur, but thankfully now I have a great team around me from Rheumatoligist, Naturopaths, Support Groups and Friends who share the same illness, It has given me a wake up call that it doesn’t matter who you are debilitating illness can strike you and drain a lot of your mental, emotional and physical resources in a short space of time, to counteract this internal terrorist I have thrown myself into advocacy issues, creating support networks and trying to publish a book about personal experiences with AS. Even though at times I feel that my body has let me down and I’m not the person I used to be, I think of all the amazing people who have posted their own stories whose courage and faith and perseverance through the toughest trials puts my story in the shade!!
I now realise that it has been my longstanding gut/bowel issues that have slowly and insidiously contributed to the formation of my AS and I am again studying the cause and effect that these factors have in the disease development. I have been testing the No Starch diet proposed by Carol Sinclair and even though I cheat at times, If I stick religiously to this regime I can feel benefits almost immediatley. I have yet to try biologic medications as yet, however, I will never say never although I do believe whatever medical or alternative therapy route you take you must be settled with it 100% in your heart and never back down from the decisions you make.
Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia