A.S. Face 0623: Shawn A.

I was diagnosed with A.S. after returning from Iraq at age 25. There was a period over 6yrs of the VA telling me it was a “herniated disc.” They kept trying to just drug me & up on pain killers & make me go away. I know its a hard one to diagnose and so many ailments have similar symptoms. Luckily they had a younger doctor who thought outside the box and had me tested for the HLA-B27 blood precursor.

Sometimes this stuff is genetic, it wasn’t with me, no one in my family had a history of it. The VA took accountability for it & gave me a high disability rating of 90%. Just like the poor Vietnam Vets who didn’t get help for years, my generation of Iraq & Afghanistan Vets are coming down with weird health issues(leuekemia, Krohns, A.S., Rheumatoid & autoimmune diseases). They could possibly be attributed to exposure to burn pits, squaline in the Anthrax vaccines, depleted uranium, high stress, and exposure to other environmental hazards. There is a book on this called “Vaccine-A,” I recommend anyone else who has health issues & served in the military read. I don’t want to sound like a damn conspiracy theorist, but it’s a known fact the Gov’t doesn’t always have your best interests at heart.

Things went from bad to worse, causing me to resign from work. I experienced numerous symptoms of A.S. siatic pain, sleepless nights, blurred vision(I had just bought LASIK!), urinitis, side pain, back pain, etc. The VA took forever to get me started on the HUMIRA injections. I became irritable & disillusioned by everything, I blamed others, felt like an invalid, felt unable to defend myself or my GF at the time if anything bad happened. It really wears on anyone, but especially me being a young man and feeling as though I was “shot down at my prime.”

I did the HUMIRA injections for a few months, finally had relief from sciatica, krohns like symptoms, sides and back hurting that caused me not to sleep for yrs. it was nice to get some normalcy back in my life, but at the same time the shots have side effects and I like a holistic natural approach. I’m no hippy, but these shots have not had that much long-term testing. I know you can’t believe everything you read but I believe carol Sinclair’s “The Low starch diet” books approach. I now eat low starch and I stopped injections. I keep healthy by eating a diet similar to the Paleo/caveman diet. I have had many relapses & it’s hard as all hell not eating starches at times, but well worth it! I feel pain free, exercise regularly, do cross fit, mountain bike, run, and feel damn good! I don’t listen to the doctors and I keep fighting. Last checkup in the rheumetology clinic, the other vets there were walking with canes, and moving slow, I ran up the damn stairs. The doctors were impressed, said I haven’t gotten worse but improved! The doctor told me off the record “keep up what your doing and we don’t need to see you again if you don’t want to come back”. To which I replied “hell yeah I’m out of this depressing place.”. I say do what works for you, stay positive, eat right, exercise, don’t give.up. I went through yrs. of depression and feelings of lost hope. It’s not over, could always be worse.

I struggle with side-effects still & don’t just live in denial that I don’t have anything wrong with me. I take longer to warm up, recover, feelings of fatigue, etc. But at the same time staying positive, eating right, have all helped me out greatly & I don’t feel like I have health issues as much as before.

In the future I hope to find a way I can work for a non-profit. I want to be able to help others and get my mind off myself. I don’t want to sit around but be a productive part of society, not feeling sorry for myself.

I hope by writing this others can use my story as something they can relate to & to motivate them to stay strong!

Colorado Springs, Colorado United States of America

9 Responses to “A.S. Face 0623: Shawn A.”

  1. Dear Shawn,
    Thank you so much for sharing your story with us.
    Sincerely Cookie

  2. Shawn, thank you so much for taking the time writing these down. I believed that you will overcome all these, because you have a positive outlook in life. You are very strong young man, and you are not like some {not all} people who just sit back and accepted the life of being done and defeated. You are a fighter and you will win this battle. My prayers goes out to you.

  3. Shawn, thank you for your service to our Country and for the amazing story !

  4. Your story sounds very similar to mine. Years of suffering and fighting and diets and now feel closer to normal but wanting to get out there and do stuff. Keep it up. I too think this thing can be overcome.

    • Thanks for the words of encouragement everyone, means a lot. Not sure why I didn’t get notified people commented on my story, by email or something. I’ll have to check my mail server. Stay strong everyone.

  5. Thank you for your story. My husband and myself are in the military , and he was recently diagnosed with AS, I have had spinal fusion, we both want to continue to serve and stay active in our lives

  6. Hey Shawn, thanks for sharing your story and for serving our country. I have been wondering if there are any other Crossfitters out there with AS. I started Crossfit in ’09, but quit for almost a year when I started getting “sick”. When I was at my worst, I thought I would never be able to lift anything again in my life! I couldn’t even bend over to tie my shoes or lift my arms up to put on a shirt. But after the diagnosis and getting started on sulfasalazine, I went back to my box about 2 months ago and I’m feeling much better! Paleo helps a lot, too. If you ever come to Ouray for a mountain get-away, check out Hypoxia Crossfit. 3-2-1 go!

  7. Shawn,

    I just saw your story and would like to get in contact with you. I am currently in the military and am curious how you worked with the VA in linking it to service.

    Greatly appreciate it,


  8. please let me know if possible how this is linked to the anthrax vaccine, I have met several other vets like myself that have A.S. with no family history of it , apparently it is difficult to find the information needed.

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