A.S. Face 0839: Shari Irwin
I have had Ankylosing Spondylitis for 12 years now. I had recently turned 22 years old when the symptoms started, and I am (almost) 34 now. I have been blessed with wonderful family members, friends and doctors who have supported me throughout the years. My disease became pretty aggressive and I was very worried, at the age of 25, about what the future was going to hold. I was in so much pain, at times barely able to move, and absolutely exhausted all the time. Several years ago my doctor finally started me on Enbrel, which has been like a miracle for me. I have had a great “honeymoon” period due to Enbrel, which has allowed me to feel almost like a normal person, with really bad flare ups being far and few between. I’ve also done everything I can to stay physically active and nutritionally healthy throughout the years, which I think has helped immensely. Unfortunately, the Enbrel has become less effective over the last couple of years, and at times the side effects and financial costs of it are frustrating… but really, I don’t have much to complain about. I know how much worse it could be.
The thing that got me through my darkest moments was focusing on what I could do… even when that was limited. I tried not to dwell on what I couldn’t do, at least not for long, because that accomplished nothing. There were days I didn’t want to fight anymore, but somehow, I kept going. I tried and still try to always remember that the darkest moments always lift, and that the light will find you again. I have intense moments of fear about the future, but I hope I can maintain a positive spirit going forward, as I face some uncertain times ahead with this disease and all the complications it brings.
My greatest hope is that other A.S. patients can find effective treatment like I did, and ultimately that a cure will be found so that we can all be free of this disease.
Spokane, Washington United States