A.S. Face 0861: Colette Barnes
My name is Colette Barnes & I live in Tasmania, Australia & this year at the age of 56, I was diagnosed with AS. I’m HLA-B27+ & recently learned that my brother & grandfather both had AS in their 20’s which mainly affected their heels but not so much their spine. I’ve had chronic neck pain for 10 years & spent most of that time looking for a reason. (I also experienced pain in my elbows over that period but it was my neck that worried me the most). The advice of & treatment by physiotherapists, chiropractors, an osteopath & acupuncturist & lots of massage therapy seemed to make little difference.
18 months ago I started to feel pain in my SI joints which typically was worse early morning & lessened with exercise as the day progressed. This pain increased considerably over a few months to become excruciating as my back went into spasm on a daily basis & I was unable to move & barely breathe until it passed. I sought the advice of several doctors, had three trips to the emergency department of two different hospitals (one by ambulance), but, as I was fit & otherwise healthy, no one could explain the cause of my pain & I was sent home with strong painkillers & an anti-inflammatory to spend most my days drugged & feeling nauseous.
Then, 6 months ago, after being in continuous & excruciating pain & not eating for 3 days I ended up in hospital yet again. There, 2 days after being admitted & having a CAT scan & pelvic ultrasound (both showing nothing untoward), my appendix ruptured. Following emergency surgery I recovered quite quickly & noticed that the pain in my SI joints & neck had completely disappeared. In fact I was totally pain free for almost four weeks! However, eventually the pain returned making me determined to find out what its cause was why I was pain free for that period. I googled everything I could possibly google to do with joint pain & discovered this strange condition, Ankylosing Spondylitis.
I shared my suspicions with my GP who agreed to refer me to a rheumatologist & run a genetic test. Its positive result gave me even more determination to learn more & having a life long interest in nutrition & fitness, I read everything I could find on the use of diet in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis & particularly AS. I came across this as this beautifully crafted essay http://www.thepointmag.com/2012/essays/plea-human-food & studied the research of Professor Alan Ebringer et al. & http://www.kickas.org/ . & learned how to keep my inflammation to a minimal & manageable level with a no starch diet. As my family & I were already following a low carb Paleo lifestyle, going no starch wasn’t a great leap. Occasionally, if I slip up, I need a painkiller or NSAIDs but am pretty dedicated to avoiding pain!
My GP & Rheumatologist are completely supportive of my decision to control this condition through diet & are even impressed with the results I’ve had so far. I wish more research would be conducted into the effects of diet on AS & I’m so thankful that I’ve found relief. Thanks Cookie for creating this community for ASers that Faces is. Reading of the experiences of other sufferers is sometimes so sad, often confronting & sometimes uplifting & motivating.