A.S. Face 1022: Kym Banting
I was a very active 28 year old. I had started competing in triathlons and was about to compete in my first Half Ironman when I broke my big toe (during a race). After a period of rest and recovery I started running again only to find that I had this pain in my butt (sciatica I thought). I assumed that it was because I had been walking funny because of the broken toe and assumed that it would get better as my gait returned to normal. But despite some anti-inflammatories it only got worse. Luckily I was able to get diagnosed with AS fairly quickly (within 6 weeks of the first symptoms) because my brother had been diagnosed with it years earlier. I asked my doctor to test me for the HLA-B27 gene and she at first said “No – women don’t get that!” When I explained the family history she agreed to test me and sure enough I had the gene. Another stroke of luck was that I had a client (I am a realtor) who was a rheumatologist and I was able to call her directly and got in to see her within a week (the usual wait time can be months). So with a diagnosis I was able to get on some medication that actually helped me (Vioxx at the time) and despite the odd flare I was pretty much pain free for the next couple of years. During that time I competed in and finished my first Ironman triathlon (Ironman USA Lake Placid 2002) and ran the Ottawa Marathon (2003).
I also got married and then decided that it was time to start a family. This necessitated me stopping the Vioxx that I had been relying on for almost 3 years. They didn’t know what effect it would have on a baby so I decided to go off all medication. I had many flares and had a lot of trouble sleeping – I started sleeping in my bed at night but when woken up from the pain I immediately moved to a recliner chair that was beside my bed and slept the rest of the night in the chair – it was the only thing that got me through it. We ended up with 2 beautiful little boys. Luckily my AS was pretty good during each pregnancy and has been much better since then. It moved out of my SI Joints and seemed to effect mainly my mid-back which was manageable by day and really only caused me challenges at night.
I now take a Voltaren for pain management each night before I go to bed and no longer have to sleep in a chair! I was able to get back into triathlon and running after the boys were born and completed my second Ironman Triathlon in August 2012 (Ironman Canada in Penticton, BC) and my first Challenge Penticton this year. I am currently training for my first 50 km ultra trail run. I stay as active as I can because the more active I am the less the pain and the less drugs I have to take. I am a firm believer that exercise helps with the management of this disease. So I plan on remaining as active as possible for the rest of my life. I get a massage once/month and physiotherapy once/month so that I can remain as active as I am.
I do worry that my boys will develop the disease but am trying my best to instill in them a love of being active and hope that if they do develop it that they will be able to lesson their pain by living a healthy lifestyle.
British Columbia, Canada