A.S. Face 1569: Patrick Svoboda Sr.
In 1983 at the age of 19 and married I started having lower back pain. From age 10 up through high school I worked on farms, in factories and everywhere in between. I related my pain with my work history. It became so bad I struggled to get out of bed daily. I went to various doctors, specialists, and chiropractors. They all had their opinions but no real answers. I had my daughter at age 20 and my son at age 21. I still had no answers to what was causing my pain. Three weeks after my son was born my wife left leaving my children and I behind. I had to keep working now more than ever. I remember silently crying myself to sleep countless times. I was sad, frustrated, angry and very afraid. I was hurting and didn’t know where to turn for help. For the next five years I did nothing to find answers to my pain. I simply lived with it. In 1990 I went to see a new chiropractor who suggested a private clinic. The clinic then suggested further testing at a major hospital. At the end of 1990 I had a full body bone scan along with various blood tests. On my 27th birthday I was diagnosed with AS and bone cancer. I just swallowed hard and hoped for the best. I had surgery to rid myself of the cancer. I still had an uphill battle with the AS. By 1992 I was no longer able to work or drive. I struggled to walk and at times was not able to. I was given a walker, wheelchair and hospital bed. My children were now 8 and 7. My fear felt toxic. As the years went by the AS fused my rib cage and chest cavity. I cannot fully expand my lungs thus giving me severe restrictive lung disease. My posture is such that shoulders stick out about 8 inches from the wall. My neck is fully fused. I went from 5’9″ to 5’6″ and weigh 110 lbs. In 2013 I was given new medications that allowed me to walk freely. I no longer rely on medical equipment and do sleep in a regular bed. I am backing doing my large sculptural art and hope to have an exhibit in the coming months. I fully realize the combined struggles of AS and single parenting. It was my children all those years ago giving me the strength to fight and fight hard!! I still have some very rough days but I’m putting one foot in front of the other. I also live with a smile on my face because I get to hear my grandchildren call me Papa.
Minnesota, United States of America