Christopher Henderson

My AS story goes like this: I was diagnosed very quickly which I suppose is a tremendous blessing after considering the stories of others who have submitted their history on this site.
I was originally born in England, however, emigrated to Australia when I was 10 years old.  I spent most of my childhood outdoors, playing organised sports and surfing and enjoyed the type of lifestyle any boy dreams of who is active, motivated and a lover of the outdoors and nature.  I was pretty fit and mostly healthy during my teenage years with no sign of what was to come.  When I finished high school I traveled back to England to pursue higher education at University. After six months at Uni I fell ill with stomach complaints that left me in hospital for a week, with no diagnosis and sent home with a message that it was all in my head!! After continued illness I decided to come back home to Australia where I saw a GP as soon as I got back home and was sent for various tests and X Rays and a positive result for Crohn’s Disease was mine!!
The disease progressed very quickly and within two years I underwent emergency surgery to remove some of my colon and small bowel, which at 21 was a harrowing experience that tests your resolve. From that point on I read and studied about Nutrition and Alternative therapies and applied these religiously for the next 10 years of my life as I rebuilt myself emotionally and physically where I was playing a lot of sport again and living a full life.
This is where the story turns ugly for me, just a few months after my 30th birthday I woke one morning and felt searing pain in my left hip, I didn’t know what it could be except maybe too much tennis?? I booked in for a course of physiotherapy but after six weeks of work I was no better, only worse!! At this point enough was enough and I went to see my trusted GP who was managing my Crohn’s Disease and he immediatly sent me for blood tests to check for HLA-B27 positivity as well as X Rays on my hips. On one hand his discernment afforded me a quick diagnosis but on the other hand I couldn’t believe this was happening to me.
That was two years ago and to tell you the truth that time is a bit of a blur, but thankfully now I have a great team around me from Rheumatoligist, Naturopaths, Support Groups and Friends who share the same illness, It has given me a wake up call that it doesn’t matter who you are debilitating illness can strike you and drain a lot of your mental, emotional and physical resources in a short space of time, to counteract this internal terrorist I have thrown myself into advocacy issues, creating support networks and trying to publish a book about personal experiences with AS.  Even though at times I feel that my body has let me down and I’m not the person I used to be, I think of all the amazing people who have posted their own stories whose courage and faith and perseverance through the toughest trials puts my story in the shade!!
I now realise that it has been my longstanding gut/bowel issues that have slowly and insidiously contributed to the formation of my AS and I am again studying the cause and effect that these factors have in the disease development.  I have been testing the No Starch diet proposed by Carol Sinclair and even though I cheat at times, If I stick religiously to this regime I can feel benefits almost immediatley.  I have yet to try biologic medications as yet, however, I will never say never although I do believe whatever medical or alternative therapy route you take you must be settled with it 100% in your heart and never back down from the decisions you make.
Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

One Response to “Christopher Henderson”

  1. Dear Christopher,
    Thank you so much for sharing your story with us. I admire anyone who takes something negative and makes it into something positive. I wish you the best on your book. Sincerely Cookie

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