I’m currently 18 years old and live in the proud state of Texas. At the age of 17 I was diagnosed with ankylosing spondylitis, but my symptoms started to appear a little over 7 years ago. Due to my AS starting in my knees, my doctor thought I was just overexerting myself with all of the sports that I would participate in. After all, horseback riding, lacrosse and gymnastics are all high impact and I had no other reason to believe this would not be the cause of my ongoing pain. Well after several years of ignoring the pain and pushing through it with ice packs and heating pads, I finally said to myself that there had to be something more than what the doctors thought. So I made appointment after appointment with my pediatrician to try to convince him that there was a problem. Finally after begging the doctor and my mom numerous times to listen to me, I was able to visit a rheumatologist. Within in the first visit, I had a possible diagnosis of AS but needed an MRI and blood work to confirm. I tested negative for HLA-B27 and all of my blood work came back as normal. However, the MRI showed high amounts of inflammation around my SI joint and lumbar region. It also showed that I have partial fusion, a bulging disc, an underdeveloped disc, erosion and squaring of my vertebrae, and that the nerves and ligaments in my spine are being compressed. I face this disease every day and I am trying my hardest to not let it win in this fight. Even though I am struggling to get my AS under control I know that I am not alone and that there is hope. No way will I let this win and I have a strong mind, great doctors, and caring friends, family and community to thank for it.
I also want to say thank you to Cookie for creating this project and allowing us to get our stories out there. Your project is helping many people just like me realize that we are not alone and that just because we have AS, it does not mean that it has to run our lives. So thank you so much Cookie! You are a real inspiration in my life and I’m sure many others can agree with that
Texas, United States of America