My story starts back in my college days in the late 90’s when after spending the year playing varsity hockey as I always played sports since the day I can remember, I loved being athletic, I even lifted weights… I woke up to sharp spasm like sensations down both my legs leaving me in tears of the unknown and considering some kind of sports injury when in fact it was Ackylosing Spondylitis starting its attack on my spine and of course all of my joints. I recall having such painful symptoms that at one point when getting out of bed I had to roll out onto the floor, then lift myself up using the beds mattress for support just to stand. I worked in the Bar & Restaurant hospitality business at the time serving tables and there were days that I was in so much pain that I sometimes think back to how did I do it… I spent from 1998 to 2003 not knowing what was wrong with my back and why I had all these sharp pains down my legs and shoulders joints and neck. I tried a chiropractor with no success, I tried yoga and that made me feel uncomfortable in certain positions… So I just thought hey, I must have taken a fall or hit playing sports and it messed up my back, I was 23 years old at the time and decided to take it one day at a time, but without knowing what was wrong. I even had my doctors check me out with blood work, ex-rays, etc. But no one had a solution to what was causing this chronic back and joint pain. One day I was at work and my eye became very sensitive to light, a stabbing feeling in my eye, I went to the hospital emergency to have it checked out… Turned out I had Iritis… A main side effect of people with Ankylosing Spondylitis… The ER doctor says to me after diagnosing the Iritis in my eye, “Do you have back pain?”. I said yes!! After 5 years not knowing what was wrong it took getting Iritis to solve the mystery. I am currently 38 years old, I have 3 young children and I am living much better now, not suffering from major pain, but again there are days that I can hardly walk still, especially straight. My body is always very stiff and I already have a slight lean forward and I know my lower back has fused already too, how much more only time will tell… I am a strong person and a successful Real Estate agent and even though there are days I feel down about how much pain I am in or that I can’t play hockey any longer, I raise my head and say I can do this for my friends, family and for me! This is a terrible disease that I know many people have no idea how painful it can be and is life changing… I am going on 15 years with AS and 10 years diagnosed. Let’s be strong. God bless.