It feels like I’ve been in pain forever. In fact, I can’t ever remember a time when I didn’t have pain in some part of my body. In my early 20’s the year before I married my high school sweetheart, that’s when I remember it becoming really noticeable. My hips were in a lot of pain. I went to my doctor who sent me off to the osteopath. I pretty much lived in his treatment room for the next couple of years. When the osteo couldn’t help me I tried accupunture. Then it was back to my doctor who sent me off to have a scan. It revealed nothing and the specialist I saw brushed off my pain and made me feel like it was all in my imagination. My doctor prescribed me painkillers which just made me feel sick & tired. I think it was at that time I thought ‘well, this is me, this is my body, there’s something wrong with me and nothing is going to fix the pain I am in’.
Over the years, I didn’t bother to go back to a doctor to pursue it. I felt there was never any point because my Doctor didn’t know what was wrong with me, the specialist said there was nothing on the scan, the osteo, accupuncture and physio never provided any relief. I just lived with the pain. Feeling like I was 100 times older than what I actually was. I have always been an active person. I grew up in a small country town in New Zealand, right next to a lake surrounded by beautiful bush. I was a runner and competed in marathons & triathlons.
When I was 32 I fell pregnant with our first child. I experienced extreme pain carrying our son, right throughout the pregnancy but especially in the last 2 months. I’ve never been in so much pain ever. Not being able to take anything for it was the worst. I had days where I literally could not walk. I cried so many tears, feeling like I was a failure as a person for having such a broken body. I gave birth to our son naturally and in the days that followed I had a flare. I was only able to hold him when sitting down, I couldn’t walk and holding him while standing was not possible.
This year I decided I wanted to start training to do an Ironman. It’s been on my ‘to do’ list for years now and I wanted to do one next year. After my first training session, I couldn’t walk so I took myself off to a new doctor here in Australia. He promptly sent me off to have a scan which revealed degeneration in my hips and lower back. I was prescribed pain relief which sometimes works, but when I’m having a flare – it’s hopeless. I went back to see him a month later and he sent me off for blood tests which revealed markers for AS. I have never heard of AS, and after research and finding support groups I am overjoyed that there are so many people out there who are just like me. I feel like we are all part of this secret club because this is not a disease that is widely known. I feel joy because I am not alone in this anymore. But at the same time I feel sadness that so many of us suffer. For me, finding out that there is ACTUALLY SOMETHING WRONG with me has been like a weight lifted off my shoulders. It’s not all in my imagination. I feel like I’ve joined a new family and am so great full to have meet some wonderfully strong people already.