My name is Nikita Hill and I was diagnosed with Ankylosing Spondylitis in 2007 after six years of suffering from back and hip pain and stiffness. In the years prior to 2007 I saw orthopaedic specialists who misdiagnosed me with chronic back pain/sciatica. It wasn’t until I had an accident at home during the Christmas holiday season of 2006 that eventually led me to a spine specialist who had a hunch (excuse the pun) that I had AS. It was this Dr who ordered blood work that came back positive for the HLA-B27 gene. He then referred me to a rheumatologist and connective tissue Dr who diagnosed me with Ankylosing Spondylitis. The rheumatologist said that I was misdiagnosed in the past because I, as an African American female, didn’t look like the typical AS patient. The vertebrae in my neck are completely fused, therefore I have no movement in my neck and a bent forward (stooped) position. AS has had a tremendous effect on my life, especially socially. I used to enjoy and look forward to spending time with family and friends. Now I’m not as socially active as I used to be because of limited range of motion. It often takes extra effort for me to do things that normal healthy people see as everyday tasks/chores. In the beginning I used to feel self conscious about going out in public (the looks, the stares) but I can now say that I won’t let AS hold me as a prisoner and keep me from living the life that God has predestined for me. Evident in how He is using me everyday, it is my faith and belief in my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ that sustains me and encourages me to never ever give up. Whenever I need strength and encouragement in this battle against Ankylosing Spondylitis I read Luke 13:10-13. I Am hopeful, strong and determined to Win!