Pete Austin

I was diagnosed with AS in 1984,when i was 26 , although I had plenty of signs( which went unnoticed or were ignored by my  family doctor) as early as 1977, when i was 19, such as two bouts of uveitis ( I was just given the steroid drops and atropine drops ) ,plus sciatica type pains in my lower back and hips..
Although my back got stiffer and was often very painful ,I managed to work as a painter and decorator until 1997, despite the pain and discomfort. I found the stretching to paint ceilings etc good for my AS.
In 1995, I had a serious car crash ( not my fault!) which resulted in a rapid downturn in my physical abilities and a major 2 year flare up of my A S.
I stopped working in 1997 and the department of social security doctor who examined me asked why i had left it so long before giving up work.
i told him that i was determined to pay my way in life for as long as possible and that i didn`t want to become a “social scrounger”. I got told off by him for calling myself that!
15 years and 3 more non fault car accidents later, my AS is having a big impact on my life and i struggle to go fishing ( my lifelong hobby) and can only go if my friends go with me.
Going out socialising is difficult,as i cannot drink standing up and cannot sit for very long unless surrounded by cushions, even then it`s uncomfortable!
Travel is difficult and i only travel places by car if the journey is less than an hour.
I`ve started etanercept tnf blocking injections, which seem to have helped me a bit.hopefully i won`t develop severe side effects as i did with Humira and infliximab anti TNF treatment!
Although i`m single and live by myself, my Staffordshire Bull terrier Ronnie keeps me sane and gives me the motivation to go out for a walk with him.
I have brilliant friends andrelatives who help me domestically if and when i am unable to do things.
Having contacts on facebook who suffer the same thing has made life easier and it`s good to communicate with people all over the world who have AS abd face the same ignorance and problems
Somerset England
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