My name is Robert Parr, and I am 19 years old. I tested positive for HLA-B27 4 years ago, and was diagnosed with a combination of JRA and Ankylosing Spondylitis. I first had symptoms (pain in my SI joints) when I was 14. The symptoms proceeded to get more painful, causing me to seek medical help. After several unsuccessful visits to the Dr. and many pointless chiropractic appointments; I finally got the confirmation that I had AS. Then, I was referred to a Rheumatologist and given Humira. I just recently got changed from taking it every other week, to every week. However, I have managed to stay active and in great shape throughout the entire process. I was lucky enough to have been born to swim. I swam throughout most of the years of my life, and I can say with confidence that swimming everyday holds my pain to a bare minimum. Now I am a sophomore in college and don’t swim nearly as much as I used to. Nevertheless, I still workout almost everyday and mix in cardio throughout the week. The thought of me having AS rarely crosses my mind. I’m lucky to be much more troubled with girl problems, fraternity dues, and school work. So when I read all the other “Face of AS” posts; it humbles me. I’ve only known the pains the disease can cause for a few years of my life. It’s hard to place myself into someone else’s shoes who has been in that awful pain I’ve barely known most of their life. I am very thankful to be on a medicine that allows me be a kid and enjoy my childhood, because there were times when AS was trying to cut it short. I send out sympathy but also encouragement and aspiration to victims of this disease. As hard as the disease makes everyday life, you still have to do what ever it takes to take care of your body; because you owe it to yourself to feel less pain and be more mobile. If anything, AS has toughened me, and shown me what it is like to sit on life’s sidelines for awhile. I learned how hard it was just to make simple goals. It’s hard to try and start something when getting out of bed in the morning is a major obstacle. It can be done though. I promise you that. Through hard work and the right treatment; living with AS can be tolerable. I may be a face of AS, but I wear a pretty good damn mask.
Tennessee United States of America