Shawn A.

I was diagnosed with A.S. after returning from Iraq at age 25. There was a period over 6yrs of the VA telling me it was a “herniated disc.” They kept trying to just drug me & up on pain killers & make me go away. I know its a hard one to diagnose and so many ailments have similar symptoms. Luckily they had a younger doctor who thought outside the box and had me tested for the HLA-B27 blood precursor.

Sometimes this stuff is genetic, it wasn’t with me, no one in my family had a history of it. The VA took accountability for it & gave me a high disability rating of 90%. Just like the poor Vietnam Vets who didn’t get help for years, my generation of Iraq & Afghanistan Vets are coming down with weird health issues(leuekemia, Krohns, A.S., Rheumatoid & autoimmune diseases). They could possibly be attributed to exposure to burn pits, squaline in the Anthrax vaccines, depleted uranium, high stress, and exposure to other environmental hazards. There is a book on this called “Vaccine-A,” I recommend anyone else who has health issues & served in the military read. I don’t want to sound like a damn conspiracy theorist, but it’s a known fact the Gov’t doesn’t always have your best interests at heart.

Things went from bad to worse, causing me to resign from work. I experienced numerous symptoms of A.S. siatic pain, sleepless nights, blurred vision(I had just bought LASIK!), urinitis, side pain, back pain, etc. The VA took forever to get me started on the HUMIRA injections. I became irritable & disillusioned by everything, I blamed others, felt like an invalid, felt unable to defend myself or my GF at the time if anything bad happened. It really wears on anyone, but especially me being a young man and feeling as though I was “shot down at my prime.”

I did the HUMIRA injections for a few months, finally had relief from sciatica, krohns like symptoms, sides and back hurting that caused me not to sleep for yrs. it was nice to get some normalcy back in my life, but at the same time the shots have side effects and I like a holistic natural approach. I’m no hippy, but these shots have not had that much long-term testing. I know you can’t believe everything you read but I believe carol Sinclair’s “The Low starch diet” books approach. I now eat low starch and I stopped injections. I keep healthy by eating a diet similar to the Paleo/caveman diet. I have had many relapses & it’s hard as all hell not eating starches at times, but well worth it! I feel pain free, exercise regularly, do cross fit, mountain bike, run, and feel damn good! I don’t listen to the doctors and I keep fighting. Last checkup in the rheumetology clinic, the other vets there were walking with canes, and moving slow, I ran up the damn stairs. The doctors were impressed, said I haven’t gotten worse but improved! The doctor told me off the record “keep up what your doing and we don’t need to see you again if you don’t want to come back”. To which I replied “hell yeah I’m out of this depressing place.”. I say do what works for you, stay positive, eat right, exercise, don’t give.up. I went through yrs. of depression and feelings of lost hope. It’s not over, could always be worse.

I struggle with side-effects still & don’t just live in denial that I don’t have anything wrong with me. I take longer to warm up, recover, feelings of fatigue, etc. But at the same time staying positive, eating right, have all helped me out greatly & I don’t feel like I have health issues as much as before.

In the future I hope to find a way I can work for a non-profit. I want to be able to help others and get my mind off myself. I don’t want to sit around but be a productive part of society, not feeling sorry for myself.

I hope by writing this others can use my story as something they can relate to & to motivate them to stay strong!

Colorado Springs, Colorado United States of America

2 Responses to “Shawn A.”

  1. Dear Shawn,
    Thank you so much for sharing your story with us.
    Sincerely Cookie

  2. Hi Shawn,

    I just read your comment on my posting 🙂 Sounds like we have a similar approach to how we want to manage our disease. I believe in modern medicine and will use it, but I don’t want to become completely dependent on a drug. I think diseases like this require thinking outside the box and experimenting what works best for you 🙂 My Rheumy has told me that range of motion exercises and activity level will be the most important thing in helping manage the disease long term. I would love to meet up with you and the other person you have met locally. I currently work Tuesday nights at a swim school (plus I am not the biggest runner- do you not have any pain from running?) but I would love to plan another time for all of us to meet. I would love to pick your brains! Best of luck and I hope to be in touch soon!

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