I didn’t know I had AS untill I was about 25. I have had all the usual symptoms from the late teens, for me it’s mostly pain in the hips and lower back, but also stiffness in the neck and upper back. AS is also in my familiy, but no close relatives are affected. I had Iridocyclitis during my mandatory army service, and also struggeled with fatigue, but I never wanted to be that “sick guy” – so I never really looked for the cause until years later.
About 6 years later I was really suffering from a lot of the symptomes of AS. And finally had to go seek medical help. I was diagnosed and set on different drugs. They never really helped at all, so now I’m only taking about three 50mg Voltaren/Diclofenac a day. As long as I keep the pain at bay I can be pretty active physically, and that seems to help better than any drugs.
December 2010 I was really getting a serious infection in my hip joint, and was rushed to hospital with an infection. My CRP test was in the hundreds, and I had to undergo surgery to clean the infectious hip joint. I spent a few weeks in the hospital, and after that I haven’t had to have any operations, but have been hospitalised for the infection and received intravenous antibiotics. I know the hip joints will have to be replaced sooner or later, they are really worn down by the continous infection.
For me the fatigue and the fact that I can no longer shoot my guns in a proned position is the worst thing. I love shooting, and it keeps me active, as long as I can do all other sorts of shooting I guess I’m fine. This hobby makes me forget the pain for a few hours, even though I get punished when I get home and sit down in the couch – then all my joints stiffen up.
I still participate in the yearly military practices required here, and haven’t made an issue about my disease. I still don’t want to be “that guy”, I only have one year left, and for myself it has been a huge goal to live as normal life as possible. I’m lucky to have a job where my sitting/standing position can be varied. I’m also very lucky to have a wonderfull girlfriend who supports me during all the hard times aswell, it can’t be easy to see your loved ones hospitalized, and I often feel it’s worse for her than it is for me then.
Even though I have AS, I don’t feel beaten by the disease. I know there will be set-backs, and challenges, but I still feel strong. This is just what I’ve been dealt in life, and even though I won’t be able to beat it I will manage to live with it!