Susan Skelly

I was diagnosed almost 11 years ago while I was finishing up my last years at university.  The diagnosis came as a shock to me and left me feeling less than stellar, but I now know that I was lucky to have been diagnosed as quickly as I was – it only took about 5 months from the start of severe pain in my lower back and hips for them to figure it out – and that I was able to start treatment so quickly.

Unfortunately, treatment hasn’t gone well.  I am allergic to the majority of medications used to treat the disease (two of them nearly killed me) and am now resigned to mere pain control.

Putting 11 years down is a daunting task, so I’ll take you through a good day, typical day and bad day for me.

Good day:

Wake up with mild stiffness in lower back – hot shower takes care of that.

Go about my day with only a slight reminder that I am sick with something.

I have about 1 or 2 good days a month.

Typical day:

Wake up feeling like my spine and every joint from the nape of my neck to my knees have been battered by a pack of Lilliputians while I was sleeping.

Shower does not help.  Get ready for work and mentally prepare myself to be shoved and mashed as I ride the bus and then Metro train
into work.

By noon I can feel a migraine coming on, and can’t sit still at work because of the pain.  By 3 p.m. the fatigue starts to set in… and when I say fatigue I mean the feeling that you are carrying a 5-storey brick house around and that your legs are in irons.

By the time I get home I can almost forget about having the energy or strength to do anything – from cooking diner to actually spending real quality time with my daughter.

Bad day:

If I don’t wake up in the middle of the night from the pain, I certainly feel it when the alarm goes off.  The pain is enough to make you cry or be sick.  If I actually get up within an hour it will be a miracle.  My spine feels like it is encased in lava, my joints are all screaming, my body is visibly swollen and my skin is sensitive to the touch of even my pajamas.  Walking feels more like I am willingly shattering my joints with a sledge hammer. I likely won’t manage anything other than to lie on the floor writhing in pain for the next 2-7 hours.  These bad days typically drag on into the next and the next, gradually becoming tolerably bad days until they are simply typical again.

I have about 10 of these days a month.

Moscow, Russia

6 Responses to “Susan Skelly”

  1. Dear Susan,

    Thank you for allowing the world to see such a beautiful young woman, but most of all thank you for allowing the world to hear your voice.

    Sincerely, Cookie

  2. I am so very sorry that you cannot take any of the meds that could help your AS :’-( I wish you more good days than bad and I hope research continues to improve the meds so you will be able to benefit from them as well! Stay strong and know you are not alone. We can all hold each other up.

    🙂 Jenn

  3. Susan,

    I am almost crying to see such a beautiful young woman in your picture ravaged by AS. I am from a young man from Australia, and have had AS for about a year and a half but have had Crohn’s Disease for 14 years. I was diagnosed like yourself, very quickly, but over the last 12 months it has turned my life upside down, however, your strength and courage are to be commended. I have started treating the AS naturally as a lot of meds are reactive with my system like yourself. Please google AS and leaky gut syndrome as i believe gut health is the major cause in AS.


  4. i feel you pain, thanks for sharing!

  5. I can relate too, thanks for sharing, it means a lot to me. I hope you find something that works for you. It is so hard to go with out anything. I had AS and arthritis pain for most of my life and have only been on meds for it for the last 12 years or so..I am 47 now. I wish I could have read a story like yours when I was in my teens or even earlier…I am sure someone reading this who is not diagnosed and wondering, will be encouraged to do something about it.

  6. You have written the chapters of my book….I can completely relate and I hope that someday soon we will all be pain free. All the best!

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