Hello AS community! My name is Thad and I am in Atlanta, GA.
I had started a really detailed analysis and description of my struggle with AS. I had been reading “Faces” for awhile now thanks to my wife finding it. I have recently had two events compel me to scrap that idea and just speak from the heart.
I am a big West Virginia University fan both football and basketball. I belong to a WVU sports forum…I jokingly posted a thread asking what local good eats could be smuggled into the Med Center there as I am having my first back surgery at the WVU Spine Center soon. I got an odd private message from a guy named Mike. He had never posted on that board and felt “compelled” to reach out to me(so I guess I am “paying it forward”). Mike’s brother, Chris, had AS. Chris had hip replacement surgery and fought the good fight against this insidious disease and yet sadly, Chris ended his fight. I know his brother Mike plans to post his story here on “Faces”. I know he will do a much better job than I can. Suffice it to say, I have now been adopted by a new brother who shares a disdain for AS and a love of The Mountaineers.
The second event that compelled me to post here on “Faces” was Cookie’s recent post sharing milestones and unfortunately our losses. Any loss to AS is one too many…I now know of 5.
I have now had AS for 30 years…I have lost 7″ in height as bone fusion has taken over. It took 20 of those years to even diagnose me. I will not bore you with all the details of meds and such I have been through. I am now, because of ” quality of life” issues, electing to have a “wedge” of my upper lumbar spine removed in December. It will apparently gain me 2-3″ of height back, take some pressure off of my lungs and give me some pain relief. Am I scared? You bet! I have quite a few secret weapons though! My wife and father are my immediate support (and cheerleaders), my Aunts and Uncles, a multitude of friends, my Aquatic Therapists Angel and “Sam” who have been working my rear off preparing me for surgery, and my “brother” Mike along with my new friends here at “Faces”.
Maybe I am too stubborn, mean and ornery to let AS beat me. I don’t know. I DO know when I am having bad days…I rely on my army of secret weapons, gut it out, place a smirk on my face (a smile is hard sometimes) and cheer on my Mountaineers!
I will now add my “Faces of AS” family as a team to root for!
Thanks for reading,
Georgia, United States of America