Living with ankylosing spondylitis

Arthritis?! Isn’t that for old people? Well, no… My experience with ankylosing spondylitis

I felt like a huge weight came off my chest after making this video. It is important to be open and frank about the challenges we face. I hope to inspire others that suffer from any conditions to keep pushing and to not let it dictate them as a person. Climbing has become such a big part of my identity not only because of how fun it is, but also as a constant reminder that I have managed to persevere beyond what I thought capable of.

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Incurable, the word that changed my life

I sat at the other side of the desk to my rheumatologist, something I was used to by this point. But this wasn’t quite the normal visit. My mum sat slightly behind me, questioning the Doctor on what the solution was to all my problems. Nothing could prepare me for what I was about to hear. “This condition is incurable.” My heart sank.

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Doodles Dealing with Arthritis

When I learned about ankylosing spondylitis it was immediately made clear that it’s not simply “back pain”. I can relate. I’m so sick of people assuming I’ve just hurt my knees somehow. Yet, these personal frustrations have helped me realize how important it is to listen to people with different experiences, and not immediately try to fix them, but learn from them.

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Smoking with ankylosing spondylitis? The worst idea ever!

Nowadays, it’s a widely accepted fact that smoking tobacco is harmful to your health in so many ways. In fact, an estimated 80,000 people die each year from diseases caused by smoking in the UK alone. Several scientific research studies have found tobacco smoking can worsen your ankylosing spondylitis, especially if you’re one of the heavy smokers.

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Pink Elephants and World of Warcraft

I am Canadian and, well, here in Canada, we have maple syrup in abundance, and the glorious poutine which is chips smothered in gravy and cheese curds. Also, I’m HLA-B27 positive and this is my story.

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Keep going, there’s a hope in motion!

After looking at maps for hours, I developed a desire to go out there, explore and discover. So, in 2009 I decided to cycle from Switzerland to China. Since then I’ve cycled more than 40,000km, crossed 28 countries, exchanged thousands of smiles and fulfilled many incredible dreams!
However, my world was shaken last year. I discovered a new companion in my life called ankylosing spondylitis.

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My Battle With An Invisible Illness

“Move towards the ball!” shouted my friends, as I struggled to limp towards their simple passes on the football pitch.

I was just eighteen, but I felt like I had the body of an 80-year-old. I couldn’t play sport. I couldn’t walk up the stairs properly on some days. It even hurt to take deep breaths. Anything which involved some degree of movement – I couldn’t do it.

Looking back, it was obvious that something was seriously wrong with me.

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The Gorilla In Your House

Acquiring a disability is a bit like getting home to find there’s a gorilla in your house. You contact the approved and official channels to get rid of infestations of wild animals (in this case, the NHS) and they umm and aah and suck air in through their teeth before saying something roughly equivalent to “what you’ve got ‘ere, mate, is a gorilla, and there ain’t really a lot what we can do about them, see…” before sending you back home to the gorilla’s waiting arms.

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