Me: “You know you tweaked the Wedding vows?”
Katrina: “Yes…”
Me: “You didn’t get rid of the sickness, and health bit did you?”
Katrina: “No…”
Me: “Jolly good!”


I posted this on Facebook on the 23rd of November this year and, apart from Katrina, no one else understood just what I was posting.

It attracted, as most of my posts do, derisive comments about my suffering from Man Flu… again – which is fair enough as I’m often guilty of feeling sorry for myself – usually with a massive dollop of sarcastic self-depreciation thrown in for good measure. More often than not when I’ve forgotten the effect tea tree shampoo has on the more sensitive bits of my anatomy.


Then, Wednesday last week (the 13th, don’t you know), my diagnosis of AS was confirmed by a Rheumatologist. It’s been an odd journey getting a diagnosis, and I’m still not sure what to do about it yet.


It all started during the Summer when I apologised for staggering back from the target like an old man to the retired GP who I was sharing a boss with at an archery session. He graciously said not to worry and said that it was entirely understandable for someone who was disabled. “Disabled?”, I asked, “What do you mean?”.

He looked a bit embarrassed, and I left it at that, but it got me thinking. So a week or two later I asked again over a pint, and he said he thought I must have known that I had Ankolysing Spondylitis.

I read up about AS, and it seemed to make some sense, so I made an appointment with my GP.

My GP is lovely. She took my being convinced that I was having heart problems in her stride (turned out it was something like tennis elbow, but in my shoulder – caused by carrying too much takeaway food home from the local Chinese and all thanks to being too tight to pay £2.00 for delivery). Neither did she bat an eye at me managing my own type 2 diabetes (it’s well in remission thanks to a low carb diet). But she did take this seriously, especially as I said that a retired GP had tentatively diagnosed it.


Anyway, after seeing the results from a blood test, she phoned through the news that I was positive for the HLA-B27 gene. Then she made an appointment for me to get x-rayed at the local hospital in Ely.


Much hilarity ensued as I changed into the backless gowns used in such institutions – thankfully the walk to the x-ray machines was short as I was not wearing suitable pants… it’s not Xmas yet, so my stock of undies is running low, and those that remain are getting a little threadbare.

Again, she phoned a couple of days later saying that there were indications that there was damage to whatever it was that was being x-rayed in my pelvis, so she made me another appointment, this time with a Rheumatologist.

I asked Katrina to come along because I was getting stressed by this point. I’m not sure why I was getting stressed – it wasn’t as though it was going to be all that earth-shattering, having a name for something shouldn’t make all that much difference should it?


Except that having a diagnosis has made a difference. I know what the prognosis is but those things that are meant to help are all the things that I’ve been doing for as long as I can remember.


Trying to keep my weight down, however, is more problematic than I’d hoped – I’m blaming the beer as, when I attempted Sober October this year, I didn’t sleep for three nights straight (the hallucinations were fun though). I guess that now I’m on some new NSAID that I’ll not have the excuse of using alcohol as pain relief, but it’s been about 25 years now, and I’m not sure my body can cope without a pint or two on an evening.

Anyway, the Dr Sykes was lovely and looked at x-rays from 7 years back as the most recent hasn’t made their way over to him yet and he saw significant damage even then. He checked my range of movement in my back and tutted (I’ve always wondered why my back was so stiff – seems as though it’s fusing together or something. There was me trying to relax and unwind, and there was bugger all that would’ve unkinked the bugger unless I’d have wanted to try a chisel).


He, as I noted above, said something about NSAIDs and they seem to be working – but goodness me I do I know when they’re wearing off. I guess that I’d previously just gotten used to the level of discomfort and got on with things. But that set of hours when I wasn’t aching means that when I am, I bloody well notice it and I’m grumpy as anything (sorry Katrina!).


So the diagnosis shouldn’t make a difference as I’d been doing everything I should’ve for other reasons. Giving up smoking wasn’t an issue thanks to vaping, and I’ve never had a sweet tooth. The gym is an excellent excuse to listen to audiobooks and the dog loves the extra walks. So why am I discombobulated? I guess that’s rhetorical; I’ll get over it soon I’m sure.


Dom started working as a carer for the disabled at the age of 18 before training as a nurse. After a couple of decades of nursing, he moved into a role he thoroughly loves. You’ll find him wandering around the internet playing, learning and teaching new shiny technologies. He’s also a Grandfather – but don’t think that makes him old!

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