Ankylosing Spondylitis, huh? What did you say? Ankywhosit Spondoriferous??? Precisely! This is yet another type of arthritis caused by my auto-immune system which from this point forward I’ll refer to as AS. Besides having a whopper of a name, it is a whopper of a disease. Just another of the nastier auto-immune disorders which I have the great pleasure of being diagnosed with. More arthritis you say? In addition to RA? I know, but in for a penny, in for a pound. I never want to say that I did anything halfway, overachiever that I am.
The thing about AS is that it takes joint pain to an entirely new level. Like RA and Crohn’s it causes inflammation and extreme fatigue. Sadly the joint damage caused by RA pales in comparison with what happens with AS. My sad, confused immune system is attacking the major joints in my body like my knees, hips, spine and neck. In addition to inflammation, this disease causes my body to create scar tissue in these joints that eventually hardens and calcifies into bone fusing these joints together. The worst of the damage so far manifests in my sacroiliac joint, that is to say the point at which my hips and spine come together. When the Dr showed me the x-rays confirming this diagnosis he pointed out that they usually only see scar tissue in the hips this bad in women who’ve had 12 or more children. Now you will understand why I laughed outright at this since at age 24, thanks to endometriosis, (a topic for another day) I had to have a full hysterectomy and my 2 kids are ADOPTED! I’m sure the Dr thought I was having a mental break down at that point since I laughed so hard I actually cried, I think I even drooled a little bit, and I’m pretty sure that snot actually came out of my nose because of the snorting. I was just so struck by the sheer irony of that statement it took me a full 3 minutes to recover myself enough for him to continue.
This fun disease also causes other strange complications that you wouldn’t normally associate with joint disease. Some of the more interesting side effects that I’ve encountered are dryness and pain of the eyes, difficulty breathing at times, and sadly this one adds to the inflammation in my bowels that is already there with the Crohn’s disease. This means that my Crohn’s symptoms are heightened and enhanced, oh the joys!
The pain in my hips has been particularly difficult to manage lately. Sometimes I get so stiff I have a very pronounced limp in my right hip. Eventually my hips, knees, spine, neck, and possibly even my rib cage will fuse together rendering me completely immobile. There really is nothing funny about today’s post. I hate this one; it hurts both physically and emotionally. The pain starts deep in my hips and knees and radiates outward in pulses. When I try to move or bend over sometimes I get stuck there and can’t straighten for several minutes. This one scares me a little bit. It makes me profoundly sad. AS has deprived me of many of the daily activities that I love doing. I used to be a runner, I loved lifting weights, doing yoga, Pilates, P90X, you name it, and I’ve probably done it. These activities have all become near to impossible for me now, the pain is too great and the damage that I cause when I undertake some of these activities accelerates the disease so the Dr’s have counseled me to stop. I HATE IT! I want to go, go, go! I’ve never liked being idle or feeling lazy and right now I feel like the laziest person in the world. I feel like I’m wasting away, waging a loosing battle against my own body.