Having a great foundation and support system is vital to the success of anything mighty you are trying to achieve. Being diagnosed with ankylosing spondylitis (AS) is no different. In fact, it is probably even more important to have a strong foundation of support and community. One of the main things my doctor stressed to me was the importance of staying active, eating right, and not smoking. Thankfully, I was not a smoker, I already ate somewhat healthily, and I was very active before I was diagnosed.
Getting into physical therapy and finding out what I can and can’t do helped me a ton. Shortly after I was diagnosed, I stumbled upon a group online called Walk Your AS Off. They do an annual walk that lasts a month — you join a team virtually, you log your steps, and you just do the best you can. Being involved in that was a huge turning point in my life and my involvement with the AS community. I started to feel better — I was connecting with people like myself. I didn’t feel alone with this disease I had previously never heard of before my diagnosis, because people were walking in the name of ankylosing spondylitis all over the world.
My “foundation” was created and I want to help others build theirs, too. So much is going on in the AS world. Walking apps are being designed for us. Support groups are set up for us. This AS Life recently wrote about an app that was developed by Self Care Catalysts in partnership with the Canadian Spondylitis Association — the AS Health Storylines app. If you don’t want to carry a journal around with you and it is easier to use your phone, now you can! This is such exciting news for the AS community: We are being heard, research is being done, and progress is being made.
It is up to us to use the tools available to live productive lives despite this disease. The men and women of the AS community who work tirelessly, advocate, and raise awareness for this disease each and every day are helping to save lives. They are also, hopefully, helping doctors to cut down on diagnosis time for future generations. A lot of work remains to be done. Hiccups in the system and frustrations about healthcare still exist, but as long as we have a solid foundation and a community to rely on, there will always be hope.
Note: Ankylosing Spondylitis News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Ankylosing Spondylitis News, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to ankylosing spondylitis.