Real Stories Of Living With AS
Curious to hear how others are managing their AS? Learn how others have managed their AS symptoms and got back to doing what they love.
Hear about Matt’s AS journey.
Matt was living with AS for almost a decade before he received his diagnosis. He had consulted doctors, physios, and chiropractors, but none of them were able to explain the cause of his pain.
His partner, who was in his last year of med school, noticed the pain on his face whilst exercising, and suggested he see a rheumatologist. Shortly thereafter, his AS diagnosis was confirmed.
“Thinking back on it now, I can’t believe that that is how I lived my life for such a long time. AS is a difficult journey, but you are definitely not alone and you can get the most out of your life, trust me.”
All experiences, testimonial and outcomes discussed are those of Matt and are not indicative of all patients’ experiences.
How Mitch Crews got back in the surf
My journey with ankylosing spondylitis (AS) started back in 2009, when I was on the verge of reaching my dreams of becoming a professional surfer. I was just starting out but was told that I truly had what it took to go pro. I had big aspirations and had sponsorships knocking at my door.
But when I was 19 in the junior circuit, my surf career came to a grinding halt. Suddenly, I was experiencing pain that I had never felt before, in my wrist, lower back and my ankles. I went from surfing every day to being bed ridden with no explanation. Being a very fit guy, I was completely blindsided. Everything I loved had been taken away from me and I couldn’t do much at all.
I was lucky that the chiropractor I went to see for the back pain was well informed and suggested I see a rheumatologist straight away and I was diagnosed with AS. At the time, I was told it was possible I might not be able to surf professionally again and my whole world came crashing down.
After being diagnosed, you feel like your whole life is changing. I am thankful that at the time, even though I was scared and there were so many unknowns, I kept a motivated mindset and didn’t let things deter me from asking for more and getting back to the things that I loved.
I want other Australians living with AS to know that persistence and positivity is key. I don’t think I would have been able to achieve what I have if I didn’t back myself and ask my doctors to do whatever they can to help me live as normal a life as possible.
All experiences, testimonial and outcomes discussed are those of Mitch and are not indicative of all patients’ experiences
How Sasha got back to being Sasha
I was in my early 20s when my journey living with ankylosing spondylitis (AS) began. Back then I was into heavy weightlifting, so I was used to experiencing the odd pain here and there if I’d pushed myself too hard in the gym. One day, as I was walking through uni, I experienced a sharp pain that knocked me to the ground – a pain that came on with no trigger and something I’d never felt before.
I saw a doctor who said it was a torn tendon and told me to rest. However, a couple of months passed and my symptoms were getting worse. I was living with limited movement and random bursts of debilitating pain. I felt trapped in an unfamiliar body.
I stopped exercising and became too scared to do any major movements, for fear that I would set off my symptoms. There were days where my AS meant I couldn’t go out and my social life really suffered which took a huge toll on my mental health.
I went from appointment to appointment, had countless x rays and even kept a journal to record my pain. I remember finally thinking ‘enough is enough’ and I backed myself to find answers. I got another opinion from a sports injury specialist who ruled out anything sports related. Instead, he referred me for a blood test and later, to a rheumatologist who diagnosed me with AS.
With the support of my healthcare professionals, a treatment regimen and management plan, I was slowly able to get my AS under control. But this didn’t come easy, I spent two years learning how to trust and love my body again.
I turned to yoga and pilates, and later found a love in aerial and silk classes which helped me to regain my confidence and build my strength at a pace I controlled.
I am thankful to have found passions that have empowered me to be able to reset my life and rediscover myself. To know that I’m living with a spine condition but am still capable of embracing challenges and pushing myself every day. I want others to know that there is life after being diagnosed with AS – it doesn’t need to define you and it shouldn’t hold you back.
All experiences, testimonial and outcomes discussed are those of Sasha and are not indicative of all patients’ experiences
Ready to take control of AS?
Your rheumatologist and healthcare team are your best allies in taking control of AS. It doesn’t matter whether it’s been one or many years since your diagnosis with AS, it’s never too late.
If you think AS is holding you back or impacting your life, it’s time to talk to your rheumatologist about your goals and how you’re managing. Don’t let AS hold you back, take control.
Download the guide to help you make the most out of your conversations with your doctors.