Kate Liberty shares how an early axial SpA diagnosis impacted her relationships with family and friends and why she is taking part in Walk Your AS off.
My journey with Ankylosing Spondylitis started in 2016. At 18 years old, I woke up suddenly with sharp ‘lightening like’ pains that started in my lower left back and shot down to my calf. I tried brushing it off as something I could have aggravated the day before, but when the same thing happened the following day and every day, I knew something wasn’t right.
I went to the doctor, who sent me for blood tests, and it was apparent that I had high inflammation and carried the HLA-B27 genetic marker. Around 90% of people with axial SpA carry this particular genetic marker so the fact I carry it increased the chances that my symptoms were related to axial SpA. I went for further testing, where I had two MRI scans which presented inflammation in my pelvis. I then received my diagnosis of Ankylosing Spondylitis which was initially quite a shock, but I was lucky to be diagnosed within six months of experiencing symptoms. I know that it can take many years for some people to receive their diagnosis.
I had been going through an extremely tough time with my home life and studying for my A- levels, and the diagnosis was another added stress. At first, I felt very alone with my diagnosis; my family and friends didn’t understand what I was going through, but with time I have received so much support from a wide variety of people and organisations, including NASS. I also have made friends with other people who are going through similar experiences to me through the internet, which has made my journey a lot less lonely.
Like many others, I have good days and bad days, but I will be starting a new biologic treatment soon, so I am looking forward to better days. I was also diagnosed in April this year with Crohn’s Disease, and I am currently getting good support and treatment.
I have decided to take part in the Walk your AS off challenge to help raise money for NASS. I want to give back to this fantastic charity that has offered me so much advice over the last six years and be able to help fund other people who are perhaps newly diagnosed and need that support. My grandad also had axial SpA, so I want to do this for him too. I also want to prove that despite having AS, I can achieve anything I put my mind to.
Feeling inspired? There is still time to sign up for Walk Your AS Off .