“My goal is to continue doing a job that I love for as long as possible.”

We received this lovely email from a teacher who made a kind donation to support our work. It’s a wonderful example of how employers can support people living with axial SpA.
We know that not everyone has such a good experience with their employer. If you have any questions or concerns about your rights or ways of managing your axial SpA at work, please download our guide or contact our Helpline team.

“This week, I left my teaching job after 13 happy years and am taking up a new post at a new school. Traditionally, we are given a gift from the Staff Common Room to thank us and wish us luck. I wanted my ‘fund’ to go to NASS because I was diagnosed with AS at 17 (now approaching my 38th birthday). I know the importance of the charity that continues to help me and everyone else who lives with AS.

I am on biologics which help me to keep active. I am one of the very fortunate patients to be under the care of Dr Sengupta at the RUH and enjoy taking part in studies and trials whenever the opportunity arises. Living with AS and being a full-time teacher can be quite a challenge at times. Fatigue is currently my overwhelming symptom, so the start of every well-earned holiday starts with several lazy days to enable me to recharge.

Activities are carefully planned to ‘manage my spoons’.

I try my best to be cheerful so that my colleagues and students do not see the daily battles that I face. Being on a biologic added an interesting twist to the last 18 months. I’m the youngest member of the Maths department yet the first to have both vaccines! My colleagues in the department ensured that I only had to venture out of my classroom when absolutely necessary and undertook the duties of pigeonhole checking and lunch collection.

Since graduating in 2004, I have always been open and honest about my condition – my confidence helped by the Student Support Services at the University of Bath.

I have had very honest conversations about declaring your needs with current students applying to University so that they can access both the funding and practical support that they are entitled to. I have also been open with my employers about adaptations that I need to do my job. These have included basing me in one classroom so that I don’t have to carry books across the school and making sure my condition was declared and covered on the school insurance policy when I accompanied students on a Rugby Tour to South Africa in 2017 (most people would probably agree straightaway to such an invitation but I had to run it past my medical team).

I’m a Brownie Guider, and I enjoy baking, reading, gardening, and various arts and crafts. Trips to see friends (when permitted!) are again carefully planned, and they are very accommodating in my request to stay over to minimise the driving time each day. My Mum and I enjoy trips to the theatre as well as a spot of lunch and shopping.

I hope that by making this donation to you, others will be able to enjoy their passions, whatever they may be.

I know that I’m incredibly lucky to work full time in a job that I love. Thank you for working tirelessly to offer advice, raise awareness and campaign for improvements. My goal is to continue doing a job that I love for as long as possible. There is something about inspiring the next generation that makes me want to keep doing my best!”

If you would like to donate to support our work, please click here. Just £10 can enable our Helpline team to answer one call or email and provide guidance and advice to anyone affected by axial SpA (AS).