How can AS affect your life?

Ankylosing spondylitis (AS) can have a major impact on your everyday activities. We interviewed David Atkins to learn how AS has affected his life. For people without AS, David's story provides a window onto life with AS. For those with AS, it may provide support and reassurance to know that you're not alone.

David Atkins is a 38-year-old teacher, actor, and father of three. His first sign of AS, swollen knees, began when he was just 16 years old. By the time he reached university, he was also having back and hip pain and stiffness to the point where his roommate needed to help him get out of bed. After going from doctor to doctor, he was finally diagnosed with AS at the age of 24.

For David, his 20s were difficult years. His condition got steadily worse. After he was diagnosed, he started on nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications. But the long-acting pills he was using were discontinued, so he needed to take short-acting medications every 3-4 hours. This led to a "roller coaster ride" of pain that would occur when the anti-inflammatory medications wore off. As a result, he had to carry "a pocket full of drugs" and keep medication everywhere, from his golf bag to his wife's purse, in case he needed it.

Even though the pain and stiffness were bad, David kept up his usual activities. But this took a toll. He came home from work exhausted, and felt bad about not being able to keep up with his share of the household tasks. He also found that the frequent medication doses and the need to always carry medication gave him daily reminders of his condition. And he lived with the frustration of knowing that AS is a chronic condition, so the symptoms he was experiencing would continue over the long term.

But things changed for David in his early 30s, when he found a treatment that really worked for him. And living with AS for so many years has helped him develop many useful coping strategies. To learn more about finding a treatment that works for you and David's advice on coping with AS, read "Finding a treatment for AS that works for you."

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