I wish I could say I have little symptoms of AS, or rather minor at any time but in my case I have flare ups quite often and quite severely. The hallmark of AS- neck or spinal pain I have the most often and most every time I wake in the morning along with stiffness. It is the most aggravating of everything I go through and the most painful. I have a tendency to want to physically “adjust” my spine and neck which is very hard to do when stiff and quite painful. Sadly, sometimes I even put off using the restroom until my spine loosens up a little and I feel like my eyeballs are floating! Gross? Maybe but you deal with a stiff spine and trying to manage the restroom as a lady. Not an easy task.
Then there are my eyes. I have been dealing for months with my eye issues. I can’t seem to get them under control and have been on constant steroid drop usage. Those of us with AS tend to have a lot of eye flare ups. I am hoping soon enough my eyes will be doing better. The AS affects everything internally. I can feel it everywhere at various times in my body in various locations during flare ups. Sometimes in my heels real bad, my neck consistently, or my lower back will feel bruised and I want to stick my abdomen out when I walk which probably makes me look 30 pounds heavier than I already am!! My toes have become locking, and what they call trigger joints or trigger toes like you would get trigger fingers. Why this happens I don’t know because I have never ever heard of anyone getting that in their toes but my rheumy understood. At least someone gets it….Lately another oddity of AS, arthritis of the left thumb and I have to wear a thumb stabilizer all day. The top joint in my thumb has been in severe pain. So yea, this sounds like I am complaining but I need you to know AS affects everywhere. EVERYWHERE. (my elbows, my jaw…my chest)
AS can even rip you apart on a good day or a good month and I mean when you aren’t flaring. It tears you apart mentally. Depression rips through your brain and tears you to shreds. It plays with you. It taunts you and teases you. Saying you are better only to have a flare up again and then realize you aren’t good enough for anyone. Or it tells you constantly you aren’t a good person and that you aren’t worthy of being alive. It says you don’t contribute to this world. Depression can be more defeating and daunting than being in physical pain because you cannot get away from it like pain can be gotten away from with a pill or pain can distract you from the depression at times because it is severe.
The symptoms of AS can be frightening for the person suffering and even for the family and friends watching. Or maybe even the one reading about them. Those of us who live with them learn to somehow deal with the physical and emotional pain and symptoms somehow. Some of us can weather the storms of the pain and some of us can’t. Sadly some of us have given up at times and the symptoms have almost done me in too, but these days I refuse to let the symptoms of AS do me in. I am a fighter now and I will continue to be.