Ankylose This! Living with Ankylosing Spondylitis

Saturday, November 20, 2004

An appointment with my new rheumatologist

Last week I had a long-scheduled appointment with a new rheumatologist -- the first I'd seen in some time, barring the fact that my previous general practicioner was also one and was able to do a bit on my behalf. Certainly the first I'd seen since moving out to Shawville a year and a bit ago. My doctor in Shawville, not a rheumatologist herself, wanted me to see him; she was worried about the long-term effects of all that naproxen.

Surprisingly, the fact that he was an hour and a half late to see me was considered a good thing: he's very thorough, takes his time with his patients. As a result, he falls further and further behind during the day. I had a good hour with him, which I think is excellent.

His verdict, after the usual barrage of flexion tests, is that my flexibility is absolutely normal for a sedentary person who's a bit overweight. Which is to say that being sedentary and overweight is a problem, but that, after more than seven years of ankylosing spondylitis, I'm as flexible as a non-spondylitic someone of similar lifestyle and physique.

Now clearly I've got to do something about that. But, as I told him, I'm surely not the only one of his patients who doesn't do his exercises. That I've got to work on. The sedentary lifestyle's going to be a challenge: I'm trained for intellectual (read: desk) work, but my body wants me to be a forest ranger. (I'm also gaining an appreciation of the challenge of getting out and about in a small town of 1,500 people: there isn't much cause to go for a walk around here.)

Still, it's encouraging news, despite the fact that pain levels have been above-average for the last month or so. About which he also had to say that AS patients seem to suffer most in spring and fall. People always asked me whether the weather had an impact. Apparently it does -- or at least the seasons do.

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