Ankylose This! Living with Ankylosing Spondylitis

Saturday, November 20, 2004

Playing in pain

The Goldsboro News-Argus (covering Wayne County, North Carolina) has the story of a high school student who, despite her ankylosing spondylitis, pushes herself to play softball.

Meredith Wilkerson plays softball with all the passion she can muster. Whether playing for Charles B. Aycock High School's successful program in the spring or for a traveling team in the off-season, Wilkerson loves the game and plays it with ease.

She also plays in pain -- all the time.

Wilkerson, entering her senior year at Charles B. Aycock, looks and acts like any other teenager. But she has a disease that most people associate with the elderly -- ankylosing spondylitis, a rare form of arthritis that has been attacking her for the last three years. It is especially rare in girls -- which makes Meredith's situation even more unusual and remarkable.

I have to confess that I'm a little bit ambivalent about stories like this. I've sometimes felt that the disabled and the chronically ill are only allowed to have a positive attitude, so that others can be inspired by us; while I'm amazed by stories like Meredith's (and that of her sister, Tabitha, who incredibly also has AS), it's an awfully intimidating standard to match, especially when in you're in flare and in too much pain to do much of anything. Nevertheless, I'm still awfully impressed. I wish I had their tenacity.

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