Ankylose This! Living with Ankylosing Spondylitis

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Playing in pain, part 5

Another in an occasional series on young athletes with ankylosing spondylitis who continue to compete despite the pain and debilitation (see previous entries: 1, 2, 3, 4). This time, the Barrington Courier-Review takes a look at 14-year-old baseball player Max Younger, who was diagnosed with AS two years ago. Younger was practically ordered back onto the ballfield by his doctors, who wanted to make sure he remained active -- always critical with our disease. As is typical in such stories, the article puts Younger into the role of the example: not feeling sorry for himself, perservering despite the pain and so forth. I'm glad it's baseball: it's a good deal less high-impact than some of the other choices.

Comments on this post

  • Hi - I just wanted to remind you that these are teenagers. When I was in highschool, I was a women's doubles badminton champion. I've had AS since I was 11 and it was quite painful - my lower back was constantly inflammed and I had back spasms reminiscent of sciatica. However in my case, I didn't have a definitive diagnosis till I was 22, and so I just kept playing badminton. Yes, it hurt like hell, but when I was in the moment, there's nothing like that adrenaline rush of competition. After the matches of course, I could barely move, and so I used ice packs and would lie down in between my matches (at tourneys). Anyway, that was then. Our disease usually takes time to start damaging our joints to such a degree that in the severe cases (like you, like me), we honestly cannot participate in sports the way these kids are. And it sounds to me like most of them, once they hit their late 20's/30's, they will not be able to continue with their activites. I don't play badminton anymore, not even casually, because its too tempting to really go for it, and make incredible leaps and lunges, with the result being crippling pain for the following days and being bed-ridden.

    Anyway, don't let stories about kids get you down. Once they hit the bad times and damage of their futures, it will be devestating for them to remember how athletic they were able to be in their youth.

    Posted by Anonymous Anonymous (4/28/2006 1:58 PM)  

  • The teenagers aren't getting me down; it's how they're being portrayed. I'm uncomfortable with the disabled being used as fodder for inspirational stories. To a person, none of these kids ever seem to complain about their situation. The ones who aren't so stoic, who aren't capable of pushing through the pain -- those are the ones I'm worried about. More power to them that can achieve things despite it all, but I worry that the rest of us are being held up to their standards.

    Also, I got AS when I was 25, so I have no idea what it's like to be diagnosed with AS in your teens.

    Posted by Blogger mcwetboy (4/28/2006 2:22 PM)  

  • Oh okay, I understand. I only very recently met other people with AS (I went to the AS meeting in Ottawa...)...and I thought I had it bad...and I do in terms of disease, pain and prognosis...but I'm fortunate to have a lot of support from family and friends...even though I live without them in support gives me the strength to fight through the pain...and I have a feeling the kids in the articles have that kind of family support...where if you feel crappy, then its okay, take time out...but if you can do it, push through the pain and live your life while you still have time...but now I've met others...who have almost no support...and negative understanding from their I'd say that's the distinguishing feature of the teens in the who will encourage and push you to try, and hold your hand when you can't walk...just a theory...But I agree...for disabled people who are already suffering from depression and are having trouble coping...articles like this will just make them more unhappy and depressed...its sad.

    Posted by Anonymous Anonymous (5/01/2006 12:22 PM)  

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