Ankylose This! Living with Ankylosing Spondylitis

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Michael Slater has bipolar disorder, too

Aussie cricketer Michael Slater (about whom see this previous entry) has announced that he's been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, and believes that there is a connection between it and his ankylosing spondylitis. (The connection between stress and autoimmune disorders, perhaps?) Coverage in the Sydney Morning Herald, the Weekend Australian, and the Melbourne Herald Sun.

Living with the pain, and pain medication

Writing in today's Oregonian, writer and AS sufferer Doug Klinkebiel responds to the plethora of news stories about prescription-drug addiction and the focus on the drugs as harmful agents sui generis rather than the choice to abuse them.

My search to live more comfortably seemed futile. Apart from a spine that would grind against itself with each step, I was in good health. You never get over the embarrassment of asking the doctor for "something stronger," only to get suspecting eyes and some remark like, "Come now, is it really that bad?"

Some years back, as I sat and talked with a compassionate physician who specializes in neurology, something happened. She'd sincerely tried to alleviate my pain with different combinations of anti-inflammatory medications. As we talked, she sensed in my voice that two people were now hurt every time my 3-year old daughter heard the words "not now" when she asked, "Daddy, will you pay wit me?"

After living with too much discomfort for what now had been almost 20 years, the charade of trying to live up to some doctor's quip about it not hurting that bad was finally taking its toll.

I now, fortunately, had a doctor who was keen to the fact that chronic pain was affecting her patient's quality of life.

The vast majority of us on pain medication don't talk about it much. We're aware of the stigma society still attaches to people who need help to perform their daily chores. But when that remedy allows us to chop wood, play with our children, hold jobs and be able to function in society like everyone else, we're thankful.

I do exactly what it says on the bottle -- take one tablet twice daily. I know that's not exactly headline-grabbing news, but for the millions of us who must do it every day, I thought it was time somebody wrote about it.

Oh boy can I relate. You wouldn't believe how many times I've been told to just suck it up. Then again, you just might.

Spring is coming

It's a beautiful, sunny day and it's warmer than it's been for weeks. Spring is on its way, so naturally I'm stiff and sore. My AS has been behaving itself over the winter; with my rheumatologist telling me that it tends to be worse in spring and fall, I'm anticipating higher pain levels. We'll see if today is a sign of things to come.