Acceptance and moving forward with Ankylosing Spondylitis
It has been a few months since I was diagnosed with this disease. I haven’t broken down or felt sorry for myself. I have pressed on with my life, no changes… just plodding on as best as I possibly can.
The ‘flares’ come and go and the medication I am on currently takes the ‘edge off’, however, after another visit to my Rheumatologist, I have learnt that with the “full house” of symptoms, this disease will progress and the ‘erosions’ will get worse if I don’t try other medication on offer.
My lifestyle is great, the food I eat is balanced and healthy (with the occasional sweet treat!) but when the flares hit me, they knock me sideways, so I know that I need to accept the help on offer, not just for myself but for my family too. I can’t parent when I am dead on my feet from fatigue. I can’t be the best wife, mother, sister, daughter or friend if every time I see them I am barely able to concentrate from the pain. As my Rheumatologist herself said, I have this at a “good time”, 10 years ago there was very little on offer, now I can feel better by just accepting help.
SO, with my husband’s support, I am starting Methotrexate next week. I am feeling very apprehensive about the whole thing. I visited my GP yesterday to talk things through with her and tentatively asked if it really IS Ankylosing Spondylitis. Whilst I know it is, I just keep trying to convince myself that the diagnosis is wrong! Silly I know, but it is still early days, so I really think this is part of the process of it all sinking in and acceptance that this is something that will be with me for the rest of my life.
This is the start of “getting better”; it means holding off on a few things we had hoped for in the upcoming months, it means I will have weekends feeling pretty nauseous as a result of the dose… but the pros far outweigh the cons. Anyone who knows me, knows that I am not good at accepting help; I am someone who just pushes on and will do anything I can myself to work things out. However, now, really is the time I need to listen to advice and accept the help… the very help I have fought for for years and years and years.
Treating Ankylosing Spondylitis
As mentioned in my previous post My journey to diagnosis – Ankylosing Spondylitis, there is no specific treatment plan for Ankylosing Spondylitis. The aim of any treatment is to reduce pain and stiffness, to prevent deformity or erosions, and to maintain function.
- Maintaining a healthy body weight, eating a balanced diet, and avoiding smoking are all key in managing symptoms.
- Regular exercise, such as swimming, pilates are all great for AS because they don’t increase joint pain.
Treating Ankylosing Spondylitis with Methotrexate
Methotrexate is a chemotherapy drug that can be used in small doses to treat AS.
- Patients who take Methotrexate must also take Folic Acid to reduce the risk for side effects, such as nausea.
- Patients who are taking Methotrexate require regular blood tests and liver function tests to detect bone marrow suppression and liver problems.