I was diagnosed in my early 20s after my twin brother was diagnosed months earlier. It was the little noticeable things that prompted me to get myself checked out. Being unable to move my neck from left to right and lack of flexibility in my back were the two main problems.
Once diagnosed, I turned a blind eye to it all to be honest. I was thinking that these things don’t happen to a young man in his 20s. If anyone would ask me about my neck or back stiffness I would palm it off as a football injury, or the classic phrase “I must’ve slept on it funny”.
Gradually the symptoms have worsened over time. They have become more noticeable to the point where only recently I have started telling people about the disease. I can still do the vast majority of the regular things I enjoy like 5 a side football and running. However, when inflammation and fatigue occurs it becomes difficult to do even basic things.
Almost everyone responds with “Ankylosing Spondylitis?, what’s that?” And I don’t blame them! I’d never heard of it either before my diagnosis, but my aim now is to manage the symptoms while raising awareness about this disease.
I used to find it difficult to tell people, because on the outside the symptoms weren’t always visible and I was hardly in pain, if at all!
I feel lucky in the fact that there is medication and excersises I can do to help. Some days are better than others of course but joining NASS makes me realise that there’s help out there when I need it.
I’m running a half marathon in September of this year to raise money for NASS and the great work they do for AS awareness!
Visit Jake's JustGiving page to donate to NASS. Every donation helps us to reach even more of the estimated 200,000 people living with AS in the UK.