Ankylosing spondylitis

The Boy….


The boy who is going to make a great man must not make up his mind merely to overcome a thousand obstacles, but to win in spite of a thousand repulses and defeats.  Theodore Roosevelt

In 2001 I got married, lost my house, moved to a rental and had my son tested for AS. Yes, my son began having problems with his back as well and the only thing I could think of was he had AS. I actually had both my kids tested but only my son got the diagnosis. I bought him a water-bed and like me was able to sleep fine, without pain. But I noticed the changes he was going through as far as his back was concerned. Just like me, he would walk very erect. What I mean by this is both of us keep our shoulders back as far as possible with our spine straight as a board. Everyone says “Wow, you both have such great posture.” I now know that we walked like this because it hurt to slouch and to this day slouching bothers both of us. We never told any of the football coaches or trainers that my son had AS, because we heard they would not let him play. He played football from 5th grade through five years of college all the while damaging a lot of muscles in his neck, knees and ankles, but he never gave up or let the pain get to him until the doctors finally told him his junior year of college, after two knee arthroscopic surgeries, he wouldn’t be able to play pro football.

My son doesn’t say much about this time but I know it broke his heart. As a football player he had a lot of weight on him and the doctors told him his knees couldn’t take it much longer. They never said anything about his AS because he never told them, and they never picked up on it from the blood tests or imagining studies.

Right before my son graduated from college, he enlisted in the Army. How he managed to get them to accept him with bum knees is beyond me. But after two physicals and doctors’ notes and releases he became a member of our armed services. He wouldn’t go in as an officer but instead chose infantry, meaning carrying around 70-80 lb. packs if he got deployed and during maneuvers. Again he did not tell anyone about his AS diagnosis and they never even questioned such a thing.

My son has now been in the Army for two tours to Afghanistan and has reenlisted once. He knows the trauma to his body occurs daily and the military now knows he has AS. Their solution.. Send him to a chiropractor, put him on methotrexate and pain killers. He is scheduled to have both ankles fixed in the next year or two. He continues to work out daily keeping his body in tip-top shape, but is going to be looking for a new job while he is in the military, because the infantry is “bad” for his body.

Next week… Life IS Good!

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