Living With AxSpa Has Helped Me Build Resilience Facing Illness
Last updated: February 2023
I have lived with AxSpa for many years; along the way I got diagnosed with fibromyalgia as well. I came to a realization last year that living with chronic conditions has helped me to deal with other illnesses in a better way. I would not have guessed that, as the process to get my diagnosis of AxSpa and find the right medication was a traumatic experience for me. Yet, it seems after years of learning, taking an effective treatment, developing self-management techniques including a flare tool kit, and discovering a good self-care routine for me, I find myself more resilient, calmer, and equipped if I fall ill.
Catching Covid and taking biologics
I am going to use the example of Covid here, since this is the last time I was ill. I was of course worried, and apprehensive to catch the virus, thinking that with AxSpa I was more vulnerable to that infection because I take biologics which tone down the immune response. I was not at ease when things started to reopen, and people were traveling everywhere beginning of last year. I felt that way until I caught Covid in March 2022. I had received four jabs at the time, and I was booked in for my fifth in April, following the vaccine schedule in Scotland for those clinically vulnerable!
I caught Covid mid-March last year, most likely at work after being back working in person at the GP surgery where I go every Friday. I had all the typical symptoms, moderately, probably thanks to the vaccines. I went through it ok, and I was able to work from home. Of course, I was tired, I had a cold and flu-like symptoms, but it was manageable and within ten days I felt back to normal.
Sharing my experience
I am not saying that to diminish the impact that the virus can have on some people, neither to prove there's nothing to worry about. First, I want to share my experience of having Covid, in case it can be useful to others. And I wish to reflect on it, as it seems I managed it fine physically but also mentally and emotionally. I did not get scared, overwhelmed, or distressed by catching this virus.
And that surprised me, so I thought that I must have built some resilience, strengths, and skills to face illness over the years managing AxSpa and fibromyalgia. I think the fact that symptoms were recognizable to me really helped as well. I felt I had similar symptoms of fibromyalgia such as fatigue, brain fog. I remained calm facing the infection and looked after myself physically, mentally, and emotionally. I felt equipped, and protected with the vaccines. Today, I am without the long Covid symptoms, and for that I feel grateful.
I have to say that this experience changed my perspective of Covid and since then I am more prone to go out and join the party. Because I had Covid on my birthday, I could not meet anyone in person...for the third year in a row I could not celebrate my birthday :( Never mind, I had a belated celebration in April: I went to a Ceilidh with friends! What a joy to finally be able to do that!!
Feeling strong and healthy
Since that episode, I have been fine, and despite being in contact with people with Covid and the flu over Christmas, I did not catch any viruses and started 2023 strong and healthy. I am grateful for being able to get vaccines for both these diseases.
I must admit that I am keen on keeping some protection learnt from the pandemic. For example, the other day I had a meeting with my manager, and she had a bad cold. Without hesitation I put my mask on while she was doing a Covid test, which was negative. I did keep my mask on for the whole meeting as I did not want to catch her cold. I think I will carry on doing those things which are easy to do and prevent me getting ill.
Now we are on the other side of the two-year pandemic, what are your reflections about Covid or other illnesses that might be around? How do you feel about keeping some protection on for your own health?
Has changing your diet helped manage your pain and flares?