Living With AxSpa Has Helped Me Build Resilience Facing Illness

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?

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