How Working On My General Health Helped My Symptoms
There’s a certain hopeless finality in being told you have a disease with no cure.
I didn’t for a moment question the highly trained specialist sitting before me when he said the only things I could do were to keep moving, take the meds and come back when they stopped working.
I like to solve problems though, and this riddle with no answer did not sit well with me, especially one that was significantly interfering with my quality of life.
I just about wore my fingerprints off Googling anything and everything I could about AS; treatments for AS, case studies of people doing well with AS, diets for AS, what caused AS, alternative treatments for AS and so on and so on.
My diagnosis tunnel vision
With the benefit of hindsight I look back and see how limiting those searches actually were. Receiving a diagnosis created a kind of tunnel-vision in me for many years, because the only place I looked for answers and ideas was within the confines of my own specific illness.
I desperately wanted to find that sliver bullet cure that someone somewhere had found but wasn’t telling the world about. And for sure, some of the things I learned about and tried for myself did prove to be helpful, but I didn’t ever find my miracle.
Thinking about my wellbeing overall
What I learned in time, and what I continue to lean into now, is that those things which most impact health and wellbeing overall can be game changers for me in how I experience this condition. And many of the approaches I used to see as too generalized or not relevant for someone with axial spondyloarthritis have proved to be really worth my while addressing.
Basic underlying principles of good health such as nutrition and gut health, movement and stress management had been really missing from my life and, in my opinion, probably left me a sitting duck for a chronic illness. Focussing on making small changes over time in each of these areas has not only lowered my inflammation and disease activity, it’s put me in a much better position with my health over-all.
In looking back at the areas of my health that needed improvement, I’m not judgmental about what I could have done differently. I don’t for a minute think anyone deserves to get AS or believe getting sick was my fault. Now I just value the opportunity to tackle those areas head on, and I take the responsibility of caring for my health much more seriously.
As the saying goes, when you know better you can do better.
Learning to really understand and support my overall health has seen my AS symptoms significantly decline, something I never would have believed possible back when I was first diagnosed. Seeing how much it has already helped encourages me that even without a cure, I can still impact my future health and wellbeing in spite of an axial spondyloarthritis diagnosis.