Spring With Ankylosing Spondylitis

Last updated: April 2022

Do your joints feel better? Mine do, and today it has nothing to do with medication. I feel better because I see the promise of spring everywhere. I observe a very hefty robin out my window. She looks miserable in her advanced condition before she lays her eggs. I hope she has her nest built already, and just as important: I hope it is not near my front door.

Bird swoops

For the 3-5 years, I have fought with a mother robin each time I exit the house. She and her partner seem convinced I am trying to destroy their nest and harm their young. I would never do that, so once the eggs are laid, we go through a progression of me trying to get the mail and my new visitors taking offense. After my friends and their young have left my tree at the end of the season, I dispose of the nest, and I hope they will see the wisdom of not returning.

But, they always return. No matter how many times I have removed the new nest, they or another pair build it back. After they do so, the saga begins again. Year after year, it is one of the little dramas that make life interesting.

The only difference is that the nest gets harder to reach as the tree grows. The more difficult the nest is to reach, the bigger pole I need to bring it down. I know as sure as spring comes; the birds will build back. I also know that the nest will someday (soon) be out of my reach. The birds will be able to create, add on and grow their nest as they wish without interference from me. I imagine one day having a tree full of robin squatters, living rent-free but more aggressively each year.

This year after year saga seems a lot like my relationship with inflammation

I have symptoms, I receive my biologic, the symptoms improve, then slowly, but inevitably they return. It is like a mini-war; the inflammation marching along, abated temporarily but never vanquished. As inevitable as spring, the bird battle in my front yard, and my desire to get my bicycle tuned for the summer season, inflammation marches on.

The evil genie

I put the genie back in the bottle in my battle with inflammation, yet it comes back. It marches through my joints unnoticed and then invariably in an all-out occupation. I sense I have no hope of conquering inflammation. I believe that like the bird nest is always getting higher from the ground and thus more difficult to knock down, inflammation will become more challenging to hold back.

I have been in the business of suppressing inflammation for over 20 years. Sometimes I have been successful. Other times I have not. When I have not, I begin a different biologic, and just like with the birds, I know my new tool will someday fail to do the job. Then what? I do not have a plan B. In the past, medical science has delivered the next innovation to keep me going. I hope medicine will again find the right tool to suppress inflammation.

But for now, spring is here

My joints will relax, the stiffness will subside, my back will feel better, and my bicycle will get tuned up. The bird battle will undoubtedly begin once again, and this year I will be up to the task of getting the mail. I know I will never win the battle with inflammation or with the birds. But I will never stop fighting. So long as inflammation or the robins harass me, I am resolved to keep going. I sense a truce is not forthcoming.

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