Just When I Thought My Hiking Days Were Done..
I was an avid hiker, I have stood atop some of the most breathtaking mountains. I have felt the cold crisp wind steal my breath away. I know the pain of thinking the mountain has kicked your butt, bruised and banged up, yet you don't quit. I have shed blood, sweat and tears along those challenging dirt paths. It was my passion, I lived for the moments that I spent in the woods. Suddenly life changed, and my world was one I didn't know.
I knew in my heart the reason I challenged myself so much was because I needed the strength for a much harder battle. My life has been full of experience, from motherhood, living in an abusive relationship, having a challenging yet rewarding job, and caring for my children's dying father. It was all part of a greater plan, and I know I had to be tested in order to gain the knowledge that I could and would survive.
This Is My Greatest Fight...
Once I received the diagnosis of Ankylosing Spondylitis I thought it meant I'd finally feel better, treatment, medication it was going to give me my life back. It did temporarily. Now, I'm not sure and don't know if I'll ever know if AS, extended time until diagnosis, medication, or something else all together is the cause. I made a choice, it won't change anything knowing. No matter what I'm still going to fight, advocate, raise awareness, and do all I can to make a change for the community.
That is and always will be my fight. It's definitely a big one and requires massive amounts of strength. Over the course of the three years since my diagnosis I have gone from an avid hiker in the physical world to one who climbs those mountains mentally now. I was asked to stop hiking due to symptoms I started having. Until today I had never even related the activity to my life now.
It Is My Blessing And My Curse..
Being sick has given me multiple opportunities to help others in the AS community. For this, I do consider it my blessing. This has also become a passion for me, I love what I'm doing. I love helping people. It's what I have always done. The pleasure I get from helping others also keeps my strength up and my drive to do everything I can moving forward. Because of this I am not just helping others, I'm helping myself too.
I have been steadily getting sicker and sicker though. No diet or exercise seems to help. Medication isn't the answer, but being off medication is even worse. Test after test, appointment after appointment just trying to find the answers. Just four days ago I was told by my pulmonologist that I'm in the beginning stages of lung disease. Of course this means more test, regular monitoring and plenty more appointments. Then I get a phone call, ultrasound revealed that there are signs of liver disease too.
I Am A Warrior...
I get up everyday, I participate in life the best I can. I get to spend my days around my children. Doing things I truly love. I get to soak in the beauty of everyday. I'm not beaten down, nor am I broken. Don't take it wrong, I definitely breakdown too. I have a good cry, and sometimes I get angry or jealous. I don't have the energy to argue, so I don't scream and shout. I also understand the precious things in life. I'm not perfect by any means, but I definitely know how to learn from my mistakes.
My intention is to fight as hard as I always have. Quiting and giving up are not words in my vocabulary. No matter how hard the journey gets, I know I have conquered mountains before. The ultimate prize at the end is always breathtaking beauty. I know that if I fight maybe the beauty is seeing a different future for others with AS. If I fight maybe we find a cure. If I fight maybe I win!
As always, Kick Some AS