#IAmThankful: Perspective on Ankylosing Spondylitis

I am thankful that I have been able to embrace the fight I have against the crippling disease of ankylosing spondylitis (AS) and I am thankful that in the process, I have been able to help inspire others to fight it too!

I never would have thought the words, “I feel blessed to have AS”, would roll off my tongue so frequently, but they honestly do. AS came along and joined me in life 16 years ago, and in that time, AS and I have gotten quite cozy together.

I will be honest, at first I wasn’t sure I wanted to come out publicly as a spokesman associated with a disease that can cause such pain, and also has the most awkward and hard to pronounce name. The first year following my diagnosis I wasn’t even sure how to pronounce “ankylosing spondylitis”, and that is because no one around me knew how to say it either, nor had anyone that I knew ever heard of it.

I think it’s pretty common to want to keep the news a secret; that a dreadful, painful, crippling disease has shown up in your body, like an uninvited party guest, crashing down on your big dreams and tearing up the plans you had laid out for the rest of your life! And I think we can also struggle with the idea of acceptance versus submission. I have fully accepted my new reality that I have a disease in my body called ankylosing spondylitis, but that doesn’t mean that I have given up and succumbed to it.

Just because I now live my life with this new reality and awareness does not mean I let the disease win.

In fact I think it’s quite the opposite. This disease has empowered me to research everything I can about it and in turn, discover a natural treatment plan based on a diet that was developed to fight AS by a professor of rheumatology. The Low Starch Diet for AS, developed by Dr. Alan Ebringer, is the most effective treatment I have tried over the years, and the foods I now eat are empowering me to live my life to the fullest each day.

Since self publishing my cookbook, “Pure and Simple Paleo: a Low Starch Cookbook” I have received the most heartfelt “thank yous” and testimonials. These thank you notes continue to reaffirm my decision to share my struggles and fight with AS publicly, so that I can help inspire others to fight it with all they’ve got too.

In the past week, I received the two thank you notes below. Reading these notes gave me both good feeling goosebumps and tears of joy. And it’s experiences like these that make me feel so blessed to have AS.

“Hi Andrea, I have been meaning to write to you forever! I am turning 40 today, and thanks in large part to your selfless giving of advice and sharing of your talents and skills in the kitchen, I feel better now than I have in my entire adult life. I just wanted to express my gratitude to you for giving your time (your most valuable possession) to share with the AS community and to offer an example of how positivity, dedication, and creativity can turn a negative situation or health problem into an immensely powerful lifestyle shift. I am so thankful to have discovered you and your recipes! I just had your flaxjacks with maple syrup and blueberries as my birthday breakfast! Have a great day!” – Bronwyn, fellow AS Warrior

“Dear Andrea, First off let me thank YOU!! Tonight I had my family over, two grown daughters, their husbands, grand-daughters, in-laws… Every dish was from your cook book!! The food was so good and everyone loved it. Since it was a birthday celebration for a few of them, I made the hummingbird cake and no one could believe the cake was so healthful and yet so scrumptious. AND, for the FIRST time in my entire life (including childhood) I came away from a family event NOT bloated, no headache, no fatigue!! Thank you for providing the impetus to tackle something so big as diet overhaul.. I thought I was eating correctly, but now realized I had so much further to go. Now, I’m on my way!! Please know that I have already shared your book name with dozen patients and will continue to do so.” – Andrea, fellow AS Warrior, who also shares the same name!

#IAmThankful. I am especially thankful for my husband for supporting me both emotionally, spiritually, and financially when I took the past year off to work full time developing and self publishing my low starch paleo cookbook. I am so thankful that this amazing man is my best friend and husband. I am thankful that this diet approach has empowered me to overcome the widespread inflammation that used to plague my spine, gut, and overall well-being. I am thankful for the friends and fellow AS Warriors I have met along the way. And I am thankful for the beautiful foods I eat each day that make me feel so alive and at peace with my body.

andrea wyckoff (3)Check back for more articles by Patient Worthy Contributor Andrea. In the meantime, share her #IamThankful post and let us know what you are thankful for on Twitter and Facebook with this hashtag!

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