I am not sure what has me compelled to write this letter but here goes nothing. My name is Kayla Slack, I am 28 years old and live in York, PA. I am a Dental Assistant and I live with my boyfriend and our dog and cat. I was first diagnosed with ankylosing spondylitis when I was 12 years old. I remember being outside at recess with terrible back pain that would have me almost in tears. I knew there was something wrong and I was right. Growing up, I always knew my dad could not bend over or turn his neck but I never really knew why. Come to find out I would be diagnosed with the same disease he had, ankylosing spondylitis. Unfortunately, for my father his disease was diagnosed too late and the fusing process had already started. My battle with AS has been nothing short of difficult. I really do not know what it feels like to not be in pain. I am not writing this letter to complain or show pity for myself but for someone to listen to my story. Maybe my story can help another person out there with AS or arthritis to know that they are not alone.
Having AS can sometimes feel as if no one understands and I have had more days of that feeling as I get older. I have had to battle many complications with AS and have been in and out of the hospital many times. As I get older, my disease has worsened, which is a struggle for me because I like to stay active and work hard. I try to stay as positive as I can and not complain about my disease because I know it could be much worse. I often like to go on SAA’s site to read other people’s stories and that helps me in a way. These days it has gotten harder to maintain a positive attitude because every day is a very painful struggle. Currently I cannot afford treatments even though I have insurance. I am still paying previous medical bills and do not have the money to pay a deductible. That is the sad reality of health insurance and healthcare in general. When you are sick and in need it is extremely expensive to get the help you need.
Currently, I am trying to go back to school for a new career in Nuclear Medicine. Unfortunately sitting chairside as a dental assistant and not moving for periods of time is not the best for a person with AS. I have so many goals and aspirations and I try not to let my disease get in the way but it definitely is an obstacle. I appreciate all that the Spondylitis Association of America has done to bring awareness and resources to the public. I can only hope that someday a cure is found for this debilitating disease. I appreciate the person who took the time out of their day to read this letter. Like I said, just knowing that someone out there understands AS is helpful and in some way it helps me feel not so alone in this battle.
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