Ken, an ankylosing spondylitis patient
On one Christmas morning, Ken Calder, then 19, awoke to such debilitating pain that he couldn’t get out of bed. He had to call his parents to come help and take him to the emergency room. That’s when he knew that a nagging lower back pain, which he thought was from a game of basketball earlier in the year, was something more serious.
For seven years following that basketball game, Calder’s life consisted of countless trips back and forth to new doctors in search of a diagnosis, all while living with pain, stiffness and limited mobility, until finally receiving a diagnosis of ankylosing spondylitis (AS). This inflammatory disease primarily affects the spine and causes pain and stiffness in the back and neck. In more severe cases, AS can cause bones in the spine to fuse together, which can impact the posture to such a degree that some patients become hunched forward and cannot lift their head high enough to see ahead of them.
Spending years building good relationships with his doctors and working together to find the best treatment plan has positively impacted his quality of life, that at one point he didn't think was possible. Now he is sharing his experiences to help others get on a faster track toward answers.
“I’ve learned that shared decision-making about your treatment goals is key to good care, and that comes from open and honest conversations with your doctor about how to best reduce pain and inflammation and improve your quality of life,” Calder said. “But it’s also important to be inspired, so finding a community where you can share and listen and realize you’re not alone has had such a positive influence on my life.”