person doing yoga, notebook with pen, and lots of spoons

The Things I Have Gained From Having AS

I recently wrote about the things I have had to give up since being diagnosed with AS. While we do lose a lot when we learn that we have AS, we also gain quite a few things, too. This is some of what I have gained in the 2 years I’ve had ankylosing spondylitis.

I found my love for yoga

Ever since I discovered aerobics in grade 10, I knew I loved to work out. It was probably the only thing that really, truly, helped with my stress. After high school, I discovered Insanity Max 30. Naturally, I fell in love with it. Something about working out so hard you can’t think is appealing to me.

Now obviously, I have AS, and I can’t work out quite like I used to. While I was in physiotherapy, I would just do the at-home stretches. It just wasn’t quite enough for me. A year after my initial symptoms of AS showed up, I discovered yoga.

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I had done yoga once before in high school, but never really thought about it again. I searched up “Yoga for Beginners” on YouTube and found a video to go along with. Then I fell in love.

Yoga is a workout that can be at anyone’s pace. Having a rough day? Go for an easier video. Feeling like letting all of your stress out? Go for a bit of a harder video. It fills my bar for the kind of workout that can take all of my stress away when I really need it to. I just have to listen to my body’s fatigue levels, too.

I learned that I love to write

Back in November 2018, I decided to start a website to blog about AS. I knew I liked to write, but I didn’t know that I would LOVE writing this much. I never really saw myself as a writer until I got AS.

Writing is my way of connecting and informing loved ones, friends, acquaintances, and even strangers of what ankylosing spondylitis is. It’s a way of spreading awareness, which has been one of my biggest goals since being diagnosed with AS.

I also don’t intend on stopping anytime soon, so hopefully, you actually like reading my articles!

The community of Spoonies

Last and absolutely not least, actually, the most important thing I’ve gained while having AS is the community. I felt completely alone and like no one truly understood me until I found communities on Instagram, Facebook, and Health Union!

I can’t even begin to articulate how much the community of us spoonies means to me. The other day I posted in a Facebook group asking what to expect from my upcoming endoscopy and colonoscopy. The number of responses and people that were genuinely helpful and caring was amazing. Some of them even checked up on me on the day of my procedure! Some of my own friends didn’t even do that.

It feels amazing to feel like there are people that actually understand me. People who know what I go through, know how hard it is, and genuinely care about me. I’ve never felt such a strong sense of community anywhere else.

We lose some, we gain some

While we do lose a lot by having a chronic illness, we gain things in other places. In some ways, I feel like I’m another human now that I have AS, but I feel more like myself now. I feel like I’ve finally got a strong sense of self, and I don’t know if I would actually want to give up what I’ve gained.

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