The bad news is that around 2005 I was diagnosed with ankylosing spondylitis, which is an (supposedly) incurable auto-immune genetic disorder. As my doctor told me at that time, “It’s something you’ll die with, but not from.” If that’s not a turd wrapped in a ribbon I’m not sure what is.
The good news is that I’ve cured myself. I’m symptom-free 100% of the time, cured. Right, I know exactly what you’re thinking, “Here’s where this schister tries to sell me something…”. Wrongo. I’m not selling anything. I am here to tell you that if you have ankylosing spondylitis (or a host of other related auto-immune and inflammatory diseases) then you MAY be able to cure yourself with diet alone. (If you’re in the middle of a flare right now and just want to get started right away without any more build up or personal accounts, then go directly to the Get Started Right Now section of this blog above)
For those of you who already have ankylosing spondylitis (AS from now on as I hate typing out that ridiculous name) you know how awful this disease can be. I’ve been there. Like most of you, I suffered undiagnosed for about 12 years. Chronic, massive, debilitating pain from out of nowhere would strike, seemingly at random, for years. My pain would normally last for several weeks to a couple of months and then it would go away juuuust long enough for me to forget how terrible it was…and then, just when I’d slipped back into my normal life, it’d strike again.
My “flares” (as these bouts of intense pain are called in The AS Community) defined my life. I was literally living from flare to flare. More like I was living between flares and just hanging on during them.
During a typical flare I could look forward to the following:
- Intense mid-back, hip, and rib pain.
- “Rolling” out of bed. Some of us folks w/AS literally have to work our way out of bed in the morning. It would sometimes take me 10 minutes just to slowly work my way onto my side, get my arms underneath me, slowly push first one leg and then the other off of the bed, then use my arms to push myself into a sitting position- or, if the flare was especially bad I would literally flop onto the floor and use the bed to stand up.
- No sneezing. No kidding. I could go months without sneezing. Every time I would start to sneeze my body would cut it off mid-sneeze due to the intense pain in my ribs caused by the sudden chest expansion during that quick, pre-sneeze deep in-breath. I’ve likely got a few fusions of my ribs and it literally felt like my ribs were breaking when I’d sneeze. I once broke my collar bone and several ribs after a car accident so I know exactly what broken ribs feel like, and sneezing gave me the same feeling. I recall “waking up” on the floor a couple of times after blacking out for 2 or 3 seconds during a sneeze. Doesn’t that sound fun;-) ?
- Getting stuck while dressing. That sounds weird, right? But I would constantly get stuck as I was putting on my pants. I’d have to bend down while holding on to a dresser or the bed and try to lasso my foot into my pants like a crippled cowboy. At some point during this process my hips would occasionally say “enough!” and they’d just lock up. It would almost feel like one of my hips was popping out of the socket (during my undiagnosed years I went to doctor after doctor explaining how I must have dislocated a hip while trail running years ago and that it would occasionally pop out again causing severe pain. Of course they all thought I was crazy and that the pain was just in my head. Nothing worse than being in pain and being told it’s all in your head, huh?) and I’d just hang there half-pants-less, and wait for the pain to pass.
- Getting in a car didn’t work. Try getting in your car while keeping your spine perfectly straight. Hard, right?
- Sleep was elusive. I didn’t realize how much I got up during the night until I got married and my wife pointed out that I got up a good dozen times every night. I’d just gotten used to not really sleeping and having to get up every few minutes or hours due to the bedsore-like pain in my back caused by laying down. Pretty lame when sleeping hurts!
So you get the idea. I’ve gone from being in pain most of the time to being 100% pain-free without drugs or painkillers (“natural” or otherwise) and am completely convinced that my diet is the key.
I started experimenting with diet almost immediately after getting my diagnosis. Drugs and I don’t get along too well, and so the powerful NSAIDS I was taking were impacting both my mental and physical state. They were helping with the pain, but at what price?
I found KickAs.org within a few weeks of getting my AS diagnosis and it was a life saver. KickAs is the greatest online community of AS suffers in the world. There are many, many folks who are smarter than me and know immeasurably more about AS than I do, so please visit the site asap. I immediately started experimenting with The London Low Starch Diet (LSD). The LSD didn’t do much for me (That’s a funny statement in a different context, isn’t it?) and so I had to move on to the NSD, or no-starch diet. It took me several years of experimenting before I got things really dialed in, but I’m finally familiar enough with this way of life that I’m completely off my meds and pain free. I’m hoping that by sharing my experiences with this diet that I can save you some of the pain and confusion I went through along the way. Because the truth is that this “cure” is quit simple. You just need to try it yourself.
As of March, 2017 I still do not have any AS symptoms.