Lisa is a high school special education teacher living and working in Holmen, WI. While a job in education can be challenging in it’s own right, Lisa also lives with a painful and debilitating autoimmune condition called ankylosing spondylitis (that’s pronounced ank-kih-low-sing spon-dill-eye-tiss).

Ankylosing spondylitis, or AS, primarily affects the spine and in severe cases it can lead to sections of the spine fusing in a fixed position. While it was once thought to be more prevalent in men, this may actually be due to under-diagnosis of AS in women. This is why it’s crucial for women like Lisa share their stories.

Lisa was kind enough to respond to one of our story requests. She says she wants to inspire others living with AS, “Do not let this disease get in the way of a meaningful life.”

Well said, Lisa!


Lisa Lives with Ankylosing SpondylititsWhat led you to seek medical help?

“I went from being able to run half marathons to not being able to walk around the block.

I knew it was not normal to have constant pain, exhaustion, and stiff muscles throughout my body that limited my ability to do every-day tasks.”

What advice can you share with someone newly diagnosed?

“The advice I would give to someone recently diagnosed with Ankylosing Spondylitis is to not give up and find a medication that works for you. It has taken me years of experimenting with different biologics and pills before finding what provides the best relief for me.”

What has been your greatest support?

“My greatest support has been my family. They have adapted to my inability to walk through the grocery store or the mall. They are also understanding when I need to go to bed every night at 7:30pm because my body just physically cannot stay awake any longer.

They are supportive when there are days that I just break down and cry because my disease has just become too much for me to handle on my own.”

It can be difficult to put yourself in the spotlight, but sharing stories is the antidote to stigma, confusion, feelings of helplessness and under-diagnosis! Please leave a comment thanking Lisa for her story. 

Also, sign up for Health Stories Project to learn more about sharing YOUR story.