Road to Ankylosing Spondylitis Remission | This AS Life

Remission is a difficult concept to balance with my experience of ankylosing spondylitis. MY condition is so pervasive that ‘true’ remission – achieving enough relief to forget that I’m a ‘sick person’ – just doesn’t seem realistic. Even when I’ve been at my best I’ve been aware that my symptoms could reappear any time, so it’s easy to feel that this kind of remission may simply not be possible for me.

Despite this, I am still hopeful about achieving my own version of remission – largely thanks to my physicians. They’ve always pushed me to picture what remission could look like for me and to make it the aim of every treatment and appointment when I see any of my health practitioners.

This is all possible because of the very honest relationship we have. Some topics  - sex, alcohol and mental health – can still be awkward to discuss but I know I can be totally open with them about changes in my AS. If I experience any new symptoms, I know I can ask why. If I have any improvements or regressions, I know I can mention those and ask what I can do next to improve further.

The biggest problem I’ve experienced is fitting everything I want to talk about into my appointment slot. Here are my rules for making the most of my time with my physician:

  • Be as honest as you can from the first appointment.


  • Prepare a list of topics you want to discuss to help guide the conversation.


  • Don’t underplay your symptoms or gloss over any details of your medical history – even the smallest clue could help you along your road to remission.


  • Above all, go in with a clear idea of your personal remission goal – mine is to be able to lift my son and play with him without worrying about my back pain. Share your’s with your doctor because it’s only when they know where you want to get to that they can help you find a way.


This article was written by Bjillian Mackinnon, with help from the resident experts at A social site helping the whole AS community to: Learn. Share. Inspire. Discuss.


For more guidance on speaking honestly about your AS, see our plain-talk guide to AS, or for more on preparing for your appointment, see our in-depth guide from rheumatologist Ronan Kavanagh.


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Diagnosed with AS just four months after giving birth to her son in 2013, Bjillian MacKinnon had to adapt quickly to both being a mother and an AS patient. She approached the challenge with the positive attitude developed during her career as an educator for children with behavioral issues and her time as a marathon and triathlon athlete.


Bjillian now works as an Education and Development Specialist at The Arthritis Society and sits on several arthritis-related boards and committees across Canada. A strong believer in fitness as a tool, she recently trained 16 people with arthritis to complete their first sprint-triathlon in 2015 and has become an enthusiastic AS ambassador.


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