For David Atkins, a 38-year-old teacher, actor, and father of three, finding the right treatment for ankylosing spondylitis (AS) has made all the difference. David has shared his treatment experiences in the hope that his story will help others who are suffering from AS.
After being diagnosed with AS at the age of 24, David tried a number of different medications. First, he used nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications. When the long-acting pills that he was using were discontinued, he had to switch to short-acting pills. He needed to take them every 3-4 hours, and he still suffered from pain when the medications wore off. He also tried methotrexate and sulfasalazine, which did not work well for him. Throughout his 20s, David's AS continued to get worse, and he struggled with pain, stiffness, and frustration.
But things changed for the better when David started a new medication called infliximab (Remicade®) in his early 30s.* For the first time, David found a treatment that really worked for him. However, infliximab, like any other drug has its share of side effects. But, knowing these side effects, David has nonetheless chosen to continue using the medication. Infliximab controlled his symptoms better than any other medication he had tried. His quality of life improved, and he was able to start enjoying his regular activities again. According to David, "Remicade has given me my life back." In fact, David's AS has improved so much since starting infliximab that he and his wife decided to have their third child a year later. David was also able to get more involved in his acting career.
Infliximab has also helped David learn to "forget that he has AS." He no longer needs to take frequent medication doses or carry a pocket full of medications everywhere he goes. Instead, he receives his treatment once every 7 weeks at a special infusion centre near his home, where the medication is given as an infusion into a vein in his arm. The entire visit takes a few hours. David prefers the infusions to injecting the drug himself because with an infusion, he can receive his treatment in a comfortable setting where a qualified nurse supervises his infusion, which makes him feel safe. Plus, since he only needs treatment every 7 weeks, infusions don't provide an unwelcome daily reminder of his condition.
David has helped many other AS sufferers cope with their condition, and he shares the following advice to help people live well with AS:
So if you have AS, or think you might, talk to your doctor about diagnosis and treatment. Your doctor can help you find a treatment option that works for you.
* Please note that this health feature describes one person's experience with AS and drug treatment. It is not intended to be representative of all people with AS or to provide any endorsements or recommendations regarding AS therapy.
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