Brian – Age 16

My name is Brian, and I live in Southern California in a city called Mission Viejo. I am 16 years old, and I live with my older brother and sister, and my parents. I was diagnosed with Ankylosing Spondylitis a year and a half ago.

Before I was diagnosed, I was complaining of horrible leg pain. So we went on our first of many ER trips for which they didn’t know what was wrong with me. The Doctors first blamed it on Lactic Acid and gave me Advil. They even said go see an Orthopedic Doctor who ran a blood test. This blood test popped up HLA-B27. Not knowing exactly what this meant, we made an arthritis doctor appointment because my sister has psoriatic arthritis. Sure enough within five minutes of going, I was diagnosed with Ankylosing Spondylitis.

My story is probably like everyone else who has arthritis – painful and life changing. I swim for a club called The Mission Viejo Nadadores and for the high school team at Mission Viejo High. I am a competitive swimmer, and I have a dream to get an Olympic trial cut in swimming, go into the Navy and becoming a doctor. I know I have Ankylosing Spondylitis, but I won’t let it stop me from perusing my lifetime goals. I refuse to let this disease get in my way and stop me from doing what I love to do.

March 2008 Update: Brian

Since I started IV therapy (TNF-a inhibitor/biologic medication) I’ve noticed a huge change in how I am. I still have some pain sometimes, but overall I feel great.

I had to make a big decision at the beginning of last summer. I decided to end swimming competitively at my Club as the strain it put on my body was taking a big toll on the rest of my life. Now I still compete at my high school, and after graduation I plan on swimming recreationally. Since I have made the change I have noticed a HUGE difference. I know that swimming is the best activity for arthritis, but I was overdoing it, and my body could not handle it.

At the moment I am a senior at Mission Viejo High School; I will be attending Irvine Valley College in the fall and getting my general education credits. I work for a competitive swimming supply company. I enjoy it because I’m working surrounded by what I love and the work environment is just amazing. My future plans include attending IVC and figuring out what I would like to do in college.