The Most Important Member of your Healthcare Team

Managing Ankylosing Spondylitis (or Axial Spondyloarthritis) is never straightforward.

Notoriously difficult to diagnose and treat, it manifests in different ways for different people.

Symptoms of AS come and go, change over time and can impact many different systems of the body.

Individual experiences of treatment are just as variable, and there are no absolutes as to what will help reduce symptoms or limit progression.

Rheumatologists study for many years but still don’t hold all the answers.

Just scroll through any online AS forum for an insight into how our conventional health-care model (designed around acute rather than chronic illness) isn’t meeting patients’ needs. Chronically ill people frequently become isolated, depressed and anxious about their future.

If this is your experience it may be time to enlist the most important member of your healthcare team; YOU!

Research consistently reports that effective self-management improves longterm health outcomes with chronic illness.

Those who take an active role in the understanding and treatment of their illness score better on quality of life indicators and live longer.

We only access doctors and specialists for the briefest intervals throughout our lives. The real work happens on the battleground of the day-to-day, with only ourselves to bear witness, problem solve and keep moving forward.

It’s easy to feel a disease like AS disempowers us, but there’s a lot to be gained from challenging this idea and getting back in the driver’s seat.

What does effective self-management look like?

There are many ways to take a more active role in your own healthcare. Some suggestions include;

  • noticing your body’s unique experience of AS and valuing the insight this provides
  • learning to self-advocate and communicate clearly with healthcare professionals
  • remaining optimistic and solution-oriented in relation to problems caused by AS
  • becoming curious and well-informed about treatment options and lifestyle modifications
  • forming connections and building community with like-minded people who have AS.

How can a Health Coach help?

Self-management can feel daunting to begin with. Coaching can equip you with the resources and motivation to start doing things differently, to explore new treatment options or make lifestyle adjustments. The process begins with questions around your future, determining the difference between where you are now and where you’d like to be with your health. The next stage is about creating small, doable steps to get you moving in the right direction, providing support and accountability along the way.

How would you describe your journey with AS so far; have you felt in control or more like a passenger in a runaway train?

If you’d like to brainstorm together I’d love to hear from you. Send me an email via the contact form below. First consults are always free so that you can decide if the coaching process would be of value to you.