I just finished decorating cookies with my kids. It’s a Christmas tradition in our house. We love to see how much frosting we can possibly fit on a single cookie. The table and floor is cleaned of all evidence that the kitchen was once covered with sprinkles and icing. For some, what would be a simple task of cookie decorating and clean-up comes to me, a person with Ankylosing Spondylitis, as a big adventure. I know if I tackle a full day of cookies that I will be hurting later. Is it worth it? YES! Every time I started to feel uncomfortable today I would look over to my son’s face covered in red icing and my daughter’s artistic sprinkles covering the table and there was no doubt that the choice I made today was the right one. Their laughter and smiles through the crumbs of sugar cookies gives me an extra boost to keep moving forward. I watch as they critique each other and am so envious of their energy. I must admit I love my sweets. Unfortunately, having AS has made me limit my intake of the yummy foods I once enjoyed. Do I sneak a few? Of course, but maybe not today since I will already be paying for the fact that I stirred several batches of cookie dough and my hands are cramped and swollen. These types of choices are the ones that so many people don’t even have to second guess. I have learned a lot about choices since my diagnosis with AS.

This holiday season I have so much to be grateful for in my life. Just because I have AS does not mean I dwell in the bad times. Positive thinking is the only way this AS’er approaches the AS fight. Thank you to my strong support system who has helped me face an incredible adventure head on and has never made me feel less than whole. I want to thank the Spondylitis Association of America for the multiple ways they have helped me to realize I am never alone in my experience. The information and research they provide to help so many understand the disease has been tremendous. I want to thank the multiple other AS support groups, blog websites and facebook pages that have shared their stories and experiences to help spread awareness. Last, but not least, thank you to all of my personal website and facebook followers. Your support means the world to me. Keep helping to spread AS awareness. Together, we can help set things straight!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

– Amanda, United Voices for Ankylosing Spondylitis

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