Being raised in a large family was quite the adventure. We joke we could of been one great sitcom. There was no such thing as quiet in our home. If you wanted to be heard you had to be the loudest. Unfortunately, I admit that I find myself still a creature of this habit. As a child with siblings you know you always have a friend to play, someone to back you up, or even someone to blame. As an adult you quickly learn that those 3 qualities do not change all that much. You have a friend who understands where you come from. They know your happy and painful past and present. I have 3 sisters and 2 brothers. I fall in line as second oldest. For those of you who do not have the gift of a large family, let me tell you that life in a big clan is always “public”. When something happens, good or bad, in our family the calls are made down the line. Within 5 minutes we all know what has occurred. It can be annoying sometimes, but at the same time you know you will always be in the loop whether you are in the next room or thousands of miles away. This is something I would never want any other way. Although we may argue we will be the first to defend one another if someone from the “outside” tries to hurt one of us. We are each different personalities, but with a dash of similar characteristics.
I did not get diagnosed with Ankylosing Spondylitis until I was older, but my siblings have watched me over the years struggle with multiple health issues. Although I had to be strong I do realize the strength that each of them had to hold. When they were young they had to get shipped to family or babysitters so my mom could come to the hospital for a stay, surgery and tests with me. Now being older, I have a sense of guilt for taking our mother away from them for so much time. I know it was nothing I could control, but still find the need to say thank you to my sisters and brothers for allowing me to have extra mom time. You guys never once complained or showed hatred for something I could not handle alone as a young child. You stepped up and proved that family truly does mean always being there for each other.
As of today, I am the only one out of 6 that has been blessed with the Ankylosing Spondylitis diagnosis. I pray it remains that way. I will gladly bare the pain if it means that my siblings will never have to experience a day as an AS’er. When I was first diagnosed I did urge my family to get tested for the HLA-B27 marker. I assured them that it did not mean they will ever have AS, but at the same time it would be something to definitely keep watch for in the future. Early diagnosis and treatment is key when it comes to AS. I am living proof. As far as I am aware all of my siblings are yet to be tested. I cannot shield them from AS, but I will do all I can to protect them from the pain and arm them with the proper tools to support me through this journey.