Hi, my name is Jennifer Visscher ~ On October 1st, 2020 it was 10 years since I took a giant leap into a year long project to raise awareness of a disease I have called Ankylosing Spondylitis or Axial Spondyloarthritis ~ A.S. for short.
My story is like so many who have A.S. It’s about the challenges we face when our health is compromised and severe pain & fatigue invades our bodies. We’re told many demoralizing things like, “yeah, my back hurts too” or “try Turmeric, it will stop your joint pain!”
Most of the suggestions are well meaning and valid – I now incorporate many into my health regiment.
BUT… during what I call the crisis years… when your body is in such revolt and you have no answers – these suggestions are not helpful. We need educated doctors and empathetic family and friends. We need to be heard so that we can get back to our lives.
For many with AS it takes almost 10 years to receive a diagnosis. My search was exhausting, frustrating, and long but I finally found a Rheumatologist who didn’t give up. After finally receiving a diagnosis the recovery back to myself could finally begin.
With a treatment plan I started to feel a bit better ~ the crisis was past ~ I could think again and I was angry. I wanted to scream at the unfairness that my 30’s were basically a bust. At this point I was trying to figure out how to move past the hurt and do something constructive with the new understanding of what I had just endured.
I wondered how I could share my story to help others. Ten years is too long to be in such pain and basically disabled – I was even almost bed ridden for the last few years. (Those who knew me before AS and those who know me now find this very difficult to imagine and it is a difficult truth to share but it’s so very important) If you are struggling with any health crisis I hope my story gives you strength and hope. AS treatments aren’t a magic pill, the disease is difficult, and it fluctuates from day to day and year to year but there is hope once diagnosed.
I wanted to share hope and information, so “Art Apple A Day” was created ~ apples being the symbol of health.
Each day, for a full year, via my blog and social media, I shared a piece of apple art along with stories of challenges, thoughts, and successes. My apples became a vehicle to discuss difficult topics in a joyful manner and to my surprise I also found so many amazing people who understood what I had gone through because they too had AS. The community of strong and loving people have become like family.
The year was a challenge in so many ways but I wouldn’t change it for anything and I am stronger for it! Now after all this time, I will share the journey once again, along with new insights and 12 new apples – one for each month this time! I hope you’ll say hello and join me once again of for the first time because An Art Apple A Day might not keep the doctor away but I promise you it will be something interesting and positive in your timeline!