I contracted a rare form of arthritis while in high school

A WOMAN diagnosed with a rare form of arthritis as a teenager said it was like she was “struck by lightning”.

Kate Liberty, 24, was studying for her high school diploma when she experienced “flashing” lower back pain that shot up her legs.

Sharp pains in Kate's legs sparked fears of something serious in the doctors


Sharp pains in Kate’s legs sparked fears of something serious in the doctors

Although she initially dismissed them as nothing serious, when they started happening daily, she decided to see a doctor.

Blood tests at her GP office revealed that she had high levels of inflammation.

She was then referred to the Royal Glamorgan Hospital in South Wales for examination scans.

Kate was told she suffered from a rare condition known as ankylosing spondylitis – a form of arthritis that causes the spine to fuse – when she was just 18.

Kate told Wales Online: “It was quite a shock at first but I was fortunate to be diagnosed within six months of the onset of symptoms.

“I know that for some people it can take years to get their diagnosis.

“I had gone through an extremely tough time at home during high school and the diagnosis was another added burden.

“At first I felt very alone and my family and friends didn’t understand what I was going through.”

Kate, from Llantrisant, Rhondda Cynon Taf, Wales, said ankylosing spondylitis is a progressive condition and her mobility is likely to worsen over time.

When she has so-called “pain days,” she needs help with everyday tasks like getting dressed.

Kate said: “I get a lot of pain at night trying to sleep.

“About three or four hours into my sleep I have to get up or try to sleep sitting up because my back hurts a lot if I lie on it for too long.

“I get sharp pains when going from a sitting position to standing.

“When I’m having a really bad day, I have to rely on my husband for a lot of things — and I feel like I’m losing my independence.”

Kate said it took a while for her to accept that she had the condition, especially as she focused on her upcoming exams.

She also had some family issues at home, which she said were “way out of my control.”

Kate said: “It was also difficult to be diagnosed at 18 because that’s when all my friends started going to all the bars and nightclubs in Cardiff.

“But I felt really uncomfortable going out because I just knew I was going to be in pain and I wasn’t going to enjoy it.

“I felt like I lost a lot of memories of my friends before they all went to college.”

Kate says her condition is likely to cause her more pain over time.

It’s likely that her bones in her lower back will start to fuse and form new bones, which could affect her mobility.

Kate said: “But I’m really lucky to live in a time where there are a lot of new medical treatments for people like me.

She said there is also a stigma attached to her invisible illness.

Kate said: “If I were on a train, for example, I would be embarrassed to ask anyone for a seat.

“People often wonder how I can have arthritis when I’m so young.

“I didn’t really get a lot of support from anyone at school, it just came from my really close friends, my mom, my aunt and my then-boyfriend-now-husband.”

After Kate received the diagnosis, she discovered that her grandfather, who died when she was only four years old, had also spent much of his life with ankylosing spondylitis.

In addition to her ankylosing spondylitis, Kate found out that she has Crohn’s disease, a common complication of ankylosing spondylitis since both are autoimmune diseases.

Despite her chronic illness, Kate decided to take part in the Walk Your AS Off Challenge to raise money for the National Axial Spondyloarthritis Society (NASS).

She wants to walk 10,000 steps every day in May.

Kate added: “I want to give back to this amazing charity that has given me so much advice over the last six years and be able to fund other people who may have been newly diagnosed and need that support.

“I really want to raise awareness about the disease because I hadn’t heard of it before I was diagnosed, and pretty much everyone I’ve spoken to hasn’t either.”

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She also has an Instagram account which has helped her connect with other people with similar conditions.

You can donate to their GoFundMe page here

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https://www.thesun.ie/health/8776237/arthritis-during-a-levels-feels-like-lightning/ I contracted a rare form of arthritis while in high school

Fry Electronics Team

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