Im in my twenty-first year and I was diagnosed with A.S in March 2004. I started the no starch diet about six months later.

I remember I first started experiencing pain in my hips and legs when I was about 12 years old. It wasnt too bad, but it was always there, and whenever I told anyone they just said it was growing pains. Even the doctor. So I left it at that and hoped it would go away soon. But as I got older, it got worse. At high-school, my hips and legs got worse. Id dread having to get up when the bell rang, because it was so difficult to change position, stand up, etc. with an un-pained expression on my face, or without crying out. But still, its just growing pains. My first real crippling time was when I was about 15. My neck suddenly became so incredibly sore that I literally couldnt move it. If I wanted to lie down, I needed someone to hold my head and lower it onto the pillow, because I couldnt use any muscles at all because it was so painful. I truly thought it was just going to snap. That would last about 3-4 days, and then slowly go away, until a few weeks later it would all start again. I went to the doctor again, he just gave me painkillers, which didnt really work. But I started feeling like I was crazy. Maybe everybody felt this pain, and it was just me that couldnt handle it? Maybe it was all in my head, if the doctor couldnt even realise how extreme the pain was. Then in late 2003, the pain spread and increased much more. It was all through my legs, hips, knees. I coped with it as best I could, and tried to keep exercising, because I like to jog and walk a lot, etc. But in the end, I just couldnt. I couldnt even walk. Walking to the toilet was the most I could handle at a time, and it would take me ages to get there. I started getting really depressed. Sitting, doing nothing is something I abhor. I went to the doctor at the beginning of 2004, and finally he realised there was something truly wrong. He guessed it was A.S, and did blood tests and a few days later I was in the hospital with a specialist. And I was told I had A.S, and it was incurablemaybe Id end up in a wheelchair, it just depended on how extreme my case was. They gave me exercises to do to keep my bones straight, etc. and put me on medication, which Id have to be on the rest of my life. And I did my exercises religiously, hated being on medication, and thought there must be another way!

About six months later a friend told me about an interview they had heard on the radio with a lady called Carol Sinclair, etc. and I went out and bought the book. That day I started the no starch diet and stopped my medication, even though the pain was still there, but I wanted to be able to assess my pain levels. Well it took a while. At first I didnt cut out dairy, and I had a lot of trouble with hidden starches, but after about 3-4 months, with the help of this wonderful forum, three-day apple fasts, cutting out ALL starch and dairy, I managed to reach a level of very little pain, or none at all. I became very underweight, I lived very unhealthily for a time I guess, but for a while I just didnt know what to eat. I just ate salmon and things that would heal my gut. My main aim now was just to heal up my gut. I ate hardly any vegetables or fruit, cos tested, theyd come out starchy. But at least it kept my pain levels down. After a while I started adding more foods; all vegetables (except potatoes and kumara, etc.), fruit (except bananas), and then later, dairy. I must have healed up my gut, because these foods, even if I tested for starch and they were positive, didnt affect me. Recently I slowly introduced rice. I could tolerate little amounts at first, but now I can eat as much as I want. Things like rice flour and rice flakes I can eat in small amounts, but not often. I can also eat chocolate, which I dont eat much, but is so lovely when I do. Now I live completely pain-free, unless I eat something wrong, where I do get pain, but so little I hardly notice now, especially compared to what it was.

It took a while of getting used to, and perfecting, but it sure is the best thing Ive ever done! To think I could still be taking those terrible pills, and slowly crippling up without knowing, and not being able to tell how the A.S was progressing inside me, underneath the veil of the medication, and worried that maybe Id be in a wheelchair when I was older.

But nothing of that now. The best thing about the diet is that we can FEEL how we are getting better! No pain means no stiffening, because it means there really is no inflammation inside us; its not just being masked by medication. And if there is any pain, just keep moving and monitor what youre eating a little closer until it goes away again. Dont lose hope, because no matter how long it takes, it does help so incredibly in the end.

...i've got opium in my chimney, no other life to choose, nightmare made of hashdreams, got the devil in my shoes. tell me, tell me, what have i done wrong, ain't nothing go right with me, must be i've been smoking too long...