I just read Malcolm's story and I can really relate. I am 36 and have had AS since my late 20's, only I was just diagnosed maybe two years ago. I led a pretty active life, enjoying basketball, skiing, and especially playing guitar. I have played all my life it seems, since my dad took me to see Elvis when I was in fourth grade. I got really into the rock scene, playing in bands, and attending music school in my early twenties. Rock and roll means holding a guitar while twisting, turning and jumping around, playing crazy solos and singing. I began noticing that after my first really bad back attack, where I could barely walk, that occasionally the day after a gig or practice session, it was painful just to get out of bed. My attacks came more frequently over several years, and no one could figure out why I could barely move. Of course, the lifestyle of a rock musician can mean abusing certain drugs, and alcohol became my choice of painkiller. After all, I had no idea I had a Disease, just a real pain in the back, and all I wanted was to be comfortably numb. Then the muscle spasms got worse, and once out of bed I could barely walk or get dressed. It took me two hours just to get out the door, and I was late to work more and more. My boss thought I was lying, and people told me to read certain books about pain management, and that it was really all in my head. It also ruined at least one relationship with a woman. I knew that there was no way this pain was imaginary, and finally I convinced my HMO to test me for a variety of things. At this time, and now I was mid-thirties, I got iritis, and my eye doctor guessed that I had AS. Blood tests showed HLA-B27, and my doctor said I had a mild case. Yet all the ibuprofen in the world was not helping. After another year I convinced the doctor to send me to a specialist (I hate managed care!) and I was given piroxicam, which helped a flare-up. The specialist is NOT into alternative medicine, but everything I've read points to a vegetarian diet and certain vitamins. I now eat little saturated fat and starches, take vitamins including extra E, B5, Evening Primrose Oil, and SOD. I also got a Simmons Back Care mattress, which is amazing, and I stopped taking piroxicam unless it's an emergency. I am doing great compared to several months ago, and have started exercising again. I still, like Malcolm, dread a sneeze, as my whole back feels like it's being ripped apart. I can not take NSAIDs forever and run the risk of internal bleeding, and even if I'm just in remission, I feel that the alternatives are making me feel better than the NSAID. There is something to belief, isn't there? I have enjoyed the KickAS site, and have come across others in different chat rooms or sites that have seen it as well. I check in from time to time to check out some new info, and I hope sharing this will help others who have unknowingly helped me.