Back to Stories Index


Mark's Story
Mark Mikkelson

I'm writing to hopefully give a little support to that one person who is exactly like I was a year ago. There are so many stories, and so much information, that it will be dumb luck if the right person reads this, but my heart won't let me NOT give support to someone who is looking for it like I was not so long ago.

The person I'm talking to has suffered for a long time, and has finally been diagnosed with ankylosing spondylitis, and wants to know what the heck (expletive deleted for the sake of the site) to do. This person has been given the option of surgery.

When I looked on the web a year ago for some support, I was incredibly discouraged. I was told by a surgeon that I would benifit from a "closing wedge osteotomoy", a surgery that would "straighten me up". I came to "cyber world" hoping to find stories that made me believe that this was a good idea. I didn't. I can't express to you how wrong the nay-sayers were.

I read stories from people who said that medical technology couldn't help them. With all due respect to all of the suffering in the world, I wanted mine to be @!#$% over. It is, at least for now, and the outlook is good.

I'm convinced (by the literature) that everyone isn't the same when it comes to this disease. As far as I can tell, the only effect I ever experienced was the forward curving of my spine. If you have other problems, then maybe I can't help you. I would love to, but I don't think I can.

This is just for the person who suffered with "back pain" and then the forward curving of the spine, until finally, he/she found out what it is, and what he/she can do about it.

If you just found out that a surgery might help you, and you came here looking for some information, please let me tell you just a little of my story.

I'm not an incredible physical specimen, anyway, but people I haven't seen since my surgery invariably say "YOU LOOK GREAT!!" My friends wonder why it took me so long to do it. Some wonderful people endured years of physical, and then emotional pain with me, only to be awed by the transformation. The disease that challenged me, and made me a better person, I believe, is now conquered by titanium rods and screws. Please don't doubt medical technology, or the surgeons.

I spent eighteen years in one kind of pain or another. My back stopped hurting about ten years ago, but the emotional pain of not being able to stand up straight didn't go away, until recently. Maybe I just didn't feel the physical pain any more, but what really hurt, and kept hurting, was the first time I walked past a window and saw my reflection in it. I cried all the way to the car, and never stopped crying, until recently.

If you're wondering whether or not this surgery will help you, I am proud to be telling you that it I think it will. It's not easy, but it's easy compared to what you've been through. Walking into a restaurant with a group of good-looking friends, knowing for certain that everyone is looking at you, is not easy. Standing in line, for you, right now, is not easy. It will be. I'm over the honeymoon period now, but for a while there, I LIKED standing in line-just because I could.

I have other things to be insecure about now. If you think this will completely change your life, it will, but it won't change who you are. If all you've ever wanted is to be normal, you will be. You won't have any excuses anymore. That's a good thing. I was looking for that "ABC After School Special" new lease on life, and I found it. I had my surgery on December 13, 1999, and I met, and am engaged to be married to, a woman who has only heard about what life was like as "a cripple". It's that good.

It's one person I'm writing to, and I hope that you get "stoked", excited, pumped, or whatever language you use to describe it, to DO this. If you could use a little inspiration, write to me at

I'm an even happier man now, and I want to help you be happy. Do it!

Mark Mikkelson

Valid HTML 4.0 Transitional