A man who was bed-ridden for seven months after being struck down with a condition which attacks the spine has fought back to take part in a 16-hour triathlon.
Stuart Blake, 48, of Chestnut Avenue, Buckhurst Hill, was diagnosed with Anklosing Spondylitis in 2011.
It is a type of chronic arthritis that affects parts of the spine, including bones, muscles and ligaments, leaving around one in 10 sufferers at risk of long-term disability.
The father-of-three said the condition was missed by doctors for ten years and he took part in the Ironman triathlon in Switzerland to raise awareness.
He said: “I first started having pain in my back, which then extended into my neck and legs.
“Despite going to the doctor multiple times, I was always told to stop playing sport and relax.
“When I was formally diagnosed with Anklosing Spondylitis, I was told that the best thing to do with the condition is exercise, so I began building up my training again.
Despite having to take up to 12 tablets a day and an injection every month, Mr Blake said he is doing well.
Mr Blake has also started his own blog to share his experience of the condition.
The triathlon raised £175 for Anklosing Spondylitis charity NASS (National Anklosing Spondylitis Society) and Mr Blake plans to raise more over the coming years.
He said: “I am so lucky to be where I am today, a friend of mine online was misdiagnosed for 20 years and now he can’t even sit in a chair.”
“It is taking on average 10 years to diagnose this condition and for some this is too late.
“NASS work hard and are getting the word out there to raise awareness of this silent condition which is why I want to help.”
You can follow Stuart’s progress or donate, here and visit his blog, here.