Joppe is a 33-year-old landscape architect from Netherlands with a
love for cycling and bushwalking. 4 years ago, he started getting
lower back pains. Despite regular visits to the physiotherapist there
was no improvement. In fact, he kept presenting with additional
physical symptoms every time he returned to his GP. When he was
finally referred to a rheumatologist later that year, he was diagnosed
with ankylosing spondylitis.
The diagnosis was a relief for Joppe as it meant they could plan a
treatment pathway moving forward. Psychologically though, it was
difficult for Joppe as his usually fit and able body was progressively
When Joppe and his partner moved to Australia at the end of 2017,
the warmer weather seemed to have temporarily improved his conditions.
However, 3 months in, the symptoms started to worsen. “I had just
migrated to a new country and started a new job,” Joppe said, “Getting
my head around the new culture and new job was challenging in itself,
but on top of that I was fatigued and sore all the time.” He was
forced to stop running and cycling. “It had a big impact on my mental
health,” he admitted.
An appointment with a local rheumatologist started him on some
anti-inflammatory medications which had minimal effect. At this stage
he started to experience more pain and had difficulties climbing up
the stairs or getting off a chair. “I felt like a very old man,” said
Joppe, “My toes were swollen, my knees, hips, groin and back were sore
and I had itchy skin rashes on my legs.” Physiotherapy didn’t help
alleviate any of the symptoms Joppe was experiencing.
After several different treatments, Joppe’s symptoms improved. He
has been regularly cycling 150km a week and is looking forward to his
2300km cycling trip around NSW over five weeks, after which he will be
starting a new job.
When asked what he would like to share to the community, he had this
to say: “I’d like to share what my rheumatologist said to me - don’t
accept it or get used to it; you can get your life back and live a
full and normal life. Initially this message was hard to believe, but
he was right. It is a hopeful message and helped me through some of
the darker moments.”
AbbVie Pty Ltd.
241 O’Riordan Street,
March 2021. AU-HUMR-210001