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A (mostly true) History of
Ankylosing Spondylitis
(The true stuff is written in Blue / The comedy stuff is in Maroon.)
Spondylitis is one of the oldest diseases around.
The first person with AS was a caveman named Ow. His eyes, reddened from severe iritis, caused the other members of the tribe to fear him, and ultimately, to stone him to death. He might have escaped, but with his fused spine and stiffened joints, he couldn't move very quickly, and besides, running wouldn't even be invented for another two years.

A disease much like Ankylosing Spondylitis has been discovered in fossils of prehistoric crocodiles, monkeys and horses.
Some theories suggest that AS can be traced all the way back to  Phasmatodea, an order of insects that are also known as stick bugs or walking sticks.  These insects, whose natural camouflage makes them resemble sticks or leaves, may get a form of AS which turns them first into twigs and then into kindling ... Their ability to blend in, makes it difficult to conduct a double-blind study, especially when it's the twin scientists who are the ones who are blind.

At least two Egyptian Pharoahs had AS over 3500 years ago. (Amenhotep II and Ramses the Great )
There is no evidence to support  the rumor that, thanks to a lazy cuneiform writer, Cleopatra was reported to have been bitten by an asp, when in truth,  she was bitten by an ASperson driven insane by pain and the frustration of knowing that NSAIDs wouldn't be invented for another 2,000 years. 

The Roman physician, Galen, noted a distinct difference
between Spondylitis and Rheumatoid arthritis in the Second Century AD.

How long ago was this? Well, meanwhile, in China, they were inventing paper.

Saint Banus (355-395AD) had Spondylitis (and was nicknamed 'Father Palm Tree' because of his stooped posture. The severity of his disease forced him to eat and sleep standing up for 18 years. 
(After that, he broke down and bought a recliner.)  His mother, (a nun, nicknamed Sister Weeping Willow), was also said to be affected.


The anatomist Realdo Colombo described the basics of the disease in 1559.  
His landmark book, entitled, "Oh, and One More Thing" would later be made into a made-for-TV movie starring Peter Falk as Colombo.

The first account of the pathological changes to the skeleton associated with the disease were published in 1691.
(Just in time for the Salem witch trials of 1692)

In 1805, Leonard Trask was born in Maine. He is considered to be one of the first documented cases of AS in America. 

And of course, on March 4th 1875, two cousins, Uriah Stoop and Elias Fuselot, led a be-draggled wagon train filled with friends and family, (most suffering from what was then called the "ossifyin' rheumatiz'), into a lush valley and founded the town which we all now know as Spondyville. In that wagon train were two of Leonard Trask's cousins, Zebulon and Isaac Trask.


In 1818, Sir Benjamin Brodie, documented the connection between Spondylitis and Iritis.  
It is NOT true, however, that upon making the discovery, he shouted, "The eyes have it!"

In the late ninteenth century, Drs. Vladimir Bekhterev, Pierre Marie and Adolph Strumpell, all working separately, in Russia, France and Germany, respectively, wrote the first detailed descriptions of the disease which allowed for a proper diagnosis prior to severe spinal fusion.  In some countries, AS is still called Marie Strumpell disease and in others, Bekhterev's disease.

Drs. Marie and Strumpell, are not to be confused with Spondyville's Marie Strumpell.  She is actually the daughter of Uriah Stoop Jr, son of one of Spondyville's founding fathers.  Her late husband, Tobias Strumpell, met a tragic end on the first day of his retirement, from a nasty paper cut he received when opening the envelope of his first social security check.

In 1973, an association with the gene HLA-B27 was found.

According to a reliable source, (Spondyville's mascot, Stiffy the Snowspondy), the genetic marker's name came about like this: "It seems that one of the scientistsí favorite lab rats was a cute little fellow named Herbie.  Herbie was often allowed to nibble on small bits of food while the scientists prepared him for his daily testing.  In fact, the scientists would often feed him pieces of their own breakfast.  To their surprise, they quickly discovered that Herbie Loves A Bagel.  This is pretty funny stuff for scientists.  So funny, that it soon became a running gag around the lab, and the scientistís could often be heard chuckling about how Herbie Loves A Bagel.  As with all running gags, it was repeated so often that it eventually got shortened to just its initials; HLAB.  The 27 was added later when one of the scientists decided to sign onto AOL and use HLAB as his screen name only to discover that 26 other people had beaten him to it.  And so he had to settle for HLAB-27."

Recently, two more genes associated with the disease were discovered, IL23 and ARTS1.


           

                                   To Be Continued ....