As told in her own words, with help from her mom
Sonja was diagnosed with polyarticular juvenile rheumatoid arthritis at the age of four. She had a rare blood disorder and was to receive surgery at age four. About four to five months prior, we noticed that she did not move too well and her joints were stiff. We thought that it may have been from the blood disorder. But a month after surgery when the stiffness didn't go away, she was diagnosed. It has affected all her joints. She has even struggled with rheumatic fever during all this.
“At school when we have fire drills it is hard to walk fast. I have a special stroller to help me walk. I take lots of medicine daily at school. I go to see a doctor every three months to help me and to see if my arthritis gets worse. I also have to go to an eye doctor. I don't like having arthritis because it always hurts all my joints and affects how I am able to do stuff.
I have special things that help me when my joints hurt. When we go to special places at night I got a special wagon so my legs don't hurt. I go to therapy every week to help my hands and I am going to go to therapy to help my legs. I am still able to do stuff that I like and I am still able to swim -- although I didn't know that it was good for my joints. I fear that if my arthritis keeps getting worse I might have to be in a wheelchair. It is hard to keep myself in one spot because of my arthritis so I am always moving around. I hope the doctors are doing lots and lots of research for kids just like me to help.
I know that if I keep taking my medicine and keep exercising I will soon be able to do stuff that I can't do now. Every year me and my family are trying to get some stuff so the kids in my classes understand why I can't do stuff like them. It is hard in school to write in cursive and in print so I got some grips that help me and special pens. I also have therapy at school so I don't move around as much.”