Told in her own words.
Sometime in 2006 I started to have trouble with my right wrist, lots of pain and swelling, and, at first, we thought I was sleeping on it funny because it was stiff in the mornings. Then a couple of months later it started in the left wrist. Not long after that it was in my ankle. My parents took me to all kinds of doctors who couldn’t figure out what was going on. Finally in January of 2007, we went to a pediatric rheumatologist. In March of 2007, I was diagnosed with JRA. I am now 14 years old.
Since this all started I have been through a lot of ups and downs, not knowing why this was happening to me. I have learned a lot talking to other kids on the Arthritis Foundation website, and no longer feel like I’m alone. I have arthritis in most of my big joints, including both wrists, both knees, one ankle, both hips, one shoulder, and some of my small joints, like my toes. I would like to do what I can to make others aware that even though I have this condition, I’m just like every other kid. My friends have been real supportive, but when this first happened they didn’t believe me that I had arthritis, they said “that’s what old people get.”
I have some good days and some not so great, but I do know I will make every day the best it can be. I will not let arthritis get the best of me. I make sure to be as active as I can, with cheerleading and tumbling. My school has also been very supportive, like my gym teacher who understands that sometimes I just have to sit out of class because I’m having a bad day. When I hear my classmates complain about taking gym, I say to be grateful that you can participate without the worries I have -- wishing that I could everyday be in gym without being in pain. I want to share my story in hopes that if there is someone out there feeling alone like I was in the beginning, that they’re not.
I don’t know what the future holds for me and arthritis, but I will try my best at everything. I have been a straight-A student for six years now even during my really bad year, when I missed at least 40 days of school! I won the science fair and was acknowledged in the newspaper for doing a project on what cigarettes do to people. Someone from the health department also acknowledged it, and I hope to help them get the word out to kids not to smoke. Your life and body are too precious; you have to take real good care of it. My wish and dream that I know will come true is that we will find a cure for all people who suffer with JRA. We have to be positive and let people know about it and what they can do to help. I would like to organize an Arthritis Walk in my town to help the cause.
Copyright 2010, Arthritis Foundation. Adapted with permission from Let’s Move Together, 2010.