I’ll Handle This, Thanks
Do you dream of the day you’ll go off to college or move away from home? Do you long to set your own rules and control your own life? When you have JA, you know it’ll take a lot of work to gain your independence. But maybe you feel ready to handle anything if that’s what it takes to reach your goal. Get your parents, doctors and nurses on your side, and you can start making progress today.
Step 1: Speak up!
If you want to start managing more of your own medical care, there’s only one way to make it happen. You’ve got to tell your parents and doctors! What it all comes down to is this: Up to now, your parents and doctors have handled certain aspects of your medical care. If you want to take over, it’s only fair to let them know and ask for their support. Consider this an exercise in developing good communication skills. They’re especially important when you have a medical condition like JA, but good communication skills can also help you succeed throughout your life.
Being direct may get you the results you want. (Ask to see your doctors alone, for example, and most likely, the answer will be yes.) Of course, your parents or doctors may believe you’re not ready for certain responsibilities, like administering your own injections. What can you do if that happens? Simply move on to Step 2.
Step 2: Prove you’re ready.
It’s a cliché, but it’s true: Actions speak louder than words. You may feel inclined to debate the issue of whether you’re ready for certain responsibilities. You probably have plenty to say on the subject! But you’ll make a better impression if you simply show you’re capable and ready. Obviously, that doesn’t mean going ahead and doing the very thing you’ve been told not to do. That will only start a fight, and the truth is, it could even be dangerous. After all, you certainly don’t want to prepare your own injections if you’re not sure what you’re doing.
Instead, focus on showing everyone just how mature and capable you are. (Look at me—I have an after-school job and my grades are amazing!) It may seem like a lot of extra work that has nothing to do with your JA, but parents see connections everywhere. When they see a kid who remembers to study, they see a kid they can trust to take on new responsibilities.
Step 3: Don’t stress.
Chances are you’re not leaving home tomorrow. And even if you are, it’s okay to take your time with this stuff. Learning to handle every aspect of your JA is a process. For most people, that process lasts well beyond the day they turn 18.
For now, allow yourself to make mistakes. Don’t worry if you have to backtrack after taking on more responsibility than you can manage. No one will judge you if you can’t accomplish all your goals right away. Be honest with yourself, your parents and your health team. Don’t just tell people what you think they want to hear. Don’t be embarrassed to tell the truth when you need support. Whether you’re moving backward or forward, it’s all part of the process that will, eventually, get you the independence you crave. Along the way, you’ll gain just as much independence as you’re ready to handle.