Today is world Arthritis Day. I am one of the 300,000 children in the U.S. who has Juvenile Arthritis. I was the perfect baby and standing up by 6 months but then I was in a car accident and that changed everything for my mother (who was only 19) and I. After weeks of chronically projectile vomiting I went to see a rheumatologist who first diagnosed me with Kawasaki disease. Then after that they finally diagnosed me with Systemic Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis. A lot of children get missed diagnosed which if not treated right can be dangerous. As I grew up with a great supportive family I was in and out of strollers, wheelchairs, scooters, powered wheelchairs, and walkers. As I was growing up with JRA I was turned into a Guinea pig trying medicines that only adults were being put on. Up until I was 8 my mom was taking car of 3 kids alone. She was not able to have a decent job where she wasnt fired with in the first month. By the age of 10 I was ready to start a new life I was supposed to be one of the first children in the United States to get a stem cell transplant. But course life doesn’t always go the way you planned. Two weeks before I was supposed to fly out to Seattle to get the stem cell transplant I had sepsis. Sepsis caused me to be in a coma for two months. While I was in a coma my heart was pumping blood to my brain to keep me alive but when that happens sometimes limbs can become necrosised which happened to me. I am very thankful that Sepsis only caused me to loose my toes and fingertips on my left hand when I was supposed to loose so much more. As my family was getting ready to say goodbye to their daughter/sister I was slowly recovering; it was a miracle I woke up from something I wasn’t supposed to survive from. I was in the hospital for another 2 months recovering and learning how to live my life as a new person.
When I was 12 I was able to go to a camp for kids with Arthritis and I have been able to go every summer since. Since I am not a camper anymore I have been able to be on the planning committee for camp and be the camp photographer for two years now. Which I am so happy that I able to lend my help to them since they have helped me in many ways. Before going to camp I felt alone but since my first year I have built relationships that will never end and if I ever need anything they will be there. By the age of 13 I was receiving my first total hip replacement. My freshman year of high school I had 8 ear infections in a year which resulted in me having a mastoidectomy where they found out the infection had ate through my skull so once again I had to miss a month of school for. Being this was my freshman year of school and having to miss half of the school year; this resulted in me having a bad GPA for the rest of my high school career. In 2016 I graduated high school with a 2.9 GPA even though since freshman year I had only earned As and Bs. Last year was my first year of college at Edgewood College which I received a 3.4 GPA and having to go back and forth to Home and school every month for my treatments. This semester I had to take a break for health and financial reasons. Next semester I have to have reconstruction surgery on both ankles I hope I will be healed by the time I start school next fall. I am now 20 going on 21 I am glad to say I have had Arthritis since I was 6 months only because if I wouldn’t have had it then I wouldn’t have been able to meet all the wonderful people I have. As you can see my story has been a roller coaster but I could not have lived my life with out my family and friends.
Thank you to everyone who has been there for me. Thank you for supporting me. Thank you to my nurses and doctors who has helped me. Thank you to my teachers. And to anyone else who has believed in me.
Remember, if you can’t fly, then run. If you can’t run, then walk. If you can’t walk, then crawl, but by all means, keep moving.- Martin Luther King Jr.