Among patient partners who reviewed Arthritis by the Numbers – a collection of verified arthritis facts and figures – was the Soler family of Georgia. Robin Soler has been active with the Arthritis Foundation ever since her younger daughter, Isabela, was diagnosed with juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA). At the time she was one of the youngest children in the state to be diagnosed with JIA at just 12 months old.
Over the past 15 years, mother and daughter have seen about 50 different doctors and scores of other medical experts. Isabela has taken at least 20 different types of prescription drugs – consuming more than 15,000 pills in her lifetime, not including antibiotics and other normal childhood drugs. She has missed countless parties and playdates, and one recent semester had to skip 7th period 21 times for doctor’s appointments.
Isabela’s mother, Robin, is a developmental psychologist and senior scientist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. Robin has had her own personal experience with arthritis, diagnosed with fibromyalgia when she was 26, though her chronic pain goes back to her mid-teens.
After reviewing arthritis statistics we’ve collected, Robin’s main takeaway: “I am happy to know there is information out there, but I’m concerned about the pictures the numbers paint for parents. We and our children need to be hopeful.”
Continue reading JA Mom: “I Know Just Enough to Know I Don’t Know Enough.”
Charcandrick West has juvenile arthritis. Now he’s dodging tackles in the NFL.
It’s a scene fans of the Kansas City Chiefs football team know well: Charcandrick West crashes into a tackler, spins and breaks free, then shifts into high gear as he races downfield. Yet Charcandrick, now in his fourth season as a running back for the Chiefs, never forgets that he has faced a more challenging opponent: systemic juvenile idiopathic arthritis (sJIA). It appeared at age 14, and symptoms became so severe that one doctor predicted the teen might never walk again, much less play football.
Continue reading Unstoppable: Charcandrick West’s Story
For 17-year-old Allison Alberts of Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, waking up with pain is an everyday occurrence for her. Some days the pain is manageable and can be helped along by a hot shower or a run to loosen up her body. Other days, Allison might struggle to get out of bed and looks to her father, Jamie, to help her walk or give her joints a comforting massage.
“There are many days I wish I could be normal, let alone feel normal for a day – a day without any pain, “says Allison. “But complaining does nothing. Complaining won’t take away the pain and complaining won’t allow my fingers to look normal. The way I go about my day is to let my arthritis and my body know that they will not stop me.”
Continue reading Champion of Yes: A Three Sport Athlete, Allison Alberts Charges Forward Through Arthritis Pain
American chefs Ruth Graves Wakefield and Sue Bridges invented the chocolate chip cookie in 1938 and served them as a sweet snack and dessert at the Toll House Inn in Whitman Massachusetts. Little did they know the impact their invention would have on a little girl from Greensboro, North Carolina some 67 years later.
Continue reading The Secret Power of Chocolate Chip Cookies
You would never know by watching Kyle Elmore’s backhand shot that the 14-year-old athlete from Iowa has polyarticular juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA). Kyle was diagnosed with JIA two years ago, but he decided that he was not going to let arthritis stop him from doing what he loves.
The Elmore family’s journey to a diagnosis was long and frustrating. “I remember experiencing a lot of pain in my knees and ankles, especially in the morning,” says Kyle. “My knees were so swollen that you couldn’t see my knee caps!”
Continue reading Iowa Teen with Arthritis is an Ace on and Off the Tennis Court
152. That’s the number of days Kristen McAllister, also known as Kmac, spent in the hospital in 2015. That’s 152 days out of school, away from friends and way out of her comfort zone. But, 152 days represents a mere fraction of the battle Kristen, now 21 years old, has been fighting since she was child.
At just 10 years old, Kristen faced her first surgery to remove rheumatoid nodules from her knee and hand. By the time she turned 11, Kristen had several painful joints, was often fatigued and dealt with unexplained fevers. A three-month course of antibiotics seemed to resolve her symptoms — temporarily.
“Kristen was doing so well for awhile that she made the middle school dance team as a rising sixth grader,” recalls Michele McAllister, Kristen’s mother. “We assumed her middle and high school years would always include dance team, competitive cheerleading, church activities and school clubs. But we were wrong.”
Another knee surgery relieved much of Kristen’s pain, but the fevers, joint aches and extreme fatigue returned. Like it is for many children, the road to diagnosis was a long and winding one.
Continue reading More than Just Aches and Pains – Kmac Fights her Biggest Battle with Arthritis Yet
Call it mother’s intuition. When Nicole Doyle woke up one morning with an unexpectedly swollen, hot and painful finger, her mother knew something was wrong. Even though Nicole’s pediatrician initially dismissed the thumb mystery as an injury caused by play, Nicole’s mom kept pressing for answers.
“We went to doctor after doctor, eventually ending up at an adult rheumatologist due to the fact that only about 250 pediatric rheumatologists exist in the entire United States,” recalls Nicole, now 18 years old. “As a three year old, I did not want to be there and have them examining me. I just wanted to go back home and play with my brother.”
Nicole’s visit with the adult rheumatologist is a day she will never forget.
Continue reading From Methotrexate to Miss Teen Minnesota: Nicole Finds Strength In Doing What She Loves
“I’ll never forget one night when she was crying in pain and rocking back and forth in her little rocking chair and said, ‘God, why won’t you help me? Mama, please help me!’”
Amanda Vizier, of Jackson, Miss., endured an eight-month nightmare trying to find a correct diagnosis and treatment for her daughter, Chloe, now 8 years old.
On Chloe’s sixth birthday, in 2010, she developed a rash. The doctor said it was probably some virus, and not to worry about it.
Within a couple of days, she started running a fever and we went back to the doctor. Chloe was diagnosed with Rocky Mountain spotted fever and went on antibiotics, but they didn’t help. For more than three weeks she had a fever of 104. She developed abdominal pain, she started limping, her rash was itching and she was screaming in pain. She ended up in the hospital for a few days. Over months of testing, doctors ruled out cancer, lupus and even juvenile arthritis. After all, her joints weren’t swollen.
She was diagnosed with strep throat, then with chronic hives. An allergist asked if she was just anxious.
Continue reading A Long Wait for Answers with JIA