Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Tough Young'ns

Did you know that March is Juvenile Arthritis Awareness Month? Me neither. But apparently it is. I was shopping around online for more RA blogs and stumbled upon that little fact and thought it was interesting.

I wasn't born with arthritis, but I was born with my hip out of place. 
So I had to wear a half body cast for the first good chunk of my life. Poor lil baby.

So let's appreciate those kids out there who live with arthritis and we don't even realize it.

Is this some foreshadowing of my future jaw problems?

Major Tangent! 

 I already feel bad for our future children who will be sure to inherit chubby cheeks. 
Mitch to the left, me to the right.

Back to JRA.

Let's think about this for a bit. Did you realize that there are nearly 300,000 children under the age of 18 in the US that have some form of Juvenile Arthritis? Does it surprise you that Children's Hospital has an entire department dedicated to Rheumatology? It surprises most people.

When I was diagnosed, I was 12. I've told you this before, but think about it . . . 12! TWELVE! Remember middle school? Remember how horrible it was? Now imagine you had a disease that causes your joints to swell and leaves you unable to run around with your friends and do all the things they can do. It's awful. And there are thousands of children in the world that go through this.

Wouldn't have guess she had RA, would you?

I pretended I didn't have it. Most of my friends didn't know I had arthritis and I liked it that way. When I talk to people who are dealing with a child with arthritis I always stress this point. No child, especially around this age, wants to be different from their friends and especially not because of a disease. So they don't talk about it. (I'm sure this brought quite a bit of frustration with my parents who only wanted to know how I was feeling.)

Was I really interested in the weather back then? 
Maybe I was trying to predict joint pain? Ha! 

Most people just assume that arthritis is something that only "old people" get. That's why they're always surprised to meet someone who had it when they were a kid. The sad thing is that as you age, you kind of expect your body to start having troubles. It seems inevitable and predictable. But you never expect a child to go through the same problems as an 80 year old. That's just not fair.

And I'd like to be the first here to say that those kids with RA, well they are some of the toughest kids you'll probably ever meet. They deal with pain on a daily basis, all the while going through the troubles of adolescence.

I didn't let RA stop me from going parasailing in Mexico!

My point? Well, I'm not sure what my point is. Maybe you don't know that there is a child around you with arthritis? Maybe next time you meet someone who mentions juvenile RA you won't second guess them so much? Maybe next time you start to complain about a sore body part you might think about all those kids out there that deal with pain everyday and still manage to do what they have to do.

 I didn't let it stop me from surfing in Hawaii, either!

And if you know someone with JRA, or you meet someone in the future with it, give 'em a break. Cut them some slack. You never know if you're catching them on a bad day. But don't pester them with questions and pity. Especially pity. Don't you dare do it. Unless you want to drive them away, that is!

At the hospital having a Remicade infusion. 
Probably my second or third ever.
OK, I was 18, but still! Big deal for me.

So to all of my buddies with JRA out there in the world, my hat's off to you. I know what you're going through and I'm cheering for you all the way. And who knows, maybe some day there will be a cure for our pain. One can always dream!

Oh, and I promised you all I would post some early pictures of MJ. 

What a cute lil guy, huh?

I love you, my readers!
Take care.

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