Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Our First JAnniversary

Love those normal knees!

A year ago I had never heard of Juvenile Arthritis. I didn't know kids could even get arthritis. That changed pretty quickly.

One year ago today, Emma started to limp in such a way that could not be ignored. For two days she had been waddling in the mornings and I knew something wasn't right. I attributed it to the tetanus shot she'd gotten in her leg at her 15 month check up a few days before, because those things HURT. However, on the 15th of May, 2011, things were worse. That was the beginning of Emma's real pain. She couldn't stand in the mornings and would cry if I made her. When I sat her on the floor she stayed instead of chasing after me. I carried her until after breakfast, then I made her walk it off and start moving, but all day long she was really limping.

That's when we noticed the swollen ankle. Then came the X-ray, the blood work, and more swollen, stiff joints. It wasn't long afterward that I heard the words "Juvenile Arthritis" for the first time.

Thank heaven for Emma's pediatrician who suspected what this really was and diagnosed her promptly. Thank goodness for my dad's friend who has connections and got us in to the rheumatologist swiftly. The average time for diagnosis of autoimmune arthritis is one to three years. It took only TWO MONTHS from the onset of Em's limp to the start of her methotrexate treatment. How much permanent damage might she have if Emma hadn't received quick, aggressive treatment?

This year has brought a wide range of experiences. Pain, stiffness, doctors, oral medications, tears, relief from pain, weekly injections, blood draws, more doctors, more tears, more relief, regained range of motion, decreased swelling, no more oral meds, more laughter, more smiles. Tears of joy.

I have been introduced to a wonderful community of fellow JA families and have gained strength and information from parents who know our struggle. That has been a huge blessing in my life and I am thankful for the friends I have made this year.

Here's the good news: Emma has NO ACTIVE ARTHRITIS.
She started getting Enbrel in October, and once it kicked in things improved rapidly. Em's rheumatologist found no active arthritis during our January and April check ups. If that's still the case in July, then Em will be consider in medical remission! If things continue in this awesome trend, we'll likely treat for a year, then try to wean off meds!

Since JA is typically a lifelong disease, I'm hoping, praying, and keeping my fingers crossed that my girl goes into remission, even if it's only temporary. I want my kid to have a few years of a "normal" childhood, free of pain.

So, a very happy JAnniversary to you, my Emma.

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