When you hear the word arthritis you generally think of old people just getting old and their bodies not working like they used to right? I know I did! Nobody thinks about kids getting arthritis, or what arthritis actually does to your body. Thats what I want to change. I want to give a voice to the 61,500 kids living in Canada that deal with arthritis every day.
So what is arthritis anyways? That’s just it! Arthritis is just an umbrella term to sum up over 100 different medical conditions that all act a bit differently. The common thread among these 100-plus conditions is that they all affect the musculoskeletal system and specifically the joints. For many people with arthritis, however, joint involvement is not the extent of the problem. Many forms of arthritis are classified as systemic, meaning they can affect the whole body. In these diseases, arthritis can cause damage to virtually any bodily organ or system, including the heart, lungs, kidneys, blood vessels and skin. The most common out of them all is Osteoarthritis (OA), the most common form of arthritis, is a progressive degenerative joint disease characterized by the breakdown of joint cartilage. Next is JA, or Juvenile Arthritis. Basically that’s what you get when you have some form of arthritis and you’re under 16, but it’s just another umbrella term for the many different forms. Then there’s Rheumatoid Arthritis. This is what I’ve got!
I was diagnosed last summer when I broke my foot. Turns out it broke because of arthritis. I’d been a competitive figure skater for 10 years, super active, I ate right, I was 17…yea defiantly wasn’t expecting to hear that I had “arthritis.” Because of the damage of all the little joints in my feet I was forced told I couldn’t skate anymore, couldn’t run, couldn’t open my water bottle…after it spread around my body I had to learn how to do lots of things differently. (if you want a laugh watch my try and open those child proof medicine lids while my hands are flaring, like seriously who puts arthritis pills in a bottle that an arthritic person can’t open? It’s a gong show lol)
Wikipedia describes it as “Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease that results in a chronic, systemic inflammatory disorder that may affect many tissues and organs, but principally attacks flexible (synovial) joints. It can be a disabling and painful condition, which can lead to substantial loss of functioning and mobility if not adequately treated.” I like to think of it as my white blood cells don’t recognize my joints as me, so they like to nibble them.
If you told me a year ago that I’d have arthritis and be taking over 70 pills a week and giving myself and injection of chemo on top of that I’d laugh in your face. If I don’t though I can’t do normal things like walk up stairs or go to school. I’m not happy that I have it. It seriously sucks sometimes, BUT I’ve learnt a lot about myself and that I can do anything. Hopefully this showed you the other side of arthritis. The side that stops little kids from playing and being a kid. I don’t want this disease to rob another child of their childhood. With awareness and support we can stop that.