Even after I had suffered from symptoms for years, being diagnosed with juvenile arthritis brought a lot of fear and hopelessness. I wondered what my future would look like. Would it get worse? My diagnosis was a tough pill to swallow, and every appointment for the first year after that brought up some hard emotions.
I’ve been treated for JA for years now, and I’ve been writing about it almost as long. But one thing I’ve realized through research and my own experience is that things are getting better.
If your child was recently diagnosed with JA, let me reassure you of one thing: The future is bright. Of course, not every day will feel that way, and I’m not saying your child won’t face difficult roads. But there are many reasons to be hopeful, including improved treatments and a more accessible world.
A few years ago, I came across some old pictures of campers from juvenile arthritis camp. The earlier pictures showed kids using wheelchairs and wearing big, clunky braces, and there were a lot fewer campers. But photographs from more recent years show only a small number of kids requiring mobility aids.
JA treatments are advancing rapidly. It’s incredible how quickly we’re making progress. Even predictions about how well a child will react to treatments have seen improvements. I saw attitude, opinions, and treatment plans change from when I met my pediatric rheumatologist to when I transitioned to an adult specialist. Biologics, in particular, have been a game-changer in the way we treat juvenile arthritis.
There’s so much hope beyond the more positive outcomes for people with JA. Life has changed a lot, thanks to technology and the internet. Nowadays, more opportunities exist for people with chronic illnesses to work, learn, and live independently.
Those who might not have been able to leave the house due to disability or risk of infection can now have the same opportunities as their peers. They can work and go to school online. Of course, it’s not perfect, and not every job can be done from home. But it has placed education and employment within reach for so many.
The internet has also helped spread awareness of autoimmune diseases and invisible disabilities. Many people, especially younger people, have become empathetic in the last few years of those suffering invisible diseases. Meeting more and more people who already have an idea of what I’m going through and who are willing to accommodate my needs has been incredible and made me feel more valid in my struggle.
Hope for a future
Every kid’s journey with JA will be different. Some will be able to easily manage their disease activity, while other kids may struggle quite a bit with flares and require more intensive treatment. But try to keep hope and remember how many things are improving for kids with JA.
Note: Juvenile Arthritis News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Juvenile Arthritis News, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to juvenile arthritis.
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