Miranda’s Story with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis

Miranda’s Story with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis

Miranda Gerber, now 19, was diagnosed with Polyarticular Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthitis just before she turned two years old.  She, like many children faced with arthritis, underwent social hardships, physical pain, and daily doses of medications that sometimes made her feel worse.  In spite of her past however, and still fighting through arthritis presently, she holds strong and never loses hope that one day things will turn around.  Below, is her story…

 

What treatment protocol have you undergone and what has been most effective for you?

I have been on naproxen, methotrexate, enberel, humira, remicade, orencia, and I am currently on a monthly double dose infusion of actemra as well as 20 mg of arava daily.

What has juvenile arthritis meant to your life?

Having juvenile arthritis has made me the person I am today. Growing up with JRA has not been easy at all, but I believe that all the struggles I have faced and continue to face have made me a stronger and has taught me to be thankful for everything that I have. One of the most important places JRA has taken me is to college to be a nurse. Growing up I saw doctors and nurses very often, but one thing I never hated was the nurses. They were always so kind and warm and I knew from a very young age that I wanted to be one of them. I am now in my sophomore year of college studying to be a pediatric oncology nurse practitioner. I believe that JRA has not only given me the drive to succeed and accomplish my goals, but it also allowed me to see who I wanted to become. JRA has made my family and I very close and I am so grateful that I have the relationship I have with them.

What are some of the challenges you faced as a family in dealing with JRA?

One of the first challenges my family and I faced was giving me medications. Like any kid, I was not particularly thrilled having to take pills and shots, especially when I knew they were going to make me feel sick. There were many long nights as a child that I can remember my parents trying to give me my medicine and me protesting against it. My mother had to give me two shots every week at one point, and as much as I didn’t want to get them, my mother didn’t want to give them to me either. We also had to deal with flare-ups throughout my disease. At one point in middle school I could not walk for a week due to a very bad flare-up, I was out of school and had to be carried everywhere by my parents. While the emotional stress of JRA impacted me, it also impacted my parents as they were there with me every step of the way. I am extremely grateful for all that they have done and all that they continue to do for me.

What are some of the challenges you faced as a kid dealing with JRA?

Some of the biggest challenges I faced were trying to cope with the side effects that came with my medications. I am an awful pill taker and I hate shots, and even though people say that if you do something enough you’ll get use to it, I never did. The side effects not only took their physical toll, but also came with an emotional toll as well. I became very self-conscious and did not do things that I really wanted to do. The medications also lowered my immune system causing me to get sick more often and miss school. Having a disease that most people couldn’t actually “see” made things difficult as well. Many times I was treated as though I was faking it or just being lazy and people thought that there wasn’t anything really wrong with me. All of these challenges, however, made me appreciate everything that I have and made me a stronger person. So although the challenges I faced were not fun, I am grateful that I am able to take something out of them.

Has juvenile rheumatoid arthritis impacted the type of activities you can do?

Some days I can do almost anything, but other days I cannot do things that seem very simple. Right now, I cannot do a lot of activities that involve my joints including most sports.

What are your interests?  Plans for the future?

I really love karate and horseback riding as well as volunteering with the youth through my college. I am hoping to one day become a Pediatric Oncology Nurse Practitioner at Duke Children’s Hospital.

Do you have a message you’d like to convey to others suffering with juvenile arthritis or other arthritic diseases?

To all the kids that have this disease, I just want them to know that they are not alone. There are other people out there that know exactly how they are feeling and what they are going through. Even though this disease can get very frustrating at times, you just gotta stay positive and never lose hope of remission. That hope keeps you going.

Do you have an arthritis story to share? If so, please contact us.

ANRF
Article Author
Arthritis National Research Foundation
arthritisresearch@curearthritis.org

The Arthritis National Research Foundation's mission is to provide initial research funding to brilliant, investigative scientists with new ideas to cure arthritis and related autoimmune diseases. Writing articles about the patients affected and the science being done to find a cure shows why we need to come together to #CureArthritis!

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