“As a teenager I started asking lots of questions about my arthritis”
Being diagnosed with a fairly uncommon condition such as juvenile idiopathic arthritis, which affects one or two in every 1,000 children, can make it tricky to manage. Knowing where to turn to for information and advice can make a positive difference in being able to manage your condition day to day, as Jasmine has found.
Here, Jasmine, who’s lived with juvenile idiopathic arthritis most of her life, talks about how she uses our information and advice to help her manage her condition.
I was diagnosed with juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) at just one year old, after contracting a virus. After I got over the virus my mum said I would cry out and scream in pain whenever she tried to stand me up, and I couldn’t walk.
After several mornings of the same thing, mum and dad took me to the local GP surgery first thing in the morning. They wanted the doctor to see me try to stand on my feet as soon as I had woken up, to see the pain I was in. The GP sent me straight to Alder Hey children’s hospital, where after observations and blood tests I was quickly diagnosed with JIA.
When I was two, I was diagnosed with uveitis, which is inflammation in the eye related to JIA.
I lost partial sight in my eye due to uveitis and had cataract surgery when I was seven, when the condition got really bad. They had to remove the lens of my eye so now I wear a contact lens daily.
The condition is really unpredictable and just last year it flared up badly again and I needed steroid injections and steroid eye drops to manage the condition.
Fatigue is something I deal with on a regular basis
At the moment I manage JIA with weekly injections and daily tablets. But I have to pace myself every day because fatigue is something I deal with on a regular basis - to the point where I have to take naps throughout the day.
The injections and tablets also weaken my immune system, so I am prone to picking up infections and virus’ really easily which means I can fall ill more than most people.
On top of that, having uveitis can make it really difficult to study for exams. My eyes can become quite strained and I see ‘floaters’ which can distract my vision.
Over the years I’ve seen my rheumatologist regularly and as a teenager I started asking lots of questions about my condition. He gave me a couple of leaflets from the charity and suggested I check the website out.
Versus Arthritis has helped me to understand my condition and my body more
I use the website to read up about all the drugs I’ve been recommended to find out about what they actually are, what their side effects are and what research has been carried out.
I’m also a first-year pharmacy student so am particularly interested in finding trusted, reliable sources of information.
Versus Arthritis has helped me to understand my condition and my body more. I really value the advice about what types of exercise I could do, and what foods I should be eating.
I took up Pilates off the back of reading advice on here and changed my diet to cut out sugary drinks and introduce more fruits and vegetables. I know changing my diet and exercise routine isn’t a cure, but it helps me manage my condition a little better.
Versus Arthritis website is so easy to understand – it’s the only website I look at for advice about my condition.
The most important thing when living with arthritis is definitely to remain positive
If I had one piece of advice for someone with JIA, it would be to not let arthritis become the main highlight of your life. The most important thing when living with arthritis is definitely to remain positive, don’t let it rule your life and speak to people like family, friends or someone from the Versus Arthritis charity, don’t bottle anything up because people want to help.
Thousands of people, like Jasmine, use our website every day as a trusted source of information.
Do you have a question about arthritis? We have a number of ways we can help you find the answers to your questions. Find out more here.