Hayley was diagnosed with polyarticular juvenile idiopathic arthritis seven years ago. Since then, she has had seven surgeries on her knees and has taken many different medications to control her arthritis.
When Hayley first began experiencing pain, she and her parents were told that she was probably having growing pains or emotional issues. A dermatologist suggested that Hayley see an orthopedic surgeon, who diagnosed her with juvenile arthritis. The wait for an appointment with a pediatric rheumatologist was months long, so Hayley began seeing an adult rheumatologist because she was in a great amount of pain. When Hayley finally saw the pediatric rheumatologist, she was given a more formal diagnosis and began new treatment.
Hayley’s parents were relieved to know why she was in so much pain, but they did not know that such a long road was ahead. Hayley still takes pills and injections to treat her arthritis, but she stays very active. She quit gymnastics shortly after her diagnosis but was able to find new activities she loves, especially basketball and volleyball.
During a flare, Hayley sometimes has to use crutches or a wheelchair. She and her family are very grateful for the support from family, friends and Hayley’s school. Still, Hayley’s mom says, “There have been so many times where I have shed tears and lost hope of anyone understanding what my daughter is going through.”
Hayley and her family have been grateful to find a community of support within the Arthritis Foundation. After attending the JA Conference, Hayley and her family realized that there are so many families going through the same experience. Hayley’s mom was so thankful for everything she learned at the JA Conference, “The conference not only educated me on medications, additional care and treatments, and school rights but it also showed me that I wasn’t alone.”