Grant’s take on diagnosis and meeting other JA kids

When I found out I had juvenile arthritis, I had a lot of mixed emotions. I was relieved to find out that I wasn’t crazy – there were real reasons for the way I was feeling, and we finally knew the cause. But, I was also sad to know I had an incurable disease. I was scared and angry. I wondered how I would play sports, go to school and do all the other little things in everyday life. I knew some people who had arthritis (like my dad and grandparents with osteoarthritis), so I also knew how much it could hurt. I was afraid that having arthritis would prevent me from realizing my dreams of playing in the NFL like my dad. Then, when I was told that the type of arthritis I had was totally different from osteoarthritis, I was even more confused. I didn’t know what to think, and the not knowing made me worry even more. Talking with friends didn’t help much, they just didn’t get it. Talking to my mom helped some, but she doesn’t have it, so it wasn’t the same. When I got involved in a study where I got to talk to other kids with the same diagnosis over the phone, that made a big difference. Being diagnosed with JA is scary and frustrating. Not knowing what’s ahead is the worst. My advice is to ask your parents how you can meet other kids with the same diagnosis so you don’t feel as alone, afraid or helpless. It really helped me get through the early days, and some of my worst times.

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