Kids also get arthritis:
Colin Johnson’s story
Submitted by Tanya Misseghers for the Arthritis Society, Manitoba & Nunavut Division
Colin Johnson of Winnipeg is a typical 12 year old. He rides his bike around his neighbourhood. He has a blue belt in karate, he takes swimming lessons, and he plays video games. But Colin has a secret. At 19 months of age, he was diagnosed with juvenile arthritis.
Juvenile arthritis (JA) is one of the most common chronic diseases among Canadian children and adolescents under the age of 16. Specialists in this field tell us that approximately 61,500 Canadian toddlers, youths and young adults live with the intense pain and disability of arthritis. That’s at least one case for every school.
Juvenile arthritis significantly impacts a child’s quality of life and, if left untreated, may result in irreversible joint damage and disability. It takes a serious social, emotional and physical toll on children.
In Colin’s case, during a weekend away, he would run up to his grandfather, suddenly stop, sit down and cry. He was very stiff when his family would try to get him up to walk. A registered nurse, his mom Dorie took him to their family doctor who referred them to a pediatric rheumatologist. After a series of blood tests came the verdict of JA.
Today, Colin has been in remission for 24 months, but his hands, knees and ankles are affected. Colin experiences exclusion and has been bullied as he isn’t able to take part in sports. He plays piano to help keep his hands and fingers nimble due to the swelling and joint stiffness.
Colin has also become a valued Youth Ambassador for The Arthritis Society in Manitoba, promoting the Walk to Fight Arthritis, and appearing as guest speaker at the Society’s annual Christmas Carol Breakfast.
Colin’s family says, “Colin has been our hero. In spite of the challenges that he’s had to face, he has been strong and courageous and has never used it as an excuse to give less than 100%”.
Colin’s personal experience that people are not familiar with JA was confirmed recently by a national survey commissioned by The Arthritis Society. The Ipsos Reid survey revealed that 80 per cent of respondents, including parents with children below the age of 16, are unfamiliar with JA.
According to The Arthritis Society, if your child experiences any of the following warning signs for JA over a few weeks, you should consult your family doctor:
• Pain and stiffness in the joints (for example: knees, elbows, fingers);
• Warmth of joints;
• Stiffness in the morning or after waking from naps;
• Limping or difficulty using an arm or leg;
• Fatigue or loss of interest in recreational activities.
For more information about juvenile arthritis and The Arthritis Society, please contact The Society at 204.942.4892, toll-free 1.800.321.1433 or go to our website: www.arthritis.ca.