The following video was prepared by the 16 to 18 year old group at the 2011 Juvenile Arthritis Conference in Washington, DC:
The first time I watched this video, I cried. I’m older than many of those teens, but I still relate to every word they said, having shared many of their experiences growing up. Watching this video made me want to reach out and hug every one of these strong and inspiring teens! 🙂 I wish that this video could be shown on television, as it does an amazing job of giving insight into Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis and shows that pain, sickness and joint damage are not limited to older persons. It also does a great job of showing that even though you might have a chronic and life-long condition, it’s not the end of the world and you can still enjoy your life.
I remember what it was like growing up with JRA and not having many persons understand what I was going through. Eventually I stopped speaking about it, because I hated persons telling me that I had an old person’s disease (which could be cured with painkillers), or worse, having persons think I was pretending to be sick to get attention. I preferred to push my body and walk with pain, or smile through tears when someone shook my hand a little too roughly, rather than explain to someone that I had arthritis.
For a long time I felt that me having arthritis was the problem. I didn’t realize that there were people who would accept me and understand that I was different, and that it was just a matter of people adjusting to me. I was too young to understand that the world was made up of all types of persons, and that “sick” persons belonged just as much as healthy persons. As I got older and understood my condition, I learned how to explain myself better to my peers. As they got to know me, they accepted me just the way I was and offered assistance when they could. JRA was a tiny part of my package. My true friends liked me for my personality, for my jokes and for my friendship.
If you’re a kid or teen and you’re reading this, please know that you are perfect just the way you are. JRA may have changed your body somewhat, but you are still the same person you were before JRA. Sickness does not define a person and you are so much more than your JRA. You may have some additional battles to fight, but you can do it, and you can do it well. It’s a learning process for all of us, as we continue to understand our disease and learn how to handle it. With every step and every fall, we become stronger. This disease still teaches me so much.
I love that the teens in this video are able to verbalize their feelings about their condition so well and that they have so much support from one other. This is a great video to share with friends and family to help them understand that arthritis isn’t just for old persons.
The best part of the video was when one of the young ladies said, “We’re all still just kids.” No matter how much pain we’re in, we must all still try to enjoy life and everything it has to offer. We might be spending a good portion of time in hospitals, taking pills, getting injections, infusions, doing physical therapy and feeling like we are indeed 90 years old….but don’t forget we still have our lives to live, and we all still deserve to have fun.
On that note, I leave you with a song that always picks me up. 😉
All the best,