This past weekend, Allison and I attended the Arthritis Conference in St. Louis. The conference was a rousing success with over 1000 attendees, most of whom were families with children. At the conference, Allison and I gave a seminar on how to exist in a relationship when one of the partners is chronically ill. I’m not sure how well the seminar went off (the attendees were younger than we expected, so some of the material may have been a bit too mature), but we did manage to have some fun and get a few laughs from our audience. Now that we are back home, thinking about all the sessions held at the conference, I was proud to see how far we have come since I was diagnosed with J.R.A. back in 1986.
When I first got sick the doctors had no clue where to begin. Because of this, I was tested for everything under the sun from long bone cancer to influenza to Lyme disease. It took almost two years for the diagnosis of Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis to even be suggested, and another six months for the diagnosis to be confirmed. I use the term “confirmed” lightly as I have never tested positive for a rheumatoid factor, and have always presented atypically when it comes to symptoms. Be that as it may, those first two years were valuable days in which I could have been treated correctly. This would have increased the chance of avoiding the joint damage from which I suffer today.