20 July 2008

Chronic Disease - Childhood vs Adult

I've always said if my having JRA helps someone recognize their own symptoms (did that for my best friend unfortunately), or if my story and lack of proper treatment causes someone to realize how important being aggressive in treatment is, then I've fulfilled my purpose. I tell people I am the poster child for how NOT to treat JRA. If that means that someone gets aggressive in treating their RA or if it means a parent can put aside the natural fears of toxic meds, then great. Basically it just means that what I've been through and shared might stop another person from going through it.

I've also always said that if JRA has to happen to a kid, having a parent with RA is a huge help. Been there, done that. Well, Mom wasn't dx'ed with RA at the time but did have polymyositis, which is one of the 100+ types of "arthritis". So, I fit too many categories. Person with JRA/RA, child of parent with a form of arthritis (now multiple forms) and parent to a child who hurts.

Now all of that said, as much as I hate seeing ANY child in pain, especially my own; I fully believe that it is SO much easier to have JRA hit as a child than it is for TA to hit an adult. I know that all the secondary stuff that has hit or become a major problem in adulthood has been so hard to deal with from a mental/emotional standpoint. And that is even with good coping skills I've learned over the years. Kids on the other hand are constantly learning, adapting and changing. Adapting to JRA is just one more thing. And sadly, the younger a child is diagnosed (which is hard on anyone close to the child) it does make it easier to accept. I was 7. Had I been older, it would have been harder. But for me, it's just a normal part of life. Is that fair? Nah, but life is not fair. Do I wish JRA on any child? Nope, but again the younger you are, the easier to adapt. Do a lot of people, especially parents, not like me stating things like this? Probably. But this is just how I feel about the situation...having had both a childhood and adult dx'es. I know which ones have been easier to adjust to.

As a kid, it's natural to learn new coping skills. For adults, it's a bit harder to change how we've done things most of our lives. It becomes second nature to adapt for a kid. Is it easy to deal with peers? Not always. Did the teasing of my peers damage me for life? No. It's a bit easier than accepting how adults can hassle those of us with RA. A kid with a chronic disease isn't normally disbelieved by adults, isn't told "you just need to ____" or many of the things we hear. Kids are just usually pitied by adults. Adults with RA on the other hand, tend to face other adults not believing them. Giving them unfounded "advice", telling us of "cures", saying things like "get more exercise" etc. All of the things that are annoying, hurtful or potentially dangerous to us.

Like I said, this is just how I feel. Many others don't agree. And that is their right. This is a copy of a post I made on 4RATalk in regards to having a childhood chronic disease (in my case JRA) versus getting one as an adult.

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