Estelle has always been “on the go.” Her grandparents took her to gymnastics meets and she loved them. At 4, she begged to take gymnastics lessons, and she has loved gymnastics ever since.
At 9, Estelle was a level 7 optional gymnast. Mid-season, her right foot became swollen and both feet and hands were often sore. Estelle saw a pediatric orthopedist, and he took X-rays but found no fractures. Estelle was hurting, but she worked hard and made the level 7 state regional team. Over the summer of 2017, Estelle’s right foot became more swollen. The pediatric orthopedist ran an MRI, and her midfoot was full of synovial fluid. He advised us to immobilize the foot in a boot, but the more she stayed off her foot, the more the foot continued to swell. Estelle saw a foot specialist for a second opinion who casted her foot for 12 weeks. After her foot came out of the cast, it remained swollen, and she had lost full range of motion. She could barely walk on the foot and her muscles had atrophied. Estelle did three months of physical therapy with no improvement. Finally, Estelle’s pediatrician ordered labs and called to say that Estelle’s rheumatoid factor was five times above the normal limit.
Estelle waited several months for an appointment with the pediatric rheumatologist. When she finally got in to see him, he diagnosed her with polyarticular JIA. She started oral methotrexate and naproxen, but she began experiencing more swelling in her hands. Estelle saw another rheumatologist in Baton Rouge and he ordered labs, MRIs and bone scans. He determined that she had active arthritis in over 15 joints. Estelle began methotrexate and Humira injections.
Estelle was discouraged and almost quit gymnastics. She met an AF advocate through Flipfest camp and decided to continue her favorite sport. In August 2018, her medications began to work, and she began making progress with range of motion in her foot. Her coaches were encouraging and she was able to start competing in all 4 events for level 8 in January 2019. At her first level 8 meet in Tennessee, she tied for first place out of all age groups on the bars, and she continues to get better each day. Estelle is very honored to be the youth honoree for the Walk to Cure Arthritis Baton Rouge. She hopes she can inspire kids with arthritis to stay very active and not give up on their dreams!