Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis
All throughout her childhood, there was never a time Kristen wasn’t playing sports. Whether it was through school or on travel teams, she was constantly active with her friends. However, that active lifestyle came to a halt in February of 2012.
At age 15, a sophomore in high school, Kristen went to travel volleyball practice one night and returned home with not one, but two, swollen ankles. Doctors told her that it was a sports related injury, but it wasn’t long before both of her arms had also doubled in size and her regular pediatricians were at a loss. Kristen inevitably quit all sports she was involved in and went four months of living with the pain of arthritis in her hand, wrists, and ankles before even knowing that it was in fact arthritis. After those four months of confusion, anger, sadness, and, above all, frustration, she finally received answers. Kristen was diagnosed with Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis at CS Mott’s Children’s Hospital in Ann Arbor, MI and then her fight truly began.
After almost three and a half years of medications and life changes, Kristen was lucky enough to have been told that she was in remission. During those years, she returned to sports and other hobbies she didn’t think would be possible living with JA. Today, she has been in remission for almost four years, but that does not mean her fight is over. Although her personal battle has ended, she will continue to fight for and with her fellow Arthritis Warriors to raise funds and awareness towards finding a cure and conquering this disease once and for all!
Tanner and Tolan Schiefla
Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis
Team Dynamite is made up of two boys Tanner, age 14, and Tolan, age 6, both boys have juvenile idiopathic arthritis - enthesitis related.
Tanner started experiencing pain when he was only three years old. At first his parents thought it was sympathy pains since his great-grandma had just had knee replacement surgery. But as time went on Tanner would say this hurt or that hurt, here or there, with mainly having pains in his legs which was thought to be growing pains. In May of 2012, Tanner woke up screaming for his parents, when they got to his bedroom he was laying on the floor and was unable to get. Nothing like this had ever happened before so he was rushed to the local Children’s Hospital where he was told his muscle enzymes were elevated; his body was attacking itself instead of a virus. Tanner was given fluids, pain medication and then sent home and told he should get better over the next few days to weeks. The doctors said it was more than likely a one-time thing. Fast forward to December 2012 and history repeated itself. This time it happened the night before his 10th birthday and he was admitted for overnight observation. Tanner’s parents began researching anything and everything and the best solution they could find is that Tanner needed to see a rheumatologist. He had his first rheumatologist visit in February of 2013 and 13 months later after several tests Tanner was diagnosed with Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis. A couple weeks later Tanner and his family attended an event hosted by the Arthritis Foundation where they met other families like theirs and for the first time, they knew they were not alone in this battle. Since 2014, Tanner has mainly been homeschooled because the medication he is on lowers his immune system and he becomes sick very easily. He takes several medications every day to help manage his arthritis, but he still lives with pain every day. Tanner and his parents hope with new medications one day he will be pain free!
Tolan started to show signs of arthritis when he was 2 ½ and his parents began to watch him as he grew. It was not until the end of 2015 when they were at an appointment for Tanner that the rheumatologist looked at Tolan as said he needed to officially see him as a patient. In January 2016, Tolan was diagnosed with Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis just like his brother. At this point in time Tolan only takes a couple medications to control his arthritis, which seems to work because he only mentions his pain from time to time.
Both boys enjoy working with their medical teams and learning more about Juvenile Arthritis and ways they can advocate and teach the world that “Kids Get Arthritis Too” Please join the 2019 Grand Raids Walk to Cure Arthritis as we walk to raise funds for build awareness and find a cure!