Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis
Mackenzie’s parents noticed her right wrist was red and swollen, they immediately took her to see her pediatrician. The initial thoughts were Lyme disease, a sprained wrist, or a cyst before the doctors tested her for Arthritis as a last resort. Her parents were shocked when they heard their three-year-old was diagnosed with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis. Mackenzie saw a rheumatologist in Maine who recommended she also see a pediatric rheumatologist in Boston. She remembers running the hallways of Boston Children’s Hospital. She continued treatment both in Maine and in Boston for a while. As she got older, she was finally able to skip the hour-long car ride and see a pediatric rheumatologist when Dr. Fels came to Maine.
Mackenzie has attended the Arthritis Conferences, Advocacy Summits, Jingle Bell Runs and Arthritis Walks to raise awareness for juvenile arthritis, which has helped her explain her illness to friends and classmates. She is so thankful to be a returning camper at Camp Dartmouth-Hitchcock, a summer camp in Vermont for kids with arthritis. She has met some amazing people who share the same experiences as her.
She has taken many different medications throughout her diagnosis and suffered through flares and newly affected joints. Currently, with the proper medication, active life style and healthy diet, she is in remission. There are still many painful days where leaving the couch is not an option, but, she does it with a smile, knowing she is stronger than Arthritis.
Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis
At the age of 3, Taryn Johnson developed pain and swelling in her left ankle. Despite numerous diagnostic efforts throughout her childhood, including a surgery, her ankle dysfunction remained a mystery for seven years. During this time, she had a difficult time walking and running, which made it difficult to play sports with friends. At age ten, she was finally referred to Dr. Power, a rheumatologist in her hometown of Tucson, Arizona. Although Dr. Power was an adult rheumatologist, she was the only specialist in the state also qualified to see pediatric patients. Taryn was finally diagnosed with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis and placed on medications, which gave her a fresh start by reducing her symptoms. She learned how to run and quickly fell in love with soccer and track. Though her disease progressed and affected several other joints as she grew older, she continued to play sports, and was eventually part of the Northern Arizona University triathlon team. She still remains active today through crossfit and soccer, as this helps reduce the severity of her flares.
Upon her diagnosis, Taryn and her parents learned about Camp Cruz -- a summer camp through the arthritis foundation for kids with rheumatic disorders. Attending this camp was a life-changing experience. She made lifelong friends and found herself returning every year, eventually as a counselor, and finally a youth transition specialist. Through camp, she found her passion in working with kids. This inspired her to attend medical school with the goal of becoming a pediatric rheumatologist. She is fortunate to receive her medical education at the University of New England College of Osteopathic Medicine as a third year student. Taryn is extremely grateful for the support that the Arthritis Foundation provides for both her and the community.