Psoriatic Arthritis in Children
As a person who has had this disease forever, I am privileged to meet plenty of people on this journey. I recently met a young lady whose child has psoriatic arthritis. I didn’t start getting symptoms for this disease until I was 25 years old.
When children have psoriasis, they may also get psoriatic arthritis, usually known as juvenile idiopathic arthritis. The children are affected the same as adults. They have painful joints, swelling, fatigue, pitted nails, and difficulty with walking. Psoriatic arthritis does more than hurt, it can damage your joints. Can you imagine a child not being able to go to school because their pain is so bad? This happens every day with so many kids with this disease. Unfortunately, many young children are hospitalized each year with problems related to psoriatic arthritis.
There are many treatments out there such as steroidal medications, injections, biologics, and anti-inflammatory medications. This touches home with me because I was that sick child with psoriasis from the age of five, and I recall missing a lot of time from school. This affected me as a young girl because I really loved school and I would always worry about missing homework assignments. I also missed my teachers and friends when I wasn't in school. I know not everyone likes school, but I did. It was probably because I had to miss so much of it. I think about these young children and my heart truly goes out to them.
Holding it in
As a child, I kept silent with my illness. I didn't verbally express my sadness, pain, and frustration. People didn't understand what I was going through. I know there were many days that I wanted to desperately to be able to sit in a classroom and be a normal kid. However, it wasn't possible because everyone looked at me as being different... and I was.
When a child has psoriatic arthritis there will be much on going on as far as treatments. There are those trips to the hospital and the doctor's office. I know as a child with psoriasis, I was always at the doctor’s office. Some weeks I would be in an office three times a week. I can recall long, tiring trips to treatment facilities, the smelly creams, blood that was drawn. I would be very tired because this process would take hours. It's one thing as a child to have juvenile idiopathic arthritis, but it's completely another to be brave enough to weather the storm. I know it's much more difficult for a child to deal with an illness than an adult - at least for me it was.
Psoriatic arthritis can change from day to day, so I know for those children who are not able to go outside and play, go to school, have fun or just be a normal child that it is very hard.
Let's show compassion
As a mother, I know the challenges that moms deal with daily. We know that medications don’t always bring any relief, or the trial and error of finding the right combinations of treatments doesn’t work. We know swelling increases the pain and our sleep is interrupted throughout the night. We know people sometimes don’t get it. I’ve experienced all of these things. No, it's not easy to be a child with a chronic disease. Let us show compassion and feel what they are feeling.
Parents, find a good doctor who understands. Our children need all the support that they can get. My heart goes out to each child living with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis. My experiences have always made me so sensitive to children. If you haven’t experienced childhood sickness, you would never understand the loneliness, isolation, fear, and anger that a disease can bring.
I do understand and will always know that showing compassion and love is a great place to start. These children are our future.
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