Sunday, December 20, 2009

Hoping for Better News in 2010 . . . .

. . . because appointments to the ophthalmologist these past several months (since August, I believe) have not been encouraging. (The one bright spot about the frequency of those visits, though, is that the ophthalmologist hired a new receptionist and she is so sweet and personable, and treats us like family instead of some of the former receptionists who acted as if we were strangers every time we went--even when we were going every two weeks!)

ANYway . . . back to the report. Anna's eyes still are no better. In fact, the left eye is worse than it was a month ago. Last month, it had 1+ inflammation (on a scale of 0-4), and this month, the level of inflammation is at 2+. The right eye continues to have a trace--after being totally clear for many months before stopping two immune suppressant medications and starting on the biologic, Humira. [Sigh]

So what do we do now? We're increasing the frequency of the Humira injections. I'll give it every ten days instead of every two weeks. (I had just put the next sticker on the calendar, so I'll have to change that.) We get her eyes checked in three weeks.

As for the TMJs---we don't know how successful the cortisone injections were, and we won't truly know without an MRI. The plan is to have an MRI done in about six months, and if there is still evidence (or evidence once again) of active disease, we would have the injections done again.

Merry Christmas to all! I can say that in all sincerity, despite all the issues of life we face. A favorite songwriter, Steven Curtis Chapman, has a Christmas song that talks about "Our God is With Us--Immanuel . . . and we will never face life alone, now that God has made Himself known as Father and friend, with us to the end, Immanuel" (Makes me want to listen to that again, soon!) I truly believe that, and I believe that ALL things work together for good to those who love Him . . ."

Saturday, December 12, 2009

In Anna's Words . . . . to family and friends . . .

Yesterday Anna had bilateral injections (cortisone) to both TMJs. I know that so many people were praying for and thinking of Anna yesterday, and I know those thoughts and prayers helped Anna to be so calm all afternoon, even when the Hospital Admissions people weren't exactly sure where to send us, and even though we got lost on the second floor corridor of the medical center and none of the very nice people we encountered really knew where we were supposed to go (even though we had a map with our destination circled). And then the patient transport person initially couldn't find us to take us down to the ground floor . . . (Anna got to see almost all of a Hallmark Christmas movie on television while we were waiting--cute little tv's in the Pre-Op rooms.) All's well that ends well.

Once we finally returned home, Anna wanted to send out an e-mail to the family members and friends I correspond with on a weekly basis. When I read her e-mail, I thought that many of you might like to hear from Anna, as well:

Hello all,
I thank you all for your prayers and thoughts. I'm fine right now. Nothing went wrong. I feel normal and full of energy. Mom made spaghetti for dinner and that really helped!!! I was really hungry during and afterwards. The docs. and nurses were very nice and great. Though my mouth will be sore for a day or two. And I have to be careful about what i eat. Thank you one and all very much again for your love and support.

---Anna Zeigler

Sunday, December 06, 2009

New Developments Since My Last Post

The past six weeks, besides being super busy, have also brought many new developments with Anna. She had an MRI on October 30th, to see if she may have arthritis in her jaw joints. The results came back, indicating past disease on the left and definite active disease on the right. We had a choice between waiting for a bit to see if the addition of Humira would take care of the active disease or scheduling an injection in the right jaw joint, where the active arthritis is present. We have doctor's appointments (both ophthalmologist and rheumatologist) scheduled on December 18th, so we decided to wait until then to make a decision about the injection. However, since that time, Anna started telling me about different things going on with her jaw. There is no pain for her, but her jaw has been doing some "weird" things according to Anna. Like, when she chews, it shifts to the side sometimes. So after a few e-mails back and forth between the rheumatologist and his staff, they worked to get a jaw injection scheduled sooner rather than later. I will call the radiologist's office tomorrow morning to confirm an appointment on Friday (December 11th) for an injection.

There's too much going on in life to really sit down and figure out how I feel about all of this. For right now, I feel "in my bones" that this is what needs to be done, and there are many times in life where you do what needs to be done regardless of your feelings about it all. I do, however, feel that in some small way, the jaw involvement is a confirmation of the "Humira step" being the right direction (I really did second guess that decision for at least a week!). The results of the MRI mean that the Methotrexate and Cyclosporine (and then Cellcept) were not enough to control the inflammation in Anna's body.

But now I need feedback from those who have experience with the jaw injections. Anna will be going on an all-day outing the day following the injection. I will not be there. (She's going to be with the church youth group and my friend--and youth leader--, Nancy.) For those of you who have "been there, done that" with your kids. What should I expect? Soft foods for 24-48 hours? I have absolutely NO experience with cortisone injections. I'm not afraid of them for Anna---just wondering what our expectations should be. I can ask tomorrow when I call to confirm the appointment, but I think the advice and feedback from veteran moms adds a valuable perspective. Thanks in advance for your insight!

(The pictures at the left are from Anna's "Turkey Trot" at the school in November. Her brother, Joel (an experienced long distance runner), came along to cheer on (yell at!--in a good way) all of the runners, and a friend took two pictures of Anna and Joel together.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Reluctant Change . . . .

We've made the switch to Humira. No more daily pills for now. No more weekly Methotrexate shots (and the vomiting that always accompanied those shots). Those "pluses" are what Anna is focused on, so she's happy. After two months on Cellcept, the inflammation in Anna's left eye had not changed. In fact, the ophthalmologist explained that even though the inflammation wasn't terrible that day of our appointment, there were cells sticking/clumping together in the front of the chamber of her eye, which indicated that the inflammation is ongoing and fluctuating. Left with very few options, we've gone to Humira.

Although I read the warnings about Humira occasionally to familiarize myself with the side effects and possible complications, they can be rather scary, so I choose not to dwell on them. Even though I'd been told by many people (and read on the internet by writers whom themselves take Humira) that the shot burns going in, Anna didn't seem to mind so much. Lidocaine had been prescribed, which we used to fill up the extra space in the pre-filled syringe (and then mixed it in with the Humira). I coached Anna on "Lamaze breathing," just in case she found the shot to be painful. But afterward, she told me that the shot just felt like "Dad getting a splinter out."

I know that so many people were praying for us--thank you!!! I felt your prayers! I had to gather up my courage, give myself some pep talks, and sing a few songs to myself to psych me up in order to give her this shot. Scott didn't stick close by (as he always did for the Methotrexate shots, to provide a distraction and to hold the bucket), because the Humira needs to be given in her thigh or stomach (Anna chose the thigh), and she's 12 and very much a young lady, so modesty and privacy were a concern for her.

I always have to think through everything. It's taken me well over a week to come to the conclusion that this is okay, and it's what we need to do. I pray constantly for wisdom and direction, and this must be the direction for now. I would have loved for Anna's eye to clear up, for other, less scary options to be available, but that wasn't the case. We go for an MRI on Friday to see if Anna has jaw involvement, and that's okay, too. This (life, and Juvenile Arthritis, etc.) is a journey, and we were never promised a smooth ride---but God promises strength and grace and peace to deal with the hard parts of the journey when we lay it all at the feet of Jesus. We are so blessed to live in the era in which we live, when so many medical advances are available to us. We as a family are very blessed to live so close (relatively speaking) to excellent medical professionals and facilities. So even though our trips to Hershey are many (in the past three months, anyway), at least we live only 20 miles away and not hours away. There is much to be thankful for. We don't know what the future will bring (how long Anna will be on this, etc.), but we can trust God with our future. I know that without reservation.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Untitled Update on Anna's Eyes . . . .

Well, I have multiple titles I could use for this update. As I was driving home from Anna's appointment in Hershey this afternoon, I was thinking of everything I could use for the title . . .

"Cellcept Isn't Working"
"Appointments Every Two Weeks are Getting Really Old" (and tiring, . . . we're weary of traveling to Hershey so often!)
"May be Switching to Humira" (in the near future, not right away)
"It Was the Best of Times and the Worst of Times" (these words are probably copyrighted, and really way too dramatic for the situation, but it stinks to get bad news on the birthday of your oldest child)

Those titles just about sum everything up. There is no change in Anna's left eye, even after increasing Cellcept for the past two weeks (from 1,000 mg daily to 1,500 mg. daily). (How can that be?! Except that it must not be working for her.) Another phone conference between the pediatric ophthalmologist and the pediatric rheumatologist, and the conclusion is that we continue with the increased Cellcept dose (plus the Methotrexate, Leucovorin, and Pepcid Complete that she's been taking all along) for two more weeks, then we meet with both doctors (separately--the ped. ophthalm. first, then the ped. rheum. an hour and a half later.) (Maybe we'll have time for lunch in between, but Anna is going to miss all but one and a half hours of school that day). Humira is now "on the table" as the next step.

A comedian is going to be at our local college (my alma mater) that evening (October 16) for Homecoming events, and my son wants to go. I told him we probably should (he and I--Anna doesn't want to, and my husband just wants to come home after working there and overseeing the event setups all day). I think I may need a good laugh at the end of that day.

My words from my last update are a reminder to me---it is what it is, and we do what we have to do. I'm to the point (took a few years to get here) that I can just hear the "plan," file it in my mental filing cabinet to mull over every now and then, and put it aside to focus on life in the meantime. No use worrying about tomorrow and what might be, but focus on the gift of today. Still praying fervently for a miracle of some sort, and for the possibility that we don't need to go down another road of yet another medication with its many pros and cons. Ultimately, as I've said before, my children belong to Jesus before they belong to me. I trust God completely, knowing that with every storm of life, He's our anchor.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Continuing to "Tweak" the medication dose . . . .

We had our second eye appointment since I last posted. (Every two weeks lately--[sigh]--it is what it is, and we do what we have to do) Anna's right eye continues to look "great." Her left eye is another story. Two weeks ago, the inflammation has lessened just a little. Instead of increasing the Cellcept at that point, we "tweaked" it a little. I had read (at, or something like that) about Cellcept needing to be taken on an empty stomach. Up until two weeks ago, we hadn't been doing that. But the ophthalmologist suggested we try taking it "by the book" before we try increasing the dose. So we've been very careful these past two weeks. Anna gets up a little earlier, takes her Cellcept, then waits to eat breakfast. Then she makes sure that she stops eating by 7:00 p.m., so that at 9:00 p.m., she can take her other pill.

But that did not help. No change. So we add another pill (500 mg. of Cellcept). And we go back again in two weeks.

Anna has become an active participant in scheduling the next appointment. She hates to miss any school, so she's often hovering at my shoulder and saying, "Can we get a late appointment---maybe 4:00 p.m.?) But since we've been going every two weeks, they've been squeezing us in to an already tight schedule, and sometimes double booking. On the third date and time we were offered, Anna said, "That's PERFECT! I have study hall that afternoon, so I won't miss much!" (I'm really glad she loves school so much!)

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Time for a Change . . . . .

Anna had another eye appointment today. She's had inflammation in the left eye for about two months now (at least). Four weeks ago, it was determined that we could give the increased dose of Methotrexate a chance to work. Today, there is still moderate inflammation. Another telephone mini conference between the doctors, and now we will switch to Cellcept (replacing her Cyclosporine with Cellcept, but continuing the Methotrexate). There are many reasons for this decision, and for those who want/need more details (if you are traveling a similar journey, etc.), let me know, or ask me some specific questions, and I'll fill you in. To all of my Facebook friends who have been so supportive in your thoughts, prayers, and written encouragements, I thank you from the bottom of my heart (and I apologize that it took me about a month to give you an update). (For blogger people, this blog is sent to Facebook, and most conversations with other JA moms/friends take place there).

Life continues to be crazy and busy. Our oldest daughter moved to her college campus in June (it's local, so we still see her frequently, but she is having a great time--working there for the summer--and eagerly anticipating her freshman year of college, majoring in broadcasting). In the past month, we've attended two weddings and three funerals. Our son had a bad encounter with poison when he was earning money by weeding for a friend. He is now on Prednisone (had to increase that dose). I'm getting to know our area pharmacists very well! (And we've had a few too many trips to doctors' offices this summer for my liking.)

We've been able to get Methotrexate, although not in the tiny little vials. I just picked up Anna's Methotrexate today, and they substituted huge vials (the small vials are on backorder). I think we have enough to last for three months! They gave me a handwritten note which said I should use the vials once and then throw it out, but I spoke with Anna's doctor, and he said that we can use it for more than one dose as long as we refrigerate it (we always do) and check it to make sure it's not cloudy.

I've been burning the candle at both ends lately and really just need a good night's sleep or a good long nap. But I have a long mental "to do" and "must do" list for tomorrow. :o)

Friday, July 03, 2009

Not a good appointment . . . all the way around . . .

Thursday afternoon was a very long one! Anna had an appointment with the ophthalmologist, and I knew when we made the appointment (four weeks ago)that they were squeezing her into an already full and tight schedule. The appointment was for 4:20 p.m. This week was our church's Vacation Bible School, and Anna was the "craft coordinator (she's only 11, but she's mature for her age, my friend (the VBS coordinator) asked if Anna would do this, and Anna didn't hesitate to say "YES!," and took this responsibility VERY seriously. So Anna needed to be at the church at 6:00 p.m. to be in position as the "craft lady." Although I knew the afternoon would be busy, I thought, "No problem! I'm sure they'll be finished with us by 5:00 p.m., and that gives us plenty of time to get home (20 miles away, on the other side of a capitol city).

Well, we were still in the waiting room after 5:00 p.m., chatting with a friendly mom with an adorable 2-year-old boy. Anna said, "Mom, I'm a little worried." So I called my son (who was hosting an "open house" of sorts in the backyard for his (self-imposed) summer project of building an outdoor roller coaster. I explained the situation and asked him to talk to my husband when he arrived home from work, to ask if he could cover for Anna at Vacation Bible School until we could get her there.

We finally got into the exam room by 5:20, went through the preliminaries with the assistant (and I mentioned to her that Anna was supposed to be back in our hometown by 6:00 p.m., because she had some responsibilities, although I also mentioned that I'm sure the doctor and office staff really wanted to be done and get home to their families, as well). She tested Anna's vision, and then we waited for the doctor. Anna was trying to read a book, but after a few minutes, she said, "Mom, I can't read!" She was upset and worried as the time kept ticking away, knowing that she really wanted to leave and get back home--and knowing that it was going to take at least 1/2 hour, and rush hour/holiday traffic was just starting. She was crying, so I handed her a tissue and wondered if tear-filled, puffy eyes make much difference for an eye exam. I called home again, and by this time my husband was home. He assured us that he would go to the church and get things started, and I told him we would be there as soon as possible (even though Anna would miss a chance at eating supper---I told her I could drop her off, go through a drive-thru fast food place, and bring some supper to the church).

When the doctor came in, he apologized profusely and said that we would make this quick, especially if there was no inflammation. Well, when he turned the lights out and looked into Anna's eyes, he slowed down and was taking a long, careful time examining her eyes. At that point, I figured that it probably wasn't good. Then I knew for sure it wasn't good when he decided to see if he could connect with the pediatric rheumatologist (via phone) at the medical center. At least that call/page went through fairly quickly. Since we have an appointment with the pediatric rheumatologist on Tuesday, we'll discuss options, for what the ophthalmologist describes as "unacceptable" inflammation in the left eye, after increasing the Cyclosporine four weeks ago. The ophthalmologist asked if we had ever tried or discussed options like Remicade or Humira, so I know that those options may be "on the table" eventually.

As the two doctors were talking on the phone, we suddenly heard a noise in the building. I was thinking maybe it was the air conditioner or something, but the eye doctor looked at me, pointed to the ceiling and said, "Rain!" At the time, I was thinking about the appointment, thinking that Anna needed to be back home in about 20 minutes, knowing it would take us longer than that, knowing that traffic would be bad, and now it was pouring down rain (I hate to drive in torrential downpours, and for safety reasons, I always go more slowly in such conditions.) I was thinking, "This is NOT a good afternoon!."

Well, the doctor provided us with garbage bags to protect our heads and our books (it was sunny when we drove over and entered the building, so we didn't even think to bring umbrellas), and he let us out the back door, which was closer to the parking lot. At least we were traveling west . . . the storm was traveling east, and there was a little break in the action by the time we headed out of Hershey. We took the turnpike, avoiding some of the congestion and able to travel at 65 mph. I was able to get Anna to the church by 6:20 (as she exited the van, she kissed my cheek and said, "Thanks, Mom!") She had been on the phone with her dad as we traveled, telling him where to find certain materials and whom to check with for certain information.

I would say that "All's well that ends well," except that it hasn't all ended yet. VBS has ended, and Anna did a fine job with coordinating the crafts, and she held herself together fairly well for a worried 11-year-old in the middle of a crisis of responsibility vs. circumstances beyond our control. I need to take Anna for a blood test on Monday, and then we have a LONG morning on Tuesday (dentist appointment at 7:30 a.m. for Anna, then the appointment at Hershey Med. with a discussion about what to do regarding unacceptable inflammation, then a drive down the road--about an hour--for private bassoon lessons for Anna).

So this long tale is mainly about the stressful afternoon. Many of you who know me well may know that I have a whole lot of thoughts about these circumstances and where we go from here. Anna is on a fairly high dose of Methotrexate already (thanks to Jill, I was able to get some at Rite Aid this week), and I already see subtle side effects of the Cyclosporine since we increased it four weeks ago (not bad, per se, but little things like more distinguishable hair above her lip, etc.). My gut reaction is to wish to be a little childish and stomp my foot and say, "But I don't LIKE any of the options." (I don't like the idea of increasing anything, and I don't like the options of the biologics.) I can't do that either, since I'm an adult, and I know something will need to be done, whether we like it or not.

So in many ways, I think it's probably good that we had something (the VBS issue) to distract us from the eye issues, and I'm glad that I have a few days to adjust to the fact that we need to change something. I took a long walk around our little town while Anna was at VBS on Thursday. That helped. I know that Anna belongs to Jesus before she belongs to us. I know that nothing surprises Him, and that I can trust her to Him. I'm glad that it's okay for us to mentally and emotionally struggle with issues such as these before we get to the point of acceptance. And I'm glad for an Anchor for the soul, that keeps me sane and grounded when life gets a little uncertain.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Long Overdue Update

Sometimes in life, you can go through a period of about four weeks, where all that has happened in life circumstances makes it seem like a year has passed at least! Our life has been a whirlwind during the month of May and the first two weeks of June. Anna had an eye appointment several weeks ago, but only now is life settling down enough to update my faithful blog followers (I know there are at least a few---thank you! And sorry for not updating lately!).

At Anna's last eye appointment, she had developed mid-to-moderate inflammation in her left eye. So the Cyclosporine dose has been increased by 25 mg. (She was taking 75 mg., but we're back up to 100 mg. daily). At the time, I had so many other things looming (graduation of my oldest, and various related activities and events, plus we were leaving for vacation the morning after graduation, plus I had extra work at my job since I was getting ready for a week's worth of vacation). Because my mind was on so many other things, I didn't have a whole lot of time to really think about this development or worry about it. Anna has been on higher doses of Cyclosporine (not that we liked that . . . some side effects started creeping in), so I was thinking, "It could be worse . . . 100 mg. isn't so bad." We go back next week for another eye exam.

Another issue that has arisen is a nationwide shortage of Methotrexate (injectible). I need to call another pharmacy within the next few days to see if I can find any. I haven't really had time to worry about this, either. (There are advantages to having a hectic life!)

In the meantime, we're adjusting to life . . . adjusting to my oldest moving onto the college campus (her summer job there includes room and board . . . it's easy to be excited about that, since Abby is excited, but it's still an adjustment), adjusting to a summer schedule, adjusting to summer weather, etc. And Anna is eleven going on twelve. Not so much a little girl anymore, but in that in-between stage. Growing up, with all the adjustments that come along with that. We're doing okay, though!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

An Update on Anna's Eyes . . . Not Bad . . . . .

It's been awhile since my last update. Anna saw the ophthalmologist last Friday. This was the first visit since we decreased the Cyclosporine by 25 mg. in January. We were hoping that her eyes might have remained quiet of any inflammation, with the hopes of decreasing the Cyclosporine yet again. That will not happen at this point. The doctor saw maybe one cell in each eye, so he categorizes both eyes as having "zero-to-a-trace" of inflammation. I didn't even broach the subject of decreasing the med at this point. (I'm so happy that the inflammation didn't go wild with the decrease of cylcosporine, but I'd rather be cautious than to try another decrease when there's any evidence at all of uveitis.) All in all, it was not a bad appointment.

Anna had a few viruses over the winter months, but thankfully, they were short-lived, and the symptoms were such that I was able to figure out that they were indeed viruses and not related to arthritis or to medications.

Anna is finishing up her last year in elementary school, and eagerly anticipating the move to middle school! It helps to have two older siblings who have such good things to say about their own experiences in middle school and high school. :o)

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Just a little update . . . .

We've lowered the Cyclosporine dose to 75 mg., but won't know what effect (if any) that will have with Anna's eyes. We have appointments with both specialists in March (different days/weeks). In the meantime, we've been living life and having fun, although everyone in the family has had some sort of virus (each a different type) in the early part of January. Anna's virus affected her stomach (heard later on the local news that people were flocking to the ER with Anna's symptoms, although we didn't . . . just rode them out---she had rather severe stomach cramps---among other things---with her virus). Anyway, the only reason I mention that is because we let her skip the Cyclosporine and even a weekly dose of Methotrexate. I really need to write that down, because the ophthalmologist likes to know every detail (when?, why?, how much?, how long?) if we skipped a dose or two. In the past, a skipped dose or two (while recovering from a virus) has not had any affect. We'll pray it doesn't this time, as well.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Good News for a New Year!

Anna had another appointment with the pediatric ophthalmologist today. After using the slit lamp machine to carefully look into the depths of Anna's eyes, the doctor said, "Happy New Year! She looks GREAT!" They are both totally clear of inflammation! At first, the doctor was planning to maintain Anna's current level of medications (and have us return in ten weeks), but I asked him how long her eyes would need to look "great" before we could begin lowering some medications. The pediatric rheumatologist (at our visit with him in December) was hoping to start a very careful decrease if Anna's eyes were continuing to look good. The ophthalmologist had a letter from the rheumatologist to that effect (it was, in fact, at the top of Anna's file). So the ophthalmologist agreed that we could try lowering the cyclosporine to 75 miligrams daily (down from 100 mg.). Anna was in back of the ophthalmologist (sitting in the exam chair) grinning broadly at this decision and giving a silent "YES!" There have been times in the past where I have worried over decreases in medication, but I'm not thinking about what might go wrong at this point (a few years ago, a decrease in Methotrexate caused significant flares in the eyes and a slight flare in her joints). I'm just really happy for right now. :o)

As Anna was sitting in that exam chair today, I was thinking how grown up she's been looking lately. Hardly a little girl any more, but a young lady. Time just doesn't stop.

In other news, our freezer died. I think it's been on a slow road to death for awhile (it's been "kind of" working but not working/freezing well. Scott knew for sure that there was a major problem when he went to get ice cream out of the freezer last night, and it was more like a very thick milkshake.

I whispered a little prayer this morning, "Lord, please order my day." And boy! Did my day keep me busy and moving! (I told Anna later that when I whisper a prayer like that, then I figure that any interruptions or surprises during the day are just the way things are meant to be and happen, so I don't get bent out of shape about them.) After tackling a mountain of work (I had been on vacation since December 24th), I arrived home with about 20 minutes to spare before Anna arrived home from school and we headed to Hershey for her appointment. Then when we arrived home again, Abby and Joel informed me that Scott had called them to give them instructions about getting the ice cream out of that freezer (we ate some and gave some away to neighbors), and to let me know that we should probably go shopping for a freezer tonight.

So everyone grabbed something to eat for supper (besides the soft ice cream---mostly omelets and/or scrambled eggs), then I took Anna to youth group and the neighbor kids to our church's Bible School program while Scott and Abby and Joel unloaded all of the food in the freezer into boxes. The boxes of food went to the church, which had an empty freezer which we were told we could use. In my little amount of time at home before playing "taxi," I searched for freezers online at Home Depot, Lowes, and Sears---found what we wanted (the only chest freezer with an energy star rating), and called Lowes to find out why the website said that none of the stores in a 20-mile radius had that model available. Bottom line . . . we printed out the model and price from the website---they had almost the same freezer in the store, and he gave it to us for the on-line price ($30 cheaper than the store model). They had some in the warehouse, and it fit just perfectly in the van. So now we have a new freezer, and we arrived home just in time for me to hop in the car and pick up the neighbor kids and Anna. Now I'm ready to sit and chill a bit. I'm so glad tomorrow's my day off!

(The picture above is from Thanksgiving . . . Joel was trying to get a great picture of the capitol building in Harrisburg from Riverfront Park.) :o)

Supporting the Arthritis Foundation -- The Jingle Bell Run

Back in December, Anna's dad (my husband, Scott) and her brother Joel participated in the annual Jingle Bell Run in Harrisburg, which supports the Arthritis Foundation. This was Scott's first 5K running event! We were so proud of him! Joel has been participating in this event for quite a few years---back when the crowd of runners wasn't really a crowd, and he could easily figure out if he would place in the finish for his age group. We're very glad for the Arthritis Foundation that this event in our area continues to grow. This year, they raised over $27,000 for that run. Our busy schedules (three kids and many responsibilities keep us hopping) have caused us to prioritize many of our activities, and for the Arthritis Foundation, this is the one event we've focused on lately.