Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Better Than I Anticipated . . . .

At Anna's eye appointment today, I wasn't really sure what to expect, so I prepared myself for a huge flare of the uveitis, since her joints have been flaring. But it wasn't so bad! Both eyes continue to have a trace of inflammation, albeit more than six weeks ago (but still a trace---not "number worthy").

I had to smile today, because we've had ophthalmologist appointments with such frequency in the last year, and many of the ophthalmologist's staff is new within the past year---they've trained on Anna (she's a good patient to train on---she knows the ropes and is always calm). It's been six weeks since we'd been there (and that was lengthy--we'd been going every 2-4 weeks). We walked in the office, and they said, "Anna's here! It's been awhile, and we were wondering when you'd be in again!"

Took her for a blood test today, as well. I talked about the change in labs a few blog posts ago. We continue to be pleased with the change. Anna is maturing, and now takes labs in stride. No Emla cream, no lounge chair, no little group of phlebotomists who treat Anna like family, no lengthy registration process--just in and out at the labs at Hershey Med. For all of you moms who are struggling with your little ones and labs, it DOES get better.

Anna has a bassoon solo tomorrow night in a recital at the middle school. :o) Then on Friday we'll find out the game plan for her flaring knee joint.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Then Again, Maybe Not . . . . .

After a week of "normal" life, the stiffness in the knee returned this morning (no pain, though). I'm wondering if there is any correlation between when she receives the Humira injection. She's due for another Humira injection on Tuesday. Last Friday, when she had stiffness and pain, it was about time for a shot of Humira. I do not have enough experience and/or knowledge to figure that all out. Anna took an Advil this morning. She hasn't been taking them regularly. We'll see what the doctor says on Friday. Just wanted to write it down somewhere to keep track of what's going on.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Back to Normal Life . . . . .

Anna's knees look normal now, and she's already back to living a "normal" 12-year-old life. Was last week's sudden swelling and inflammation a freaky thing or will it become a lingering problem? I can't really say at this point. We have an appointment with the rheumatologist on Friday. If the knee looks like it can and should be injected with steroids, he'll do that at next week's appointment.

As the doctor and I were working out a time for this appointment via e-mail, I would update Anna with options. This past Wednesday was the first option, but Anna had "Career Day" at school yesterday and needed to be mobile (bus rides, field trip, etc.). Then next Thursday was an option, but Anna has a recital that night. When I was telling Anna this, she shrugged and shook her head and said, "We're just too busy . . . " It sounded like she meant, "We're just too busy for any type of appointment or joint injection."---as if this were one of the many social events or school activities that we would need to regretfully decline because other events or activities have higher priority.

By next week, we'll also know how Anna's eyes are doing, since she has an appointment with the ophthalmologist on Wednesday.

That's the update for now . . . . more later.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

How Can This Be?

I have asked myself the above question several times since October--when Anna started on the Humira (in my mind, a very powerful medication) and we saw very little improvement in her eyes. The inflammation in Anna's eyes settled down to a "trace" with the help of the steroid eye drops about two months ago, and that was a relief. But then, within the past month, Anna has been talking about some joint issues, telling me about some stiffness (more than she's used to). Now her knee has flared, with swelling and pain (enough to bring tears). She hasn't had knee swelling or pain since she was a baby. Again, in my mind, I'm thinking, "How can this be?" Not only is she on Humira, but also on Methotrexate. For now, we're adding ibuprofen twice daily. Her list of medications has grown significantly in the past six months--we've been adding medications, not tapering off or taking anything away. Her eyes have always been the main issue; her joints have been pretty well controlled (well, except for that jaw involvement last year).

Even though I like to post updates (I remember searching for real stories of kids with Juvenile Arthritis when Anna was first diagnosed--I know how much that means to many parents of newly diagnosed kids), I find that I often hesitate now to write about it, because I don't want anyone to think I'm whining or complaining about the issues we face. (Written words without facial expressions and vocal inflections can often be interpreted in a way we never intended.) In the past 10+ years of this JA journey, I've learned so much about myself and how I handle all of this, about life and the various trials we all face, about my faith and understanding of our Creator God who loves each of us (more than we'll ever understand) and doesn't cause anything evil, but who knows all (even before we do), sees all and hears us and guides us through, providing us with His strength, granting doctors and caregivers wisdom and knowledge and understanding (I do pray for that specifically!).

So another unwelcome bump in the road for us. Another reminder to myself that I have never wanted Juvenile Arthritis to define who Anna is or who we are as a family. I don't want it to become the main focus of our lives. We've done a much better job at that lately then I did in the early years, I must admit---it just took awhile to adjust and get my "sea legs," as I like to think of it. The waves (new developments) don't throw me off balance like they used to.

The one thing I've definitely learned through this and other family events over the years: It's really better not to know what the future might hold, but to take each day as it comes. So that's what we'll do again. More pills for Anna, but her knee is not nearly as painful these past two mornings as it was on Friday. Life goes on, and our Anchor (our faith in a loving, compassionate God) holds.