While 3-year-old Gia doesn’t really understand her struggle with juvenile arthritis, she knows she gets shots and goes to the doctor a lot. She remembers that she used to limp.
After only a couple of weeks, her symptoms became significantly worse and she was no longer able to walk to the bathroom in the morning. After multiple doctor visits, x-rays, blood panels and lots of tears, she was finally referred to Rady Children's Hospital.
In her first appointment with Dr. Radhakrishna, Gia was immediately diagnosed with polyarticular juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) due to inflammation in more than five of her joints. After another appointment with the ophthalmology department, it was confirmed that Gia also presented with inflammation in her eyes and was diagnosed with uveitis. Due to the surprisingly fast progression of her symptoms, her young age and the decrease in the quality of her life, her doctor recommended that Gia be treated quickly and aggressively.
Gia’s parents were in shock and denial. They did extensive research and decided to be as strong as possible for their daughter. Before Gia was even 3, she began receiving weekly Humira shots and doses of methotrexate to help combat her inflammation. In addition, she was prescribed steroid drops for her eyes to prevent her uveitis from causing blindness.
The journey has not been easy on Gia or her parents. But thankfully, her treatment planned has worked, and she is officially in remission. She is walking, jumping, doing ballet and riding a bike. An outsider would never look at Gia and know that she struggles with JIA. Even Gia still does not understand. She knows that she gets shots. She knows that she needs medications. She knows that she meets with her doctors a lot, and she remembers that she used to limp. But other than that, she is no different than any other preschooler.