JBR Honoree Katie Maxwell
Once bedridden by arthritis, this 13-year-old warrior is bouncing back and raring to go.
Please join 13-year-old Katie by registering today in the Arthritis Foundation’s Michigan virtual run! https://bit.ly/3bmp3aH
Here’s her story.
Two years ago, I was a very active athlete, playing basketball, volleyball and running track. Then everything changed in March 2019 when I was diagnosed with seropositive polyarticular arthritis at the age of 12.
It all started when I began getting unexplained pain and swelling. First came foot pain during my basketball season in late 2018, followed by finger swelling and then shoulder pain. By mid-March, the pain and swelling had spread throughout my body and I could no longer get out of bed.
Fortunately, my pediatrician identified this as potential juvenile idiopathic arthritis and referred me to the University of Michigan’s pediatric rheumatology department. Since then, I have worked through a series of trial-and-error medications to try and bring the inflammation under control. Each time I tried a new one, I hoped it would finally be the one. This past summer, with a combination of traditional and functional medicines, along with physical therapy, occupational therapy and hand therapy, I finally turned a corner.
There were a lot of tough days along the way, both physically and emotionally. I remember my mom sitting next to me in bed promising me it would get better. She told me she didn’t know when, but that it would get better. The scariest part was that I didn’t know if it would ever go away.
By sharing my story, I hope other kids will know that things can improve. It is not always easy, but there are better days ahead. Recently, I went running for the first time since my diagnoses. I didn’t get very far, but it felt really good to finally do something like that again.
It’s been a long and challenging road, and while it will be a lifelong journey, I am starting to get back to doing the things I love. My goal is to join the high school ski team this winter and then the track team next spring. I am anxious to get back to competing again and look forward to continued improvements in the future.