Facing Forward is a series that shares the lives of people living with arthritis and other invisible illnesses. The goal of the series is to see how we are similar and how we are different – and to remind us to keep moving forward because we aren’t alone!
This special edition of Facing Forward shares the stories of the individuals involved in the Arthritis Foundation’s 15th Annual California Coast Classic – a 525 mile bike ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles.
Name: Mia (Team Sluggy)
Hometown: Boulder Creek, CA
Diagnosis: enthesitis-related juvenile arthritis
Age at Diagnosis: 6
Current Age: 12
How is your family involved with the California Coast Classic?
My parents have ridden the CCC to support me and other kids with arthritis for the last three years. They weren’t able to ride this year, but my mom still volunteere to help.
How are you currently treating your condition?
My arthritis is treated by Humira the injection and methotrexate pills. I do also use ibuprofen when I am in pain.
What are the biggest challenges you have faced since your diagnosis?
The biggest challenges I have faced since my diagnosis are the pain and not being able to participate in some activities. It makes me very sad when my friends are out running when I can’t. Another thing that was also hard was the cortisone shots I used to have to get when I was younger. I would be wheeled out of the hospital in a wheelchair crying because it hurt so bad.
What are your favorite tips and tricks for managing everyday tasks?
My favorite tips are to stop when I need to, because I tend to try and ignore my pain because I don’t want to tell anyone. I also enjoy tips from my friends with arthritis, like what helps take away the sting of the shot. I manage everyday tasks by resting when I need to and taking medicine when I need to. It also helps to have support from my friends.
If you could go back to diagnosis day and tell your past self one thing, what would it be?
If I could go back to diagnosis day and tell myself one thing, it would be that it will all turn out OK. That I am doing better and that I shouldn’t worry about not being able to walk because I can do that. I am currently on the school basketball team and I enjoy it very much. Sometimes I am sore and it is hard, but I work through it and it is so fun to play! Today my ankle was swollen and sore, but it got better and I still played. I encourage kids with arthritis to join team sports. They are fun and great exercise. Swimming is great for arthritis and it is cool during these hot days.