Zoelle's Story: Parent's Letter ProjectPolyarticular juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA)- Zoelle's mom

In October of 2009, my daughter Zoelle developed a swollen knee during our family vacation to Disney. Upon our return home after two weeks of her knee staying swollen with no pain, I took her to the pediatrician.

At that point we started with a two view knee X-ray and some detailed blood work. Then we were sent to a pediatric orthopaedist, had more blood work, and had an MRI of Zoelle's right knee. The MRI gave us no answers. After surgery at our local hospital in Northern Virginia, the removal of tissue and 12cc's of fluid, we still had no definitive answers and the return of the fluid almost instantly. We were referred to Children's National to see a rheumatologist.

On December 10, 2009, my daughter and I met with Claas Hinze, MD. After a very detailed body exam of all joints and speaking with Dr. Hinze, he told me the unexpected answer after more than six weeks of blood work and surgery on my 5-year-old. She had polyarticular juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA).

She would need to start the most common drug for arthritis; methotrexate, an anti-inflammatory drug that, in much higher doses is also a chemo cancer drug. She would need blood work every two months, physical and occupational therapy, thorough eye exams every six months, and visits to Dr. Hinze every two months for checkups or flare-ups.

Polyarticular juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) occurs in children for no apparent reason. Zoelle has had three intraarticular steroid injections and is currently on her second round with methotrexate via a subcutaneous injection that I administer once a week instead of pills.

She has no signs of active arthritis at this time because the medicine and physical therapy are keeping it under control. She is now 7-years-old and understands her disease as well as a mature 7-year-old can. She is my hero.

Her team of physicians at Children's is fantastic and I welcome any questions through my blog: http://zoellesstory.blogspot.com/.


Zoelle's mom, Angela


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