Reuben was diagnosed with Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (extended oligo type) when he was 20 months old, and then with Uveitis when he was 3 years old. He is now 7 years old and is currently on biological medication to manage both diseases. It is his lower joints that are affected.
Despite the flares and medication he is a very active child. He has completed a year dancing with the Birmingham Royal Ballet on a scholarship programme, and has just been offered classes for a further year! He also loves swimming, football and cycling.
Keeping up with his peers has not always been plain sailing, although joint flares have rarely caused him to miss lessons, and discomfort often temporarily fades away amidst the fun and excitement of school and activities. Fatigue has also been a challenge for Reuben, but again the excitement of taking part in his favourite activities has enabled him to push through and achieve more than we might have thought possible.
Reuben, like many other children living with JIA, shows tremendous resilience and can bounce back quickly after a flare. Of course there are good and bad days. On the good days, you could never distinguish Reuben from any other child. On the very bad it can take a couple of hours and lots of pain relief and hot water bottles (and cuddles) before he is able to get up and walk. On the more difficult days he might choose to sit out some of the more difficult routines at ballet or skip a football session, but due to his determination such occurrences are rare.
Like so many of our kids, Reuben has to put up with such a lot. Not just the pain and fatigue and everything else that comes with the disease, but the endless appointments, scans, injections, medication and blood tests. Despite all the unpleasantness, he never fails to come out the other side with his sense of humour and lust for life well and truly intact. (Not sure the same can be said for mum and dad!).
The bottom line for Reuben is that he gets on with enjoying his childhood to the best of his abilities and does not allow the JIA to be a barrier to him taking part in the activities he loves.
Gemma our youngest committee member has recently graduated from Derby University with a BSc (Hons) Occupational Therapy. She is now working in the Occupational Therapy department of a Birmingham hospital.
Despite being diagnosed with both Juvenile Arthritis and Uveitis at a very young age she has never allowed this to define her life. She tackles everything with full determination and will not allow her JIA to control her life.
She regularly swims, loves bouldering and indoor climbing and is always seeking new challenges to keep herself fit and maintain her mobility.