Usually when you think of arthritis, you think of your grandparents. Truth is, children can develop the condition as well and for kids like Kai, it can be excruciating and debilitating. Kai first started complaining about a sore elbow around Christmas, but when the soreness didn’t subside by January, his mom took him to the family doctor and eventually to urgent care when the pain worsened. There, an X-ray found a pocket of fluid in his elbow. Turns out, it was the second one. He had had a shoulder injury several months earlier that also showed a similar pocket of fluid. Because of this, urgent care referred Kai to Rheumatologist Dr. Schmeling at the Alberta Children’s Hospital.
Within two weeks, the pain flared up in joints throughout his body – his shoulders, elbows, wrists, ankles, and hips. Suddenly Kai, an avid snowboarder, couldn’t even walk. The pain was completely debilitating. In the middle of March, during the start of the pandemic in Alberta, he was diagnosed with an auto immune disease called Enthesitis-related juvenile idiopathic arthritis – his immune system was attacking the healthy cells in all of his joints. He was admitted for a day surgery to receive injections in all his joints. Because Kai also suffers from anxiety and a fear of needles, Chelsey was so grateful for how his doctors introduced them to a psychologist who gave him strategies to cope with his pain and the Child Life team who helped him cope with his fear of needles.
Kai was able to go home on two medications but when the pain returned, his doctors switched him to a different injection his mom has learned to administer at home once a week. Today, thanks to his supportive medical team, which also included physiotherapy, his arthritis is under control and his pain level has decreased significantly, so much so that now Kai is back to snowboarding!
Chelsey and her family are so grateful to the Alberta Children’s Hospital that has made such a difference in Kai’s life. To them, it’s place where teams of experts “pick you up and say, ‘we’ve got this!’”, providing hope and comfort to families like theirs navigating a difficult diagnosis. It’s why she and her family are Miracle Makers already!
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