Photo by David Govoni
"There are some distinct benefits to your juvenile arthritis causing you to use a power wheelchair since your teens. For one, no one doubts that I have a chronic illness.
The first symptoms of juvenile idiopathic arthritis (or, as it was known in the old days, juvenile rheumatoid arthritis) arrived when I was four years old. It took another five years to get a diagnosis.
Initially, the JIA settled in only in two joints, but when puberty hit, so did the disease. And hard. Fast-forward through a bad systemic flare that almost killed me, fused hips, two years spent lying in a hospital bed waiting for hip replacements, and finally getting those hip replacements at sixteen. They enabled me to sit up and use a power wheelchair and I went home to live a pretty normal life. This involved going to school, moving to Canada (I am originally from Denmark), a couple of university degrees, some work, love, loss, friends, and fun. In other words: life.
But it is a life lived from a wheelchair with very visible signs of RA on my body and it has some interesting challenges. There are the looks and questions from the people I meet, and then there are accessibility issues."