I’m a Tulsa Kid: Bailey Harrington
Bailey Harrington, Age 15, 10th Grader at Charles Page High School, Sand Springs
Q: You have Juvenile Arthritis (J.A.). When were you first diagnosed and what symptoms were you having?
A: I was diagnosed in May of 2010, and I had a sore swollen wrist. But I had been having symptoms of painful knees for a few years before I was diagnosed.
Q: How is your life now compared with your life before being diagnosed with Juvenile Arthritis?
A: My life now is a lot harder. I don’t get to do as much as I used to. I get fatigued super easy. I take my life day by day, because I don’t know if I’ll have a good or bad day. I played competitive soccer for five years, and it was really hard to quit. I still exercise and play soccer for my high school.
Q: What is a typical day like for you?
A: It depends if I’m having a good or bad day. But on a typical day it’s still hard. I have to wake up at 5:30 a.m. just to get going. I take about a 45-minute shower just to get loosened up and ease the stiffness. It takes me two hours to get ready. Everything I do is like I’m in slow motion. But once I’m ready, I take my medicine and I’m off to school. On a bad day I can’t even get out of bed. I’m super stiff and sore. If I try to move around, I can barely walk and have to use my wheelchair to get around my house. Swollen knees, ankles or hips may be reasons that I have to use the wheelchair.
And I not only struggle with J.A. I also have fibromyalgia, scoliosis, ehlers danlos, erythema nodosem, and tmj. Also, I have been hospitalized five times due to kidney stones and had surgery because of complications from my arthritis medicine.
Q: What have you learned about J.A.?
A: I have learned a lot. What JA can do to you, the symptoms, the medicines and their side affects. And you can die from complications of this disease if you don’t take care of it and treat it right.
Q: Without listing the medications, can you tell us what each one does? I know you take an anti-inflammatory to reduce swelling, but what else?
A: I have a kidney stone medicine that helps dissolve the stones. I take about five different vitamins to stay healthy. I take a medicine that helps with the side affects of one of my shots. I take an anti-depressant and a medicine to help my stomach and help with ulcers. And I take four different medicines at night to help me sleep and to relax my fibromyalgia pain.
Q: You went to Washington D.C. to speak to congress about supporting funding for research for J.A. Tell me about that. What did you say?
A: I gave them a piece of my mind. I told them that J.A. needs to be put out there more and more people should know about it and what it can do, and that we need funding for research to find a cure!
Q: What has having J.A. taught you about yourself?
A: It has definitely taught me to pull through and be a strong person.
Q: What do you want other people to know about J.A.?
A: I want them to know that this disease is crippling and can kill. It’s no different than cancer or other illnesses really. Each illness does different things and some are a little worse than others. But an illness is an illness and arthritis should not be treated differently just because people think it doesn’t cause you to be sick and in pain.
I just want people to know kids and teens get arthritis. It’s not only older people.