MIA's Dream Journal
Motto: "Believe, Laugh, Have Fun"
Diagnoses: Systemic Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis (JRA), Inflammation of the Liver and Lymph Nodes
High School Team: Hays High Steppers
Mia is taking on her sophomore year with courage and resilience.
"We don’t know why her arthritis has been so active this past year, but her attitude has taken it on in such an admirable way. We had more doctor visits, MRIs and clinic visits than we expected over the last year, but every time Mia made a comment that reminded me how well she’s handling it all.", says Erika, Mia's mom. During her recent MRI, she said, “Well, Momma, at least I have the ability to see doctors. I can’t be sad even though I’m in pain because at least I have the ability to get treatment.” Even on the toughest days, Mia puts forth a positive outlook.
The good news is that her resilience lead her to apply for her first job! Mia even advocated for herself and explained that she can’t stand for long periods of time or lift anything heavy, but she can do many other things that she described would benefit the team. The hiring manager hired her on the spot! "Mia was so excited, I thought she was going to faint!", says Erika. It was a joyful moment to celebrate. She’s also been learning how to drive. She's been nervous but ready to take on that next step too.
Mia is still dealing with days she can’t walk and there are still lots of swelling, but when you talk to her, she’ll never, ever mention her arthritis. She welcomes any conversation with everything else she has going on but her disease.
Erika continued, "Her Dad and I decided when she was diagnosed at 10 months that we would never treat Mia as a victim. That decision is paying off endlessly. Our 17 year old knows she isn’t a victim to this ongoing, unpredictable disease. Rather, she figured out that her attitude and her effort are far stronger and are 2 areas she can always control."
Mia was 9 months old when she showed her first symptom of a fever of 105 and a rash. Thinking she was just virus, the fever lasted 37 days. After extensive blood work, bone scans, and multiple visits to the infectious disease specialist, Mia was diagnosed with systemic juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (JRA), inflammation of the liver and lymph nodes. Mia immediately started on a steroid treatment and methotrexate to control the inflammation, as well as NSAIDS for pain management. Over the next year, Mia struggled to get control of the arthritis and began to lose range of motion in her joints affecting her ability to walk or hold things. Since then, Mia has been on daily medicines for pain, weekly injections for arthritis, and bimonthly infusions. Mia is no stranger to MRIs, x-rays, bone scans, blood withdrawals, steroid injections in her joints, physical/occupational therapy, infusions, and traveling within the state to visit multiple doctors.
Through it all, Mia has developed a strong and giving spirit. Regardless of all the pokes and doctor visits, Mia continues keeps a positive and often, comical attitude when interacting with medical staff. She is very expressive and leaves a lasting impression wherever she goes. Mia has battled JRA for 8 years, her entire life.