Do you remember when you were a child on Christmas morning? Waking up early in the hope that Santa has arrived. Then, racing down the stairs and the sheer excitement of tearing off Christmas paper to reveal those shiny new toys?
For little Meghan, that’s not something she’s been able to cherish in her short life so far. Instead, her Christmas memories are of unbearable pain, noisy hospitals and scary injections.
Mairead describes her daughter as a “strong and determined little girl” so when she started crying with every movement, crying in her sleep, Mairead knew something was desperately wrong.
“It’s very hard to see your own child crying in pain; not knowing what is wrong and not being able to take that pain away,” Mairead says.
After numerous tests in numerous hospitals, she and Meghan’s dad, Kevin, were reassured that their daughter had a viral infection that would pass in a number of weeks. Weeks passed. Meghan’s condition got worse. Mairead says that it was only when she was at breaking point – crying with frustration in the hospital – that she first heard about arthritis in children.
I found Arthritis Ireland’s number online and called them straight away. I told them my story, the hell we’d been through and fears we had. Immediately, they told me exactly what I needed to do to see an expert in the area.”
Within three weeks of that phonecall, Meghan was diagnosed with an aggressive form of juvenile arthritis.
After undergoing numerous procedures, including draining fluid from her joints and steroid injections, Meghan was started on high-tech biologic treatments to keep her disease under control.
“When I look back now I know that phone call to Arthritis Ireland was the turning point. They gave me the direction to where I needed to go and the support and information to get there.”
This Christmas will be Meghan’s third and a special one for her entire family. Last year, she spent much of the festive period very ill in hospital. Thankfully, Meghan is doing better now and she is looking forward to joining her sister, Zoe, in tearing paper from presents on Christmas morning.
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