Friday, January 29, 2010

Making it real.

After all the research and googling I have been doing a friend's mom C mentioned the Arthritis Foundation. She mentioned a walk, information, research...I kept hearing her talk, but my mind was going...

The first thought that popped into my head?

Arthritis Foundation...that isn't my thing...

See, for the past 7 years our family has focused our time and fundraising "walks" on the Race for Hope J's dad died October 9, 2002 from a brain tumor.

Bean was named for him.
She was born on my in-laws' anniversary.
A bright light after the sad loss of a 57 year old gentle and kind man.
Brain cancer is our cause...Arthritis...

If I make the call, does that make the journey real? Do I make that call?
I don't know if I'm ready for that.

Well, I didn't have to be ready, with my permission, my friend's mom - C - the wife of a Rheumatologist, made the connection for me and had the Arthritis Foundation contact me.

They asked if I wanted to get involved...if I wanted a welcome package. I heard the words come out of my mouth "yes."

But it wasn't really what I wanted to say. I wanted to say, no - I don't want a welcome package, I don't want to get involved...I don't want my daughter to have arthritis...I mean, if I do say yes it means this is real, that my baby has arthritis...that she is on a chemo drug...that she has pain...that she has to deal with this and not just get better while we wait it out.

But, I said yes.

Today my package came - Thank you C for helping me take this first step:

Thursday, January 28, 2010

When reading is not a good idea...

My daily Google alert led me to this article. Do I understand it? Maybe. What does it mean? I have no idea.

But it is education, and a direction to research farther. (SOJIA stands for Systemic onset juvenile idiopathic arthritis)

The section below is in plainish English and might be helpful for understanding the disease. Bolding the parts that got my eye.

SOJIA represents about 10% of all the cases of JIA. The course and prognosis of SOJIA is heterogeneous, as fifty per cent of patients have a monophasic course with resolution of the symptoms, while the remaining fifty per cent develop a chronicrelapsing and remitting course and a very severe form of polyarticular chronic arthritis. Patients with SOJIA also display an increased risk of developing hemophagocytic syndrome, a potentially fatal complication (Cassidy, J T and Ross, E. 2001. Textbook of Pediatric Rheumatology, 4th ed, Books on Demand Publishers, Visby, Sweden; p. 218-321).

Children with SOJIA present with severe systemic symptoms (fever and rash) that usually precede the development of arthritis for weeks to years. The high spiking fever, which is the hallmark of this disease, usually follows a quotidian patternwith 1-2 spikes/day. Patients look characteristically well when the fever is not present, but become quite ill with the spikes. In many patients, the fever is accompanied by a salmon-pink rash that becomes more apparent with the fever. Additionally,children with SOJIA may have hepatosplenomegaly, lymphadenopathy, pericarditis and other manifestations of serositis. These systemic manifestations may last from weeks to months and eventually tend to subside to be followed by the development of chronicarthritis. About 50% of patients will present oligoarticular involvement and will eventually recover. The other half will evolve into a polyarticular pattern, the prognosis of which correlates with the number of joints involved six months into thedisease course. Up to 48% of children with SOJIA will have active arthritis ten years after the diagnosis is made (Cassidy, J T and Ross, E. 2001. Textbook of Pediatric Rheumatology, 4th ed, Books on Demand Publishers, Visby, Sweden; p. 218-321; andLomater C, et al., 2000. J Rheumatol 27:491-496).

There are no available specific tests to establish the diagnosis of SOJIA, nor are there known prognostic indicators to ascertain its clinical course. Fever, anemia, leukocytosis and elevated erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) are the maininitial features of the disease, sometimes lasting several months before the diagnosis can be established. As these symptoms are nonspecific and can mimic infections, malignancies, and other diseases, patients undergo a series of very costly diagnostictests and prolonged hospitalizations.

One of the most serious complications in patients with SOJIA is the development of hemophagocytic syndrome, also known as macrophage activation syndrome (MAS) (Cassidy, J T and Ross, E. 2001. Textbook of Pediatric Rheumatology, 4th ed, Books onDemand Publishers, Visby, Sweden; p. 218-321). The hemophagocytic syndrome, which can occur as well in the context of infectious and neoplastic diseases, is associated with serious morbidity and/or death. Its etiology, especially in the context ofSOJIA, is unknown. Familial cases of MAS occur as the result of defective viral killing due to mutations in genes like perforin (involved in the release of granzyme by cytotoxic T cells/natural killer cells to target cells) or Rab27 (involved in thecontrol of granzyme vesicle degranulation).

Therefore, SOJIA remains a chronic inflammatory disease of unknown etiology for which a specific treatment has not been determined. Despite extensive study, multi-drug treatment of patients with SOJIA is similar to that of oligoarthritis andpolyarthritis, which depends on the phase (systemic phase versus arthritic phase) of the disease and on the extent of involvement. While a minority of patients does well with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), most children require the useof oral and/or parenteral steroids as well as methotrexate to control the symptoms. Intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG) has been used in recalcitrant cases. Most recently, anti-TNF therapy (e.g., etanercept and infliximab) is being added to theseregimens. Nevertheless, there are some limitations and risks associated with these drugs. For example, long term treatment of these patients with immunosuppressive drugs such as methotrexate and steroids have been reportedly associated with an impairedability of the patients to eliminate viral infections. Intravenous immunoglobulin treatment is accompanied by the risks associated with transfusions of blood-derived products. The present inventors have found that SOJIA patients do not respond as welland require higher doses of anti-TNF agents to control the symptoms than any other type of JIA. Therefore, there is a continuing need to identify effective drug treatments for SOJIA disease.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Too good to be true.

Bean took her 14th dose of Methotrexate last night. She didn't want to eat dinner it just isn't like my little beauti. She said her mouth hurt so I took a look and there it was, her first side effect - a mouth sore.

For 14 weeks she had no side effects...I guess it was just too good to be true.

We had some medicine to put on it - bad tasting medicine, bad smelling medicine...medicine that needs to dry before you can close your mouth our eat/drink anything. Bean is one of the worst medicine takers I know...

But our amazing friend B was over for dinner with her family, this is the woman who (in adition to J) helped me deliver all four of our children. If she could get me through that - she surely get Bean through this. Well she did! A bit if distraction, a bit of fun and we did it - She counted "black cats" and with that we were able to distract Bean enough to put medicne on and sooth her pain.

I will write Dr. H an e-mail to see if we increase the Folic Acid or if there is something else we can do. But for now - we are counting "black cats!"

1 black cat
2 black cats
3 black cats...

Thursday, January 21, 2010

One year tomorrow...

One year tomorrow....I need to say that again. One year tomorrow. This journey began one year ago tomorrow. I watched my Bean dance today...with every joint of in her body - her hips, her knees, her elbows, her wrists, her ankles, her sholders, her neck...
One year ago tomorrow this journey began. But today, she danced!