I finally decided that if our son had any chance of recovery I was going to have to advocate for my baby and get myself educated. So I started documenting EVERYTHING. I took photo's of the rash and documented exactly when it came in relation to the fever and what other symptoms he had. I documented how his fever would not break even with Motrin or Tylenol until it was good and ready, and then it would rapidly drop to 94.0 and he would shake violently for hours. I knew in my soul this was not a bone issue, but a systemic (whole body)problem so I pushed. For 2 weeks, I pushed. I had to push against my own family at times because they felt like the Doctors knew better than me, they were wrong. Never underestimate a mothers instinct! I was about to have our 2nd child any minute and Jackson was not getting better. The Infectious disease doc made the decision to let us go home on IV antibiotics and return for more testing in 3 days. I was blessed enough to have an OBGYN agree to induce me in so I could have the baby and get back to figuring out what was happening.
On January 19th we welcomed our beautiful baby girl Jenna Claire, as I have posted before, she was born to be content and that she was. The next few visits consisted of bone marrow tests, spinal taps, and everything else under the sun. When Infectious disease finally decided they had ruled out any freak disease they referred us to the one who saved our son's mobility. His pediatric Rheumatologist at ACH, her name is Dr.Morris and she was a hard lady. She came in, looked at my journal and plainly said ( I know because I wrote this down as well, Lord knows I would not remember) , "Mrs.Orman, your son has Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis with a Systemic Onset, meaning his whole body is being affected. Joints, blood cells, platelets, all of it. JA is cannot be cured, but WILL control it if you can handle what has to be done." SAY WHAT? I knew I was not crazy (yea I didn't know that, that would be a lie, I have always been a little off), so she sent us home with a prescription for daily immune suppressant injections that costed approx $1500 a month. Thank you JESUS we had insurance that didn't argue too much. We started the daily shots and it immediately (seriously after like 2 shots) it killed the rash and fever. The problem was that it was not helping his pain.....at all. Praise the Lord, again, I found an online site for parents of kids with arthritis. Those ladies saved what little sanity I had left. They encouraged me to push hard for steroids for Jackson, they told me the steroids are not ideal but they would get him mobile. So I called I started begging his Rheumatologist, calling I know 6 times every day until she finally caved in and gave us the steroids. She has seen lots of damage done to children by over use of steroids when that's the only drug we had.
After 3 doses of Prednisone at a grown mans dose Jackson was riding his bike again! The steroids gave his body a jump on getting the inflammation down and the injections maintained it. Over the course of about 3-4 months Jackson went from having swollen knees that looked like baseballs and hip pain that had him walking like at 95 year old, to a sweet, round faced little chipmunk that could run like the wind again.
I don't know how Jackson's JA journey would have ended because he left this Earth way too soon, but I can say he successfully weaned off the steroids and one of his weekly injections. WE were down to one shot daily and no meds by mouth. The summer that Jackson went to Heaven we planned to start trying to wean the immunosuppressant to see if he would "flare" and what his body could do after approx 3 years of daily shots. I was scared and so was he. I remember him asking me "If we stop my shots, I won't be able to run as fast will I ? " I remember being so sad that my baby was dependent at 5 years old on a daily shot, but hey it was working and he stronger for it. He learned to Cowboy up from all the pain he suffered, he learned to smile through pain. He taught me that if I want something bad enough, I have to be willing to grit my teeth and go for it.
I can also say that though we don't know how his journey with JA would end, and while JA did not take Jackson's life, I rest knowing that Jackson David no longer gives a hoot that he ever fought JA. He could be riding a horse with wings this very moment for all we know, pain free with nothing holding him back now. I will tell you how I KNOW he is not held down by any pain, I was given a promise and I repeat it everyday at some point to myself. I need this promise like air and I live my life and I breath by this promise. I wear this promise on me at all times on my necklace or bracelet, I need to be reminded that the pain I live with daily being here on Earth without my son will end. Here is God's promise to me and to all who know Jesus. Amen.
Revelation 21:4 He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever."
I have gained many amazing friends through Jackson's journey with JA, and honestly I doubt they know the impact they had on our journey. To all my JA mom's I love you and I pray for your kids and all they endure. Thank you for making that journey bearable and for cheering us on. And to anyone else who read this story, I pray that now you SEE and understand that Arthritis is not just some old people "thing" it is debilitating and it cripples kids as well as adults everyday.