Meet the patients: Jasmine Armstrong
Living with paediatric arthritis
Hi, we are the Armstrong family and I am Jasmine Armstrong. I am stood in front of my Dad (David) in the picture with my mum (Sarah) and brother (Jamie).
In the photo I am twelve. When I was very little, about 16 months old, I started to have problems with my ankle that made me limp. We had many trips to the doctors and hospital to try and find out why I was hurting but nobody could find the problem. Finally after three months of many visits I was diagnosed with juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA). My Mum and Dad were very relieved and glad that at last we had a diagnosis.
Because I had many hospital appointments and was upset with the pain, my Mum had to give up her job, because so much time was taken off and the child minder could not settle me. When I was little I had to wear a splint on my wrist at night and this was very uncomfortable. I also had to have physiotherapy to stop my joints from getting stiff and losing the full movement.
I have been given anti-inflammatory drugs but when I have nasty flare ups, where my joints would swell and be really stiff and hurt me a lot, I would have to have steroid injections into these sore joints.
When I was four and a half the anti-inflammatory drugs stopped working, so I tried a new one. This one was called methotrexate. This is a strong medication also used in chemotherapy. I have to take folic acid every day to reduce the side effects and boost my immune system. This drug seems to work better at controlling my flare ups and also with the pain management.
I started having this orally but it stopped working as well, so we had to move to the dreaded injection. My mum has to inject me in my arm every week on the same day. I really hate having this done but know it helps me, so I just have to grit my teeth and get it done. However, I suffer the whole day - feeling sick after the injection.
As well as having the pain in my joints I also developed uveitis which is abnormal cells in the eyes that can cause disabling inflammation. I now have to use eye drops on and off to control this, otherwise this condition can cause blindness. The drops they give you at theeye-test make everything blurry for the rest of the day, so it’s hard to go to school or do anything until they’ve worn off.
As well as having my weekly injection of methotrexate I also have an infusion on infliximab. This is another drug to help control inflammation especially my eyes. The infliximab is given to me once every eight weeks. For this I stay in hospital all day and I have a cannula fitted to infuse the drugs into my system. I feel really washed out the evening after having this.