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Arthritis This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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     I usually do not get sick, but when I do, I don't always feel it. During seventh grade, though, I would wake up at six, go to school, come home, sleep, eat dinner, and be in bed by six and still be exhausted the next morning. I thought this must be normal, that I was just stressed out with all the new teachers and lots of homework.

In eighth grade, I was pretty much back to normal. I still tired easily, but it wasn't too bad. Then one night I woke up when the muscles in my left leg tightened and hurt so much that I couldn't move it. I iced it, heated it and stretched it, but nothing seemed to work. I tried going back to sleep, thinking it must be because I had been so active. The next morning I was sore, but better. It was like that for a week, and then one day my wrists stiffened up whenever I moved them. I couldn't write and it was difficult picking things up. When I got home the stiffness had moved to my neck and elbows. When I told my mom, she didn't know what to do, and told me to lie down and relax.

By then I was in tears. The stiffness had moved through my entire body. Whenever I moved, my muscles would tighten and hurt like crazy. I had trouble walking, and once I sat, I was down. I walked with a very bad slouch because I couldn't stand upright or straighten either of my legs. My mom decided to take me to the emergency room, and I couldn't even bend down to put on my shoes and socks.

The doctor was dumbfounded; he had never seen anything like this. I was checked for Lyme disease, strep, and tons of other things. The strep came back positive, but the blood work showed that the infection had been there for a long time. I hadn't even noticed I had it. I went to see my regular doctor, but he had no idea what was wrong either. He told me to go to a specialist. By then I had gotten a rash that was perfectly symmetrical on both hands. We were pretty sure I had Lyme disease, and didn't know why the doctors couldn't diagnose it. By now, I was really scared. What if I was like this forever?

It took several blood tests and many more doctor visits before my illness was diagnosed. I had post infectious reactive arthropathy. It's not as confusing or as bad as it sounds. My blood tests showed that at some point I had had mono and strep. We think I had mono in seventh grade and the strep was more recent. Because I did not show any signs, both illnesses went untreated, which caused the arthritis symptoms. I was lucky, though. The doctor said that since I got the arthritis all at once, it would go away faster and I would not have it my entire life. He also said it could take as long as to a year to recover.

I still feel a few side effects, but am basically back to normal, except for occasionally being tired and stiff. It's funny to see people's faces when I tell them the long name of the illness which most doctors don't even seem to know.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.




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