Long term health conditions

Joseph - Interview 17

Male
Age at interview: 17
Age at diagnosis: 7

Brief outline: Joseph was diagnosed with Enthesitis Related Arthritis at the age of seven. After initial remission his condition flared up again and it became more difficult to control. He was started on a new drug, Enbrel and has been on remission for the last two years.

Background: Joseph finished his AS levels he will go on to do his A-levels. After that he plans to go to university. He lives with his parents and has an older sister. Ethnic background/nationality' British.

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Joseph's arthritis was triggered by an episode of food poisoning when he was seven years old. Joseph's condition is genetic, and he carries a particular type of gene that made his immune system over-react to the food poisoning. He remembers his joints swelling up and being in pain. He was put on steroids and given pain relief tablets. He also started physiotherapy. 

He found it strange to be diagnosed with arthritis and having to use a Zimmer frame. He said it was strange because you don't see many seven years old using Zimmer frames or going to school in a wheelchair. At school he found it embarrassing because he had to be pushed around all the time. After a year of treatment his arthritis went into remission and Joseph came out of the wheelchair again. 

Joseph had a relapse when he was 13 years of age. He was experiencing a lot of pain and the doctors put him on Methotrexate to try and relieve the pain and get him back in remission. He was on that drug for about three years. He says that Methotrexate wasn't really working as he was still experiencing a great deal of pain.

During this period he found it very difficult to manage school. He had problems walking and was unable to sleep at night because of the pain. His feelings at that time were of frustration, sadness and anger. His parents and grandparents have been a great source of support and encouragement throughout his experience. He continued attending school and was determined not to give up. Joseph has always felt accepted by his peers and he did not experience any bullying or discrimination at either primary or high school. 

Due to the severity of his condition he was referred to a specialist Adolescent clinic in another city and funding was obtained for him to go onto a new treatment. He was started on Enbrel, a drug that it is fully licensed for adults but not yet for children. Joseph decided to stop taking Methotrexate and says that the team at the clinic respected his decision but made him aware of possible problems. He has always felt very well supported by the team at the Adolescent clinic. For the last two years Joseph has been in remission. 

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