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Olly’s story: My journey with juvenile idiopathic arthritis

Olly has juvenile idiopathic arthritis
11 June 2021

Say hello to Olly – or should that be Batman, or Iron Man? – every day is different!

Whoever he is dressed up as, five-year-old Olly is always cheeky, full of energy and loves to climb, ride his bike or play with his friends.

At the beginning of 2019, Olly’s mum Alicia was concerned that he was tripping over a lot and brought him to Sheffield Children’s for an appointment.

Alicia said: “They checked his feet and knees and found a bit of restriction in his left side so we needed to have an X-ray. He was just three at the time but kept a cheeky little smile on his face even with all the big machines around him.

“The X-ray showed that he had JIA – or juvenile idiopathic arthritis – and that’s when it all started for little Olly.”

Arthritis is mostly associated with older people, but it can also affect children. Around 15,000 young people in the UK are affected by it. JIA causes pain and inflammation in one or more joints for at least six weeks.

Olly’s treatment continued in March that year when he visited our Theatres to have steroid injections in his knee, which reduced the inflammation. At his follow up appointment, his care plan was organised.

Alicia explained: “We were referred to Physiotherapy – Olly was ecstatic to find out his physio was also an Ollie! – where he played with footballs and did different movements. We had more physiotherapy appointments every few months and we were also referred to Orthopaedics for insoles to help his feet and a splint which he wore for bed to straighten his knee – as Olly likes to say, it’s his robot leg!”

Olly also makes regular visits every three months to the Eye Department where he checked for uveitis – which is when the middle layer of the eye becomes inflamed, and can cause eye pain and changes to your vision.

“There are regular clinic appointments to check Olly’s weight, height and of his joints – a good wiggle as Olly says – and he loves running around the room while they check his feet and legs!

“A big thing for Olly is taking his medication, which we do twice a week. To my shock he gladly takes the tablets and enjoys collecting his prescription from the Sheffield Children’s pharmacy – they know him well now and most visits he leaves with some stickers!”

Fast forwarding to the present, Olly has been discharged from Physiotherapy and no longer needs to wear a splint to bed but he still takes a weekly medication and has regular appointments for blood tests and eye checks among others.

Alicia said: “He’s still a cheeky smiley boy who just gets on with it all – my own little superhero!

“The staff at the hospital are amazing too. They are always smiling and are so patient – whichever appointment Olly has as he always likes to see what they’re doing, especially in the Eye Department. I have nothing but appreciation and thanks for how supportive everyone is!”

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