Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Thankful for 2014

My awesome friend Julie just posted about the 10 things she's thankful for this year. It got me thinking about what things I'm grateful for this year. It's always a good thing to think about before you wind up doing that round table during Thanksgiving dinner right??

This year has been unreal. Seriously, pinch me.

1. My husband

This year could’ve very well been the worst year of my life given a lot of the things that have happened. I could’ve spent a lot more time stressing out and upset and had a nervous breakdown. Instead, I got married to my best friend – someone who always makes me laugh, even when I’m ready to cry or throw punches.

He calms my nerves, helps me with my struggles, and celebrates my victories. In every sense of the Aristotelian idea of people having been two and then split by Zeus, Theron just completes me. He pushes me to do better when I can, to rest when I need to, and to do amazing things I never thought I’d be able to do. Honestly, he's also the most constant thing in my life, and it's been amazing to have that.

2. My family

I don’t even know where to start.

Side note: need to take more pics
Kelsey, you are the coolest person and I am so incredibly proud of you. I’m so happy that I get to be your big sister, and I hope that I’m as helpful for you as you are for me. I'm so excited for your baby on the way and for Missy to be a big sister.

This year, I get to spend my first Thanksgiving with the family Kelsey and I both should’ve grown up with. I wish she could be there, but I know my phone won’t be far from me! I’m nervous and excited all at once – I want to make a good impression on the extended family, but I also know that they’ll love me just as I am.

There are other people in what I call my family of choice, from Theron’s family to the extended family I grew up with to people in the next 3 thankful bullet points. I am so incredibly blessed to have people in my life that are so amazingly awesome.

3. My friends

I have the coolest friends ever. There are people I’ve known most of my life that I’m still friends with. Sometimes we lose contact, but it always seems like we pick right up where we left off. I have amazing friends from college, from jobs, from being sick (more on that later), and from random craigslist ads. No matter how we found each other, I am so grateful to have you in my life y’all.

4. Our guinea pigs

Hallo! I am Gus Gus!

I am Jaq, king of the dad!

Ah, to finally have pets again. It’s been so long! I love my little buddies so much it’s crazy. They’re so much fun. I know I’m not a mom (yet?) but they give me joy just like I could be. And they’re so stinkin’ cute!

5. The spoonie community

You guys, I have a really hard time putting into words what you all mean to me. You’ve helped me grow, be safe, learn self-care and self-love. Everything that I am today has so much to do with everything that each of you has done for me or helped me do. I hope that I’m doing enough to give back and to help. I will always feel indebted to you all for your help and your love. Everything I've done this year would be impossible without it.

6. My trip to DC in March

In March, I was able to go to DC as a part of the Arthritis Advocacy Summit with the Arthritis Foundation. That trip helped get a lot of things in my life moving. It combined with my connections with national politicians on a local level jumpstarted my advocacy again. I was able to travel to one of the biggest cities in the US by myself without any big problems. I got to visit historical sites, see a Shakespearean first folio and a Gutenberg Bible, and hold my own. We were busy, but I was able to spend time by myself doing something I loved, and that hasn’t really ever happened on a large scale. It started as little Kirsten in the big city, and wound up confident Kirsten heading home.
I can’t put into words how helpful that was for me. Hopefully this time next year, I can talk about MedX in the same light.

7. Ridding my life of toxic people

Honestly this could be the biggest one. Realizing how negatively toxic people impacted my health and removing them has been huge. When I’m alone in a room, everything is quiet for the first time in forever. There are no longer inner dialogues about things to worry about or having to prep myself for fights. I can focus all of that energy on myself, my family and friends, and my advocacy work.

8. Exploring religions and the metaphysical again

I was a religious studies major. I studied amazing religions and got glimpses of how they made others feel. For the last couples of years, I closed myself off to that feeling. I think a lot of it had to do with grieving for the self who wanted to change the world, who was going to graduate school and somehow ceased to exist.

I’m done grieving something I didn’t necessarily have. I had a dream to change the world, just now the audience and methods and circumstances and focuses have changed. I’ve moved from the theoretical to the practical, and I’m beginning to embrace that.

9. Buddha Doodles

Seriously you have to go check out the site. I love the daily emails with new doodles that help keep me focused on compassion and loving kindness. I love the author's story.

10. Technology

Without technology, I wouldn’t be able to do any of the things I love. Talking to my sister across the country would be so difficult with our schedules. Sending silly pictures to my friends to cheer them up – or receiving them! – would be near impossible. And I wouldn’t have connected with so many people in my life all around the world.

I’m so incredibly grateful for you, dear reader. I hope that your weekend is amazing and everything you want it to be.

So what about you. What are YOU grateful for?

Monday, November 24, 2014

Priority Seating Doesn't Include My Lap!

I am sitting here feeling pretty miserable today. Humidity is at 94% and outside it's alternating between snow and rain. We're supposed to get up to 3-5 inches of snow, but it's also been warm the last few days so I doubt that's how much will be on the ground.

On top of the humidity, I had a fun bus experience today.

Okay, it wasn't fun at all.

Despite being deserving of the priority seating on the bus, I generally sit towards the back. It's warmer back there and is often easier to navigate due to seat arrangements and whatnot. It also usually basically empties out at the stop before my stop for work, so that's always nice.

Today, the little old lady that rides our bus wasn't around, so I took her usual spot in the priority seating area. She usually sits on the side with three seats, which means she can rest her bag in the middle until/unless someone wants/needs to sit there. I made the decision before I really realized how much pain I was in. As I sat there, I swear I could hear my hips and knees crying out in agony. I was so grateful for that seat.

And then, he got on the bus and decided to sit in the middle seat on me.

I'm against a short wall, so there's really nothing I can do to get over. As soon as he sat down, I basically had to stand into a short squat and sit down again to even get him off my lap. Like, somehow he didn't notice he was practically sitting on me and the gal in the third seat. And it was pretty obvious.

I spent the rest of the bus ride (about half of it) debating whether standing would be more comfortable. I knew there was no way that would work.

I get that I'm a bigger girl. I take up more space. But I'm also a woman who is generally forced to make herself smaller than she really is, on the bus or elsewhere. I shouldn't have to sit sideways to ride the bus to work.

I thought my body was screaming at me before. Now it had a megaphone. I ended up getting off at the stop before mine because I just couldn't take it anymore. Even then, I had to pull myself out from under him a bit.

Is there a nice way to say to someone that they're hurting you? Or that priority seating doesn't include my lap? Or squishing someone who is sitting there specifically TO NOT BE SQUISHED??

Honestly, I don't know. I love riding the bus and, save a few weirdos, it's a good experience generally speaking. Perhaps I just need to find my voice and stand up for myself. I can't help but wonder, though, if he would have sat there if I looked more disabled.

On a happier note, I am excited to go spend the holidays with some family. More to come on that soon!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Secrets and Society's Love of Blaming the Victim

A few people have asked about why I'm being so straight forward about regarding some of the issues I've gone through recently, so I wanted to address those.

It's a popular notion that many things are too personal to discuss. Two of the biggest categories in my opinion that are kept quiet are ongoing/chronic illnesses and abuse.

On the illness side, I talk about it because I had no one to reference growing up. If I can help just one family or one person deal with this illness, then I'll consider this blog and the crud I go through worth it. Some of my favorite people in all of time and space are those I've met because they were brave enough to discuss their illnesses. As I said in my last post, I hate this disease and the others it brought along, but I love the people I know because of it (side note: did you see the new page all about resources like other bloggers? Check it out here).

I figure I've written about my sex life. You guys know enough about me that I also feel comfortable sharing my journey coming to terms with the abusive household in which I was raised. There was a point in time where I was ashamed or confused about a lot of it. I held it in and that contributed to how ill I felt. Now that I'm getting things out in the open, I feel better physically and mentally.

I also figure that many more people grow up in abusive situations than they realize. I had inklings, but never had equated my experiences with abuse until a friend asked me questions and led me to answers. I finally have peace in my heart and my mind. If I can bring that or the feeling that you're not alone, not the messed up one, to anyone else, then I will be happy.

I think interestingly enough that these two issues I have talked about more recently both are due to society's love of blaming the victim. Those of us with invisible illnesses are often met with phrases of passive aggressive judgment on how we handle our illnesses. We're told yoga or going paleo will cure us by people with no information, no handle on what we go through. It is made to seem that we either caused our illness - like smokers getting lung cancer (which is another story, because that's not the only contributing factor) - or we don't do anything to get ourselves better. Neither of those are fair judgments to pass on people, because we have no idea what they're going through or have gone through. You see the same thing in abuse or assault situations - the girl could've said no or the kid could've told a teacher. These phrases release the real culprit of any blame, and instead turn it to the victim who internalizes this message and tries to do everything to not cause waves. You don't want to excel in school, but you also know failure isn't an option because you'll be ridiculed or worse. You do just enough to pass through things, not shining but not failing either. There are some, like me as a high schooler, who throw everything into academics or other activities as a means of escape.

I've recently been berated for sharing what's happened from a couple of people as well. It seems that secrets are treasured in 'families' and we should be quiet about things that have transpired. That kind of thinking just perpetuates abuse, and makes it okay for us to ignore. If you don't like what I have to say, then don't listen.

I refuse to stop sharing things that will help other people while helping me heal. I refuse to stop talking about self care, self love, and self worth. I refuse to keep the majority of my life a secret. I don't care if the world knows what my secrets are, because I will always continue to be true to myself and my loved ones.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Reflections on 21 Years of Illness, Part 3: Happy Birthday Arthur!

TODAY marks 21 years of living with this disease for me. It's not necessarily a day I want to celebrate, but it is also a day that I cannot let go by unmarked. I have written a few different blog posts this week reflecting on the live I've lived so far, the lessons learned, and the amazing steps that have been made in chronic illness and rheumatology care since 1993. This is part three in the series.

Yesterday, I logged into my facebook account and saw a post from another adult living with JA in a JA support group that's generally frequented by parents of children with JA. She discussed some of her frustrations having grown up with JA - the limitations she's always had, the things she's missed out on, the anger she feels when an older person complains about what they're suddenly unable to do now that they have RA, etc. She reflected on how she just left all the adult RA support groups, because she couldn't handle the complaints about giving up high heels and such anymore.

Last year, I was very much this young woman. This year, everything in my life has changed, and I hope it does for her as well. There is a place for anger, but there is beauty in moving past it and using it as fuel for change.

When I first got sick, things happened quickly and yet slowly at the same time - medical tests, doctor appointments, my kindergarten class sending 'get well' and 'we miss you' cards, eliminating certain foods, changing detergents and soaps, getting chicken pox on top of my itchy then-unknown rash, etc, etc, etc. Nothing helped. I was just so tired of being poked and prodded and not being a normal kid. When the misdiagnoses of leukemia was brought up, and I was given six weeks to live, I made a bucket list.

I still haven't done everything that was on it. I don't even remember what all was on there, not that it matters now. My priorities are different and I've done things I never dreamed would be possible.

When I was finally diagnosed a few months later at age 6, medical literature stated that I'd be in a wheelchair by age eight. There was other literature that stated just how difficult SJIA in particular was to treat, and that disfigurement and life threatening issues popped up for every one of the afflicted children. I had already thought I was dying, and the household I lived in sadly encouraged that because it increased both my panic and my attachment to the women I was raised by. As my eighth birthday approached, I cried myself to sleep every night thinking that I would magically wake up on April 26, 1996, unable to walk - that I would be unwrapping a wheelchair instead of Lego sets. When that didn't happen, I was not relieved. Instead, my anxiety increased, and I began to go to bed with fear in my heart. I was pulled out of school and left to school myself. I was isolated from friends and adults who could've helped see the negative issues in my household and get us help. I was refused a medication that could've gotten me into remission or my disease under control, avoiding the disfigurements my bones now have. In fact, I was refused all medical treatment period within two years. I wasn't really even allowed to learn about my disease - that was never a curiosity fostered in my home. My sister had it even worse with the things withheld from her and the issues she endured - and is still going through - because of it.

I begged to go to school every single year. Some years, it was that I 'didn't ask early enough' so there was no way I'd be able to get into a school. Others it was that I clearly was too sick to go. When I was finally allowed to go back, I was overweight, overdosing on Aleve, and incredibly socially awkward. I was picked on and bullied - even by teachers. Middle school is always hard, but damn. I'm lucky enough that I fell in with a great group of kids as friends.

In high school, things in the household got worse. Violence escalated in newer ways at home, and being there sucked. I loved learning about the different cultures and religions in the world. I loved escaping my body when I could. I had been meditating and doing yoga since I was 12, but this gave more meaning to it all. My pain escalated and I thought that I could lose weight by starving myself, and that made things a million times worse. I then threw myself into my academics, and excelled, but still felt crummy more days than not.

In college, my pain escalated with the lovely new cold of Wisconsin I was being exposed to. I tried to get help on campus, but instead of knowing how to help at all, I was told that I knew my body better than the medical professionals at the health clinic - that I was a big girl and that I should know how to take care of myself. I couldn't find any medical records to help myself. I began to blog, and I found others like me! I met amazing people over the internet, who along with my now-hubby helped push me to get care. I began medications, moved to a new city, and tried to take graduate classes while working. I was able to keep it up for a while, but not long enough. I've been removed from school for three years at the end of this semester. I miss it, but I also no longer need it for the purpose it once served - escape and a doorway to freedom.

This past year has been amazing. I've finally put names to what my sister and I both went through growing up. We're understanding it, and others are as well. Friends are asking, not to be nosy but to help and to learn - heck, a wonderful friend is how I really learned about these forms of abuse in the first place! I've cut out toxic people from my life, knowing I owe them nothing simply because of genetics. I've also welcomed people into my life who really deserved to be there all along because of genetics. I've gotten married - something that the small scared child I once was thought would never happen - and it was the best day of my entire life. Arthur stayed calm - stayed away - until everything was wrapping up. He let me have my day, and so now I am more patient with his days. That bucket list lil K made has far been dwarfed by what this year alone has brought.

A lot of feelings come up in each of the paragraphs above. I've dealt with depression issues since I was young - partly because of this disease and partly because of the family I was born into. I've dealt with a lot of anger dealing with the issues surrounding both too. Strong and negative emotions tend to affect my disease more. Stress makes it worse. Because of this disease, I have spent a long time hating my body because of what it cannot do, and hating others because of what they are able to do. I've spent most of my life being isolated, in one way or another. This blog has been, and continues to be, a way that I can open up. It has led me to meeting other sick chicks and health activism and patient advocacy. It has even led me to apply for the Stanford Medicine X conference (cross your fingers!!) and to Washington, D.C. this past March to hobnob with politicians.

I still hate this disease. I hate what it's done to this body I live in. I hate what it continues to do while only kinda under control. I hate that it often controls what I do. I hate that it makes me look like a poor job candidate or a poor worker. I hate that it's brought little buddies like fibro into the picture too. I hate what it has done to others that I know, from disfigurements to overwhelming medical debt to death. Without it, like the girl on facebook earlier, I don't know who I would be or what I would do. I wish I could change the pain levels and the lack of treatment that caused much of those.

On the other hand, I know so many people around the world that I can't imagine life without. They help push me to fight harder, to be a better person, and to change the world - but also to remember to take breaks when I need to and practice self care and self love. Like my hubby does, each of these people remind me that anything is possible when we put our minds to it.

This weekend will not be a sad one lamenting Arthur as last year's kind of was. Instead, I plan on practicing some self care and love. T and I are heading to a hockey game this afternoon, baking some treats, spending time with our guinea pigs, and finally finishing up with our wedding picture edit requests.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Reflections on 21 Years of Illness, Part 2: New Medications

This coming Friday will mark 21 years of living with this disease for me. It's not necessarily a day I want to celebrate, but it is also a day that I cannot let go by unmarked. I hope to write a few different blog posts this week reflecting on the live I've lived so far, the lessons learned, and the amazing steps that have been made in chronic illness and rheumatology care since 1993. This is part two in the series, documenting the breakthroughs in rheumatology over the last 21 years.

Enbrel [TNF alpha inhibitor]:
Approved to treat RA (Nov 1998)
Polyarticular JIA (1999)

Psoriatic Arthritis (2002)
Ankylosing Spondylitis (July 2003)
Plaque psoriasis (April 2004)

Approved to treat RA (Nov 2001)
While not FDA approved to do so yet, this is a drug of choice for SJIA/Still's

Humira [TNF alpha inhibitor]:
Approved to treat RA (Dec 31 2002)
Psoriatic Arthritis (2005)
Crohn's Disease (2006/2007)

Orencia [T-cell inhibitor]:
Approved to treat RA (Dec 2005)

Cimzia [TNF alpha inhibitor]:
Approved to treat Crohn's (Apr 2008)
RA (May 2009)
PsA (Sept 2013)
AS (Oct 2013)

Simponi [TNF alpha inhibitor]:
Approved to treat RA, PsA, AS (Apr 2009)

Ilaris [interleukin-1 beta inhibitor]:
Approved to treat CAPS (Oct 2009)
SJIA (May 2013)

Actemra [interleukin-6 inhibitor]:
Approved to treat RA (Jan 2010)
SJIA (Apr 2011)
Polyarticular JIA (Apr 2013)
New SubQ form approved for RA (Oct 2013)

Xeljanz [JAK (Janue kinase) inhibitor]:
Approved to treat RA (Nov 2012)

As you can see, there has been a ton of improvement in medications in the last 21 years. In 1993, the go-to was methotrexate if you weren't going to go into a medical trial for one of the above medications (namely Enbrel).

With these new medications, we have a better chance of finding a medication that works for each patient. We also have more options for harder to treat patients, especially those of us with SJIA/Still's.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Reflections on 21 Years of Illness, Part 1

This coming Friday will mark 21 years of living with this disease for me. It's not necessarily a day I want to celebrate, but it is also a day that I cannot let go by unmarked. I hope to write a few different blog posts this week reflecting on the live I've lived so far, the lessons learned, and the amazing steps that have been made in chronic illness and rheumatology care since 1993. This is part one in that series, about the random things that have happened since I fell ill. For the sake of limiting my political views from coming in here, I'll stop at 2007, when I began blogging and dating my hubby. Personal events will be bolded.

  • 1993
    • I fall ill (Nov 14)
    • NAFTA agreement (Nov 21)
    • Toni Morrison won a Nobel Peace Prize for literature (Nov 30)
  • 1994
    • Nancy Kerrigan attacked (Jan 13)
    • Four convicted in World Trade Center bombing (Mar 4)
    • Hutus in Rwanda began their genocide against the Tutsis (Apr 6)
    • South Africa held first interracial election and elect Nelson Mandela (Apr 29)
    • OJ Simpson arrested in connection with the murders of Nicole Brown and Ron Goldman (June 18)
    • I am finally given a real diagnosis that fits (summer)
    • MLB players went on strike (Aug 13), which caused owners to end the season and cancel the World Series (Sept 14)
    • After a month or so of first grade, I am pulled out and homeschooled (Nov)
  • 1995
    • My sister Kelsey also falls ill (last year or this year? I can't remember but she was 2 or 3), presenting the same symptoms as me. She is diagnosed by the family we were raised in and receives no medical treatment. I quickly am relieved of my access to medical care as well as the home we grew up in becomes increasingly abusive. The homeschooling we were both to receive turns into us trying to teach ourselves very quickly as the adults decide it isn't their problem to teach us.
    • MLB strike ended (Apr 2)
    • Appeals court upheld a woman's plea to enter the Citadel military academy (Apr 13)
    • Oklahoma City bombing (Apr 19)
    • Israelis and Palestinians agree to transfer the West Bank to Palestinian control (Sept 24)
    • Ceasefire reached in Bosnia (Oct 5)
    • Yitzhak Rabin killed (Nov 4)
  • 1996
    • FBI arrested suspect in Unabomber case (Apr 3)
    • Ella Fitzgerald died (June 15)
    • TWA Boeing 747, Flight 800, crashed (July 17)
    • Bomb set off at the Summer Olympic Games in Altanta, GA (July 25)
    • Madeline Albright becomes first female Secretary of State in the United States (Dec 5)
  • 1997
    • Hale Bopp comet proximity to Earth (Mar 22) inspired Heaven's Gate cult group to commit suicide, bodies found (Mar 26)
    • US spacecraft began survey of Mars (July 4)
    • Princess Diana killed in car crash (Aug 31)
    • Mother Teresa died (Sept 5)
    • Rituximab (Rituxin) approved by the FDA for use in non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma (Nov 26). It would later be used for RA and other rheumatic diseases as well.
  • 1998
    • President Clinton accused in sex scandal (Jan 21)
    • FDA approved Viagra (Mar 27)
    • Good Friday accord reached in Northern Ireland (Apr 10)
    • Infliximab (Remicade) is FDA approved for treatment of Crohn's disease (Aug 24). It will later be used to treat rheumatic diseases.
    • Matthew Shepard beaten to death for sexual orientation in Laramie, Wyoming (Oct 6)
    • Enbrel approved by the FDA for use in Rheumatoid Arthritis (Nov)
    • My brother Matt was born (Nov 20)
  • 1999
    • NBA ends labor dispute (Jan 6)
    • First nonstop balloon flight around the world completed (Mar 20)
    • Joe Dimaggio died (Mar 8)
    • NATO began airstrikes on Serbia (Mar 24)
    • Dr. Jack Kevorkian convicted of second-degree murder in assisted suicide/death with dignity case (Mar 26)
    • Columbine massacre (Apr 20)
    • First woman graduates from the Citadel (May 8)
    • US women's soccer team beats China for World Cup win (July 10)
    • JFK Jr died (July 16)
    • World population reached 6 billion (Oct 11)
    • Tobacco companies admit smoking is dangerous (Oct 13)
    • Elian Gonzalez debate starts (Nov 25)
  • 2000
    • Y2K Scare  (basically all year longggg)
    • Hilary Clinton enters senate race in New York (Feb 6)
    • The IRA missed their disarmament deadline, so Britain came back in to rule Northern Ireland (Feb 11)
    • Vermont approves same sex unions (Apr 25)
    • August Pinochet lost immunity granted by Chile, which leads to a trial for years of torture and abuse while he was dictator (May 24)
    • Israeli troops withdraw from Lebanon (May 24)
    • Britain leaves Northern Ireland again (June 4)
    • Yugoslavia overthrew government and president Milosevic (Oct 5)
    • USS Cole explosion (Oct 12)
  • 2001
    • George W. Bush sworn in as president (Jan 20)
    • Bush abandoned Kyoto Protocol (on global warming), pissing off like everybody (Mar 30)
    • Former Yugoslavian president Milosevic delivered to The Hague for his war crimes trial (June 29)
    • After years of begging, I am allowed to go back to public school (Sept 10 is my first day of 8th grade)
    • Terrorist attacks on the United States hit the Pentagon and take down the towers of the World Trade Center, while another plane reportedly headed for the White House crashed into an open field in Pennsylvania after passengers acted to stop the plan (Sept 11)
    • My immune system figures out how to get sick quick, and I'm home with the flu for a few days (Sept 12)
    • Anthrax letters find their way to several government agencies, killing a dozen people (Oct 5 and on)
    • Bombing campaign against Afghanistan began (Oct 7)
    • IRA finally began disarming (Oct 29)
  • 2002
    • The Euro began to be used in European Union countries (Jan 2)
    • East Timor becomes a new nation (May 20)
    • US Catholic bishops finally institute a zero tolerance policy of child abuse after several high profile cases come to light (June 14)
    • I start high school (Sept)
    • Vatican calls for softening of the above zero tolerance policy (Oct 18)
    • DC sniper attacks (Oct 2-24)
    • EPA relaxed Clean Air Act (Nov 22)
    • Department of Homeland Security created (Nov 25)
    • Humira approved by the FDA for use in RA, JIA, PsA, AS, Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, and plaque psoriasis (Dec 31)
  • 2003 
    • North Korea withdraws from nonproliferation treaty (Jan 10)
    • Space shuttle Colombia exploded (Feb 1)
    • Tons of demonstrations around the world pleading with US Government to leave Iraq alone (Feb 15) and then everyone in the UN tells the US to not invade Iraq (Feb 24)
    • We invade Iraq anyway (Mar 19)
    • First Palestinian prime minister sworn in (Apr 29)
    • Massachusetts Supreme Court ruled in favor of gay marriage (Nov 18)
    • Sadaam Hussein captured (Dec 19)
  • 2004
    • Enron CFO admits being bad (Jan 13)
    • Al-Qaeda terrorist attacks in Spain  (Mar 11)
    • Abu Gharib scandal photos released (Apr 30)
    • Chechen terrorists take over school, killing 340 in total (Sept 1-3)
    • Christmas tsunami caused by a 9.3 magnitude earthquake kills an estimated 225,000 (Dec 26)
  • 2005
    • Mahmoud Abbas wins presidency of the Palestinian Authority (Jan 9)
    • Saudi men are allowed to vote in municipal elections (Feb 10)
    • Pope John Paul II died (Apr 2)
    • Benedict XVI becomes the Pope (Apr 24)
    • Mahmoud Ahmadinejad wins Iranian presidential election (June 24)
    • Sandra Day O'Connor retires from the US Supreme Court (July 1)
    • London hit by terrorist attacks (July 7)
    • Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) signed (Aug 2)
    • Hurricane Katrina hits the Gulf Coast killing more than 1000 people and leaving many more homeless (Aug 25-30)
    • Angela Merkel becomes Germany's first female chancellor (Oct  10)
  • 2006
    • John Boehner is elected House Majority leader and most likely to be orange (Feb 2)
    • I graduated from high school with honors and a full International Baccalaureate diploma (June)
    • We move to Wisconsin (Aug) and I get my first job at the end of the month and start college with Sophomore standing (Sept)
    • My sister Ella was born
    • South African parliament votes to legalize same sex marriage (Nov 14)
    • Gerald Ford dies at age 93 (Dec 26)
  • 2007
    • Virginia Tech massacre (Apr 16)
    • The transition of Northern Ireland to self-rule takes final steps (May 8)
    • After several months of fighting and other issues, Palestinian president Abbas dismantles much of the government and declares a state of emergency (June 14)
    • Bush vetoes a bill that would've eased restrictions on stem cell research (June 20)
    • A bridge in Minnesota collapses while full of cars, killing 13 (Aug 1)
    • I start dating Theron (Sept 19 + 20)
In the last seven years, several new treatments for rheumatic diseases have come out from Ilaris to Actemra to Orencia and more. Several of those are FDA approved to treat SJIA specifically. We've also discovered that aggressive treatment within the first 6-9 months of diagnosis yields the best chances for remission.