David has had twenty-seven operations in twenty-three years – the main ones including knee and hip replacement, leg straightening and spinal fusion. This meant that he has missed a great deal of schooling but he has always been determined to continue with his education. He finished his GCSE’s, did his A’ levels and has recently finished his university degree.
David has lived with arthritis most of his life. He was diagnosed when he was two years old and was put on steroids. Twenty-two years later he is still on steroids – a fact he finds distressing – but as he explains – it is because his arthritis is not getting any better. As a child he remembers having very high temperatures and being unable to moved. During his childhood and teen years he was in and out of hospital on a regular basis. There is no history of juvenile arthritis in the family but both his grandparents had developed it later in life.
David says that because he developed arthritis at such a young age his growth, bones and muscles have all been affected by arthritis. David cannot walk far and when going out needs to use a wheelchair.
David has had twenty-seven operations in twenty-three years – the main ones including knee and hip replacement, legs straightening and spinal fusion. This has meant that he has missed a great deal of schooling but he has always been determined to continue with his education. He finished his GCSE’s, did his A-levels and has recently finished his university degree. He admits that it was hard catching up with his school work after weeks or months in hospital but he was determined to do it. He says that disabled people find it particularly hard to find employment and therefore, he understood that he needed all his qualifications in order to improve his chances of finding a good job.
When he was on holiday with his family in the USA he became very ill and almost died. David refers to this episode as a turning point in his life. For instance, he says that during his school years he was shy and lacked in confidence and did not get involved in many activities. After his ‘near death’ experience and at university he became more confident and developed a very good group of friends and enjoyed student social life like everyone else.
David says that his family have always been there for him and that he probably is closer to his parents than most 23 year olds, but also emphasises the fact that he is older now and in control of how he chooses to live. He manages his own medication, hospital appointments and because his home is fitted with special devices, he is able to do most things for himself, like having a shower, opening doors, etc. However, he is restricted to how much he can lift and therefore can’t do certain things like cooking. He values his independence very much and ‘hates asking for help. An example of this is that he stopped using socks sometime ago because he cannot put them on himself and prefers to go without rather than asking for help. David says he will ask for help but only when absolutely essential.