Zoe has juvenile idiopathic arthritis rheumatoid factor positive. This affects her feet, legs and hands. She also has fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome. This combination of conditions makes her extremely tired.
Zoe is 15 years old and was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis when she was 11 years old. She first started noticing something was wrong when painful bunions appeared on her feet. Her big toes curved and the joints pointed outwards. Zoe’s mum took her to see a podiatrist who made special insoles for her shoes. Zoe said that these did not help. Zoe and her mum visited several doctors but nobody knew why Zoe had bunions. Finally, Zoe and her mum visited a specialist hospital. After blood tests, an MRI scan and an ultrasound scan a doctor diagnosed Zoe as having arthritis.
Zoe’s arthritis progressed to other parts of her body as she got older. She now experiences aches and pains in her feet, legs and hands too. In the mornings Zoe’s legs feel as if they are welded to the bed. They feel very heavy and she has difficulties moving them. Sometimes it can take several hours before Zoe’s legs are back to normal. Zoe’s condition is made more complicated because she has fibromyalgia which makes her muscles ache. She also has chronic fatigue which makes her very tired throughout the day. At one point the doctors thought Zoe had anorexia because she had difficulties eating and lost lots of weight.
With all of these conditions together Zoe can be lethargic and lack energy. She sometimes goes to bed when she comes home from school and doesn’t wake up until she has to go to school the next day. When Zoe was at her worst she missed six weeks of school because of the pain in her legs. Doctors have said that Zoe can have the bunions on her feet surgically removed when she has stopped developing. They are also keen to try new medication in the future.
Zoe is into alternative fashion and likes to stand out from the crowd. She is a girl gamer and listens to rock. She describes herself having colourful character and wants to help raise awareness of the realities of juvenile arthritis. She recommends that people who are depressed and self-harming should visit the website Six Billion Secrets.