James Casserly (12) was diagnosed just before his ninth birthday in December 2014. James is in fifth class and lives in Dublin with his parents and his little 2-year-old brother, Tom (more affectionately known as Tornado Tom).
James presented with stiffness, hot joints, lethargy and loss of movement. His parents grew to learn that James lived with pain, which he felt was ‘normal’, so he did not always report his symptoms, which were mostly pain.
What keeps the family going is that they manage James’ symptoms as best as they can, with a very supportive team and family behind them. What keeps them going is mostly that James is still a 12-year-old little boy, who loves doing 12-year-old boy activities.
Whilst hospital and medications can feel like they often take over, they just live day-to-day like any other family.
Focusing on ability is key. You find ability in disability, which is a positive and not a negative, says James’ mum, Vicki. His parents try to encourage James to embrace his strengths and instil confidence in him. They like to adventure. James is an avid marathon runner in an assisted wheelchair and enjoys participating in the school’s cross country programme. Vicki feels that if they allowed negativity surrounding living with arthritis to impact them day to day, it would make the challenge that bit more difficult.
James has up and down days, but he’s a little boy who just loves life.
James would love everyone to know that although it is hard sometimes, mostly when he has to miss school, there is always a way to do things. Trust in your ability is his message.