Military Special Needs Network

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Guest Blog: Arthritis….Not Just An Old Person’s Disease

Michael-Logan Jordan, age 14 and a Marine Corps military dependent, was diagnosed with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis at age 3.  Because of his disabilities, he suffers with a lot of pain, sees multiple specialists, takes numerous medications, and has had many surgeries.  But Michael-Logan has not allowed his diagnoses to hold him down. This young man is changing the face of Arthritis and is blazing the trail for advocacy.  At the ripe age of 14, Michael-Logan has already accomplished so many things:  he’s a dedicated volunteer for the Arthritis Foundation, Toys for Tots, and various community organizations.  He is a blogger and published author, school peer mediator, and has one many prestigious awards..  

Did you know that Arthritis is the #1 disabling disease in America? There are over 100 different types of arthritis (closer to 200) and there are new types being discovered every day. Over 50 million Americans have doctor documented Arthritis. 300,000 are children. That’s right, kids get arthritis, too!

Did you know that Arthritis affects more children than juvenile diabetes, cystic fibrosis and muscular dystrophy combined? I am the face of Arthritis. My brother is the face of Arthritis. My mom is the face of Arthritis. I bet you know someone who is the face of arthritis.

My journey began when I was a baby. I never crawled, but started walking at 10 months…with a limp. I spiked high fevers but never had any symptoms to go along with the fevers. I had seizures due to the fevers. I had warm, red, swollen joints that were painful to touch. I had unexplained rashes. However the doctors kept telling my mom that I had a viral infection…the seizures were due to high fevers. My mom knew something was wrong. When I was 2, I totally stopped walking for a year and cried in pain. She took me to a Pediatric Rheumatologist that worked at her hospital. I was diagnosed with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis…Polyarticular (affecting more than 8 joints) and Systemic (affecting my entire body-especially my organs).  Several years later I was diagnosed with Ehler’s Danlos Syndrome (a connective tissue disorder).

I have been on many medications for my disease-infusions of biologics, steroids, methotrexate (chemo), injections, etc.  I’ve had surgeries. I do physical therapy. I have had special diets (gluten free). I have tried massage therapy, acupuncture and visualization techniques.

My Mom gave me the best advice at a very early age. She said “Logan, you can choose to control this disease or you can let it control you. Those are your only 2 options”. I’ve never known a life without pain. Every day (sometimes every hour on the bad days) I choose to control my disease. I educate, advocate and donate so that 1 day we may Eliminate Arthritis.

I have learned to be my own best advocate (and even an advocate for others). I’m well versed in 504s, I speak openly about my disease, healthy eating habits, anti-bullying and Let’s Move Together campaigns. At the age of 13, I addressed Congress about my disease, the need for more pediatric rheumatologists (currently there are 12 states that do not have any), the need for access to life saving arthritis medications for everyone (especially adding these meds to the formulary within the DOD) and the need to remove any co-payments associated with these medications.

In July I had the opportunity to attend the National Juvenile Arthritis Conference in Anaheim, CA. I was honored to mentor other kids like me, speak about the importance of advocating (I have a great relationship with my Representatives and Senators) and to address the National Board of Directors.

Every year my family and I celebrate World Arthritis Awareness Day with a week of festivities at our schools and in our communities. This year I am hosting an Arthritis Awareness Health Fair at my High School. Students will learn about the different types of arthritis, exercises that help keep those joints moving and activities to help them understand a day in the life of someone with arthritis. This is also our kick off to collect donations for the Arthritis Foundation.  My team (Logan’s Heroes) has collected and donated over $70,000 over the past 5 years.

I identify with the Honu (the Hawaiian green sea turtle). The honu is awkward on land but graceful in the water. I might be awkward on land, walking with a cane at times, but I am graceful in all that I do. I might not be a professional basketball player (even though my name is Michael-Jordan), but I AM Michael-Logan Jordan-Arthritis Ambassador, Advocate and Philanthropist. I AM THE FACE OF ARTHRITIS!

For more information on arthritis please go to www.arthritis.org.

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