The back of the T-shirt that Adrienne Liszka got at a national conference in Denver reminds, "Kids get arthritis too."
The 10-year-old Westminster resident knew that long before she was selected to represent the Arthritis Foundation's Maryland chapter at the American Juvenile Arthritis Organization's annual conference in July. She was feeling the effects of arthritis before she was old enough to know what the word meant.
Adrienne, a fifth-grader at Robert Moton Elementary School, is the daughter of Doug and Nancy Mott. Mr. Mott is a technical adviser for Diebold Inc., Mrs. Mott a customer service manager for Pagenet.
Having arthritis means Adrienne sometimes has trouble getting out of bed in the morning. It means her knees bend a little too much. She has to take special gym classes. She can't run, and hopping is difficult. She takes folic acid to keep her other medicines from upsetting her stomach, an anti-inflammatory medicine.
But having arthritis doesn't mean she can't swim or ride her bike or talk on the telephone or draw. It doesn't mean she can't bring home A's and B's from school. And her wrist didn't even hurt when she went from printing to handwriting last year.
The family has been active in Arthritis Foundation activities, and Adrienne has represented Maryland in the foundation's annual fund-raising telethon for the last four years. When a state chapter representative asked whether the family would like a scholarship to attend the national American Juvenile Arthritis Organization conference, Mrs. Mott said yes.
The conference attracted about 700 people, including parents, children with arthritis and medical experts. At sessions with children in her age group, Adrienne learned "about what kids have arthritis and what types."
She observed that girls' knees and hands seem to be frequent targets of the disease and that many have polyarticular arthritis, with more than five joints involved, as she does.
Arthritis tends to affect boys in the hips and backs. "You look at their knees and hands and nothing is swelled," Adrienne said.
Mrs. Mott said she thinks the most important thing Adrienne learned at the conference was that she's "not the only little girl with arthritis." Juvenile arthritis affects approximately 200,000, the foundation says.
Mrs. Mott's involvement began when Adrienne developed a swollen, hot, red knee at the age of 18 months. She took her daughter to a local hospital, where the disease was tentatively diagnosed, then to Akron Children's Hospital in Ohio, where the diagnosis was confirmed. Mrs. Mott and Adrienne's birth father were living in Ohio at the time.
The doctors put Adrienne on 21 aspirin a day. Later, they gave her gold injections, which her mother recalls as very painful for the child. Over the years, the arthritis spread from one knee to other joints.
Adrienne has had orthopedic therapy but is not currently in therapy. She said last week that she was excited about the possibility of going to the 1994 juvenile arthritis conference.