Wednesday, August 9, 2017

The National Juvenile Arthritis Conference (Indianapolis)

      Hi friends!

      As many of you already know, April was a hard month for me. I officially decided to transfer from Tulane University to UNC Chapel Hill, the result of severe medical challenges I experienced during my year in New Orleans. I then had to deal with revealing that decision to, well, everyone. At the same time, I was trying to finish up my first year of college, prepare for exams, love my friends as well as possible, and attend countless medical appointments.

      Despite all of the rough waters April threw me into, I also received wonderful news that I have not yet publicly shared on my blog: I was offered a scholarship from the Arthritis Foundation to attend the National Juvenile Arthritis Conference in Indianapolis!

       I have attended the conference twice before, once in St. Louis, Missouri and once in Anaheim, California, but it has been several years since I last went and this will be my first time being in the Young Adult group. Tomorrow, I will be traveling to Indiana to meet hundreds of people with similar health challenges and experiences. I am so, SO excited to be in the company of people who "get it," especially after having such a difficult year, and I am looking forward to all of the friendships that I know will stem out of the conference.

       Almost all of my friends at home are healthy and able-bodied, so hanging out with other people who live with chronic pain and know the rheumatology lingo seems like such a comfort at the moment, especially since the last year has forced me to make difficult decisions surrounding my health and, frankly, my life. I cannot express enough how lucky I feel to have the opportunity to make friends who can say, "I understand completely," and mean it.

     I am very grateful to the Arthritis Foundation for covering my flights, hotel, and registration fee, and for their willingness to organize programs like these that bring people together and make living with arthritis as a kid a little bit easier. I am genuinely looking forward to connecting with everyone else who will be there. If you are attending the Indianapolis conference, make sure to send me a message so we can meet up sometime. I would love to hang out with you and hear your story!

     Here is to a weekend of friendship, health, motivation, advocacy, honesty, and understanding. Thank you all for your support!

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