Genoa Township resident Harrison Strader, 8, began experiencing aches that were easily dismissed as typical “growing pains.” Falling had become increasingly common but was attributed to a lack of coordination, that is until fluid in his knees prevented him from straightening his legs. Examining the joint revealed swollen knees and brought a surge of fear for his parents, Adam and Leslie Strader, when they realized something more serious was occurring.
A flurry of doctor appointments, imaging, and blood tests finally led to a diagnosis of oligoarticular juvenile idiopathic arthritis.
The first few weeks after his diagnosis were clouded by worry, but Harrison’s family quickly found solace in the Arthritis Foundation along with the Delaware Public Health District through the Children with Medical Handicaps program.
Delaware Public Health District nurse Jody Lenko was assigned as a point of contact for the family to help connect them with resources to help Harrison thrive.
“The doctor sent notice of disability to the state of Ohio, and we received a folder of information in the mail that I didn’t think applied to us, so I ignored it,” said Leslie Strader. “Seeing the word handicap was jarring, and I hadn’t thought of his condition in that way.”
A short time later, Lenko called explaining the contents of the folder and the ways the health district would help guide the family through making sure Harrison would be equipped with the resources he needed.
“One of the resources Harrison enjoyed most was having a nutritionist visit him at home to discuss the role food can play in his condition,” added Leslie Strader.
This year, Harrison was selected to serve as youth honoree of the Walk to Cure Arthritis on April 29 at the Columbus Zoo — giving added significance to the one-year anniversary of Harrison’s diagnosis.
“With the help of doctors, medication, physical therapy, a positive attitude, the Arthritis Foundation, and the Delaware Public Health District, Harrison is back to being a typical fourth grader,” Leslie Strader said. “He is most serious about tennis and guitar, but also enjoyed golfing and playing soccer in the fall and rides his bike as often as the weather allows.”
To learn how a health district public health nurse can provide assistance to families who have a child with a special health care need, visit DelawareHealth.org/cmh or call (740) 203-2040.
Submitted by the Delaware Public Health District.