Young arthritis sufferer endures teasing at school
There’s nothing worse for a sporty boy than to sit on the bench, especially if his friends tease him about an injury they cannot see.
Tawa boy Cameron Kuiper, 10, suffered for two months with a painful arthritic knee last year, taking sports off the agenda and worse, attracting flak from classmates.
Cameron woke up one morning last September with a left knee swollen to the size of a grapefruit. He had been playing soccer the day before and the family thought he had been injured during the game.
But doctors were so concerned they kept Cameron in hospital for two nights and he was on crutches for seven weeks before being diagnosed with arthritis.
Once the swelling went down it wasn’t clear to Cameron’s Adventure School friends why he needed special treatment, he said.
‘‘They started teasing me because I sat on a chair, not on the mat.’’
Soccer, ball tag and rugby were also out of the question.
A steroid injection under general anaesthetic sorted the pain out before Christmas, but it could flare up again any time in Cameron’s knees or elbows, his mother Kirsty Glasgow said.
Arthritis is an autoimmune disease usually associated with the elderly but 100 Kiwi kids have it too. There is no known cause. ‘‘He did have a really hard time at school for six or seven weeks,’’ Mrs Glasgow said. ‘‘One of the hardest things for me, and him, was knowing how his friends were treating him. Just because you can’t see anything doesn’t mean there isn’t anything wrong.’’
Cameron and Mrs Glasgow are going to Matamata on April 5 for an Arthritis New Zealand camp and workshop.
The 31 children attending will be able to do fun activities like archery, go-karting and flying fox, while parents will learn more about how to manage their child’s arthritis.
Cameron is looking forward to meeting children with similar experiences.
‘‘I can ask them if they got teased,’’ he said.
Cameron and his mother’s travel expenses were funded by the Jetstar Flying Start Programme.
Back in the game: Tawa boy Cameron Kuiper is back doing what he loves best, kicking a ball around, after suffering an arthritic episode last year. He will meet other children with arthritis at a camp next month.