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Drummonds child named walk honoree

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When four-year-old Bradyn Lorimer wakes up in the morning, she is stiff and it hurts to move. The first thing she does is eat, because she has to take her medicine with food. She doesn’t like eating so early in the morning, but the medicine makes her stomach upset, so it’s something she has learned she must do.

There are mornings that she has to soak in a hot bath for 45 minutes to an hour to be able to work out the pain. She will sit in the tub, after breakfast, and wait for the warmth to help her eventually limp that day.

Bradyn Lorimer’s mother, Michelle, laughs with the lilt of someone who is trying to make light of a difficult situation. It’s still hard to talk about, she says, admitting it’s the most challenging thing they’ve been through as a family.

“There have been a lot of doctor’s appointments, and a whole lot of praying. And now, we’re looking at moving Bradyn to a type of chemotherapy to try to get this in remission. She’s four years old and I’m deciding whether or not to put poison in her little body.”

Bradyn has Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis.

This has changed their lives. Diagnosed at three years old, the symptoms started 14 months ago, when Bradyn started limping on her right leg after church one Sunday. The little girl’s foot and ankle were swollen. After several weeks, numerous doctors’ visits and tests, the family finally received the diagnosis.

You don’t think about children having arthritis. According to the Arthritis Foundation, the word “arthritis” literally means joint inflammation, but also can involve the eyes, skin and gastrointestinal tract. Bradyn’s type is the most common.

There are days when Bradyn can’t walk at all. She has had nosebleeds due to medications, and not too long ago, her nose bled for more than two hours and required an emergency trip to LeBoheur and a different prescription.

Rheumatologist, ophthalmologist, pediatrician – there have been so many doctors’ visits since last year, too many to count, says Michelle.

“You never know if the eye appointment will be okay, because there are no symptoms and, if not treated, the inflammation can cause blindness, “said Michelle. “We have to go very regularly to the ophthalmologist.”

The eye drops normally used after cataract surgery help to relieve inflammation and it is not uncommon to her to need the drops eight times in a day. JIA is an autoimmune disease, and Michelle says a bad case of the croup triggered the disease in Bradyn. Bradyn will never outgrow this diagnosis and Michelle says that the best they can hope for is remission.

“If we can find the right medication, perhaps we can get her into remission,” she said. “We haven’t found it yet. Because my husband is self-employed, most of the doctor’s appointments are on me. I homeschool our nine-year-old, so she goes with us. She helps a lot with Bradyn. This disease has changed the family’s dynamics.”

Just before Bradyn became sick, since the family was healthy, the Lorimers decided to drop their high premium insurance policy and, instead, opted for a high-deductible, high out-of-pocket maximum. Ironically, in February, 2013, this new chapter of their lives began.

“We are on a payment plan with different hospitals from last year’s expenses,” admits Lorimer. “They have been so good to us. Bradyn now has her own insurance policy. She still has a $1,500 deductible to meet and only gets 20 physical therapy visits a year, so I’ve had to mindfully use them. We can’t go every week anymore, because we’d use up the visits too soon and we can’t afford it. All in all, we’ve been very blessed.”

The Drummonds family changed policies this year and now pay as much for Bradyn’s stand-alone policy as they do for the three of them, but the deductible is less. Although unusual, Bradyn is not the only child in Tipton County suffering with JIA. According to Michelle, another child, currently eight or nine- years old was diagnosed at five years old. That child now has to give herself shots daily. Michelle says she realizes Bradyn will probably get to that point.

This year, Bradyn is the junior honoree for the 2014 Walk to Cure Arthritis, in Memphis, which takes place in Shelby Farms Park on June 7.The junior honoree not only helps to create awareness about juvenile arthritis but also is tasked with fundraising for the foundation. This year’s goal is $3,500 and, in order to achieve that, Bradyn has attended a kick-off luncheon, a breakfast with business executives and will be at a tent for the foundation this weekend at Atoka’s Barbeque Festival. Additionally, Papa John’s in Atoka is hosting an event for her on Thursday night and the Munford Fire Department will have a pancake breakfast on May 10.

“The community has been very supportive,” said Michelle. “There’s not one business we’ve talked to that has turned us away. It’s been really fun and a great experience. Several businesses have already donated for the silent auction and the local businesses have been very good to us. We feel so grateful to have this opportunity to raise awareness for JIA in this community.”

To follow Brayden’s FB page, go to www.facebook.com/BradynLorimerJuvenileArthritis or for more information about childhood arthritis, go to www.arthritis.org.

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