Seeking Normality

Senior Chloe Heiny discusses her battle with arthritis 

As Chloe Heiny walks around the track, classmates race past to finish the mile. Hair pulled back, gym shorts on, she struggles to make her way to the finish. Gym class had always been a struggle for Heiney. Since the age of one, Heiny suffered from excruciating pain in her left hip.

Like many kids, Heiny longed to participate in sports activities, specifically soccer but with the pain in her hip and doctors not knowing what was wrong, her mother never let her. Doctors discovered that Heiny suffered from juvenile arthritis, a disease that causes joint inflammation stiffness for more than six weeks in a child under the age of 16.

“[Not being able to play sports] always made me feel a little like an outcast,” Heiny said. “Most people have been in sports their whole life or at least played when they were younger, and I can’t relate to them.”

Throughout the years, Heiny has undergone physical therapy as well as taken many different types of medication. In fifth grade, Heiny started giving herself shots at least once a week to help control the pain.

“I’m currently not on medication,” Heiny said. “My doctors are doing a trial and error to see if my juvenile arthritis has progressed into osteoarthritis, which occurs when flexible tissue at the ends of the bones wears down.”

Simple everyday activities such as walking from class to class and going up and down stairs were a constant struggle.

“It was hard because things such as walking or standing for long periods of time were hard for me,” Heiny said. “I was always walking slower than the other kids or having to take frequent stops.”

Although Heiny has struggled with this her most of her life, she has found ways to overcome the disease, for example finding a job and joining yearbook to live her everyday life as normal as it can be. Story and photo by Lilyan Wray. 

Hands crossed, senior Chloe Heiny smiles as she reflects on her battle with arthritis.