CENTER, TX (KTRE) - Spending time on the softball diamond is always a fun activity for many kids, but for Jaelyn Crawford, playing on a softball team was almost unattainable.
Last year, the 9-year-old Center girl started to have problems in her joints.
"It got to where she couldn't walk and so that's when we started taking her to doctors and they ran all kinds of blood tests and at first we really couldn't figure out what it was then her knees were swelling," said Rachel Crawford, Jaelyn's mom.
Sprinting and even batting was completely out of the question as Jaelyn struggled with even the most simple activities like taking a bath.
"I would have to get up and put her in the bathtub and once she got into some water she was able to get up and walk a little bit, but it just took a long time," said Rachel Crawford.
Jaelyn says the experience was scary.
"When I tried to get up, I would end up falling and I don't know how, it just really hurt. It hurt badly," said Jaelyn Crawford. "It just got a hold of me. I didn't know what was going to happen. It just really scared me."
Frightened—Jaelyn's parents, Rachel and Josh, took her to a doctor in Nacogdoches where they were told the worst.
"That first weekend that we went to the doctor and the first, I guess, diagnosis was you know just at a quick glance, it could've been anything from flat feet, and they mentioned lupus also," said Josh Crawford. "That was one of the hardest, one of the worst weekends we've ever had in our lives. The whole weekend we did research after research on lupus…and it just scared us to death."
Lupus erythematosus is an autoimmune disease where the immune system attacks normal tissues causing inflammation. There are several different types of lupus, but it can be fatal.
Yet, after a brutal and scary weekend, the family found out Jaelyn had juvenile arthritis.
"When I figured out I first had arthritis I didn't know what I was going to do and it made me scared that I couldn't do what I could do now," said Jaelyn Crawford.
Rachel Crawford says the doctor told them children can get juvenile arthritis from having strep throat or even a flu virus. She says she doesn't remember Jaelyn ever having either virus, but is just thankful juvenile arthritis is curable thanks to medicine.
"We're beginning to see the ending, but it could still be a year and a half before she's done. But you know, even if it's the fact that it's something we have to deal with, we'll deal with it because I mean, it's livable," said Rachel Crawford.
Josh Crawford adds that he is thankful that Jaelyn will be able to recover.
"There was no doubt in her mind that she wanted to play softball again, you know? So, that's where we are and now she has high goals and is not turning back," said Josh Crawford.
Jaelyn says she specifically plays between first and second base and had a blast this season. She is also looking forward to playing softball again next year.
"I feel good," said Jaelyn Crawford.
Rachel Crawford says once Jaelyn recovers she will be cured, but is more susceptible to adult arthritis.
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