Trips to the Detroit Zoo have been a long-standing tradition in our house. We’ve held membership privileges at the zoo since my son Andy was 2 years old. He’s just always loved nature, especially animals, and he’s a trivia buff when it comes to that subject.
Case in point: In the third grade, Andy was tested for an Individualized Education Program based on his health. He couldn’t pass a brain test where he was asked to name as many animals as he could think of in 60 seconds. Why did he fail? He wanted to search his brain for just the right animals. Dogs and cats were just too generic. My kid chose: naked mole rat, red panda, leafy sea dragon, vampire bat, tapir, and aye-aye. The proctor did everything he could not to laugh.
But not everything that centered around the zoo brought a smile to our faces. When Andy was just 2 and a half, my husband and I took the boy on an outing to his favorite place on earth – the zoo.
As the day grew longer and Andy’s little legs started to tire, I picked him up and carried him on my shoulders. After about 10 minutes or so, I put him down to give my own back a break. Andy’s knees immediately buckled, and he dropped to the ground.
Tears streamed down his face as he screamed. These were not screams of a 2-year-old throwing a tantrum, but rather screams of our little boy in extreme pain.
I look back at photos from that time period and can clearly see a skinny child with swollen knees. With Andy’s easygoing personality and the fact that he never complained of pain directly, it’s easy to see why we overlooked what was right in front of us. At his young age, we weren’t looking for signs of psoriatic arthritis. After all, children don’t get arthritis, right? Wrong!
Kids do get arthritis. Kids do get psoriasis. And Andy is one of the lucky few with both.
Jaime M., mother