Schoolboy arthritis sufferer puts tough year behind him

Eilidh and Jacob Ellwood from Eyemouth who will be raising money for SNAC
Eilidh and Jacob Ellwood from Eyemouth who will be raising money for SNAC

Arthritis is commonly associated with the elderly, but one in 10,000 children are affected by a strain of the condition - Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis.

“Juvenile means it’s for kids, and Idiopathic means they don’t know what causes it,” explains nine-year-old Eyemouth sufferer Jake Ellwood.

Jacob Ellwood had his leg in plaster from his ankle to his thigh, after an operation to treat JIA.

Jacob Ellwood had his leg in plaster from his ankle to his thigh, after an operation to treat JIA.

“JIA is pretty much when the white blood cells in my body get a bit excited and start attacking my joints. Then I have a flare up which makes them stiff and sore.”

Jake was diagnosed with the condition in October, following months of pain and worry.

His mum Eilidh says: “Last summer we started to notice that he was hobbling around, then one day on the beach he was playing football with his friends and he was really limping. We took him to the doctor and spent three months going backwards and forwards to the BGH trying to find out what was wrong.”

By the time Jake was 
diagnosed his right knee was swollen to twice the size of his left one.

He was sent to the Royal Sick Kids in Edinburgh, where he had an operation and intensive physio in an attempt to straighten his badly affected leg.

More hard work followed during weekly physio and hydropool sessions at the BGH. Then, in February, just as Jake’s right knee was getting better, he suffered another blow. “His leg will never be completely normal, but he was just getting back to normal when he had a flare up in the other knee,” says 
Eilidh.

Another operation followed with ongoing intensive physio, and Jake was prescribed nasty-tasting chemotherapy-based medication. “Jake’s never ever complained,” Eilidh says. “He’s been fab.”

Thankfully, Jake is now in remission, and he and his family want to give something back to SNAC (Scottish Network for Athritis in Children) – a charity that supports families of children affected by arthritis. It really helped the Ellwoods.

“It was a tough year, but we know what we’re dealing with now,” Eilidh says.

“We really want to give something back to SNAC because the support they provided for us was invaluable.

“We went to a big family awareness weekend they had at Crieff Hydro in April which was brilliant. It was very informative and gave Jake the opportunity to meet other children with JIA.

“It cost £17,000 for SNAC to put it on, and we decided we would try and at least give our share back, and raise awareness of the condition at the same time.”

Eilidh has arranged a swimathon in aid of SNAC at Eyemouth swimming pool from 2pm on Saturday (July 4), when she, Jake, and around 15 of their friends and family will attempt to swim a mile each.

“I want to say a big thank you to our friends and family, especially all those taking part in Swimathon and helping poolside. Thanks also to Henry Gray for the use of the swimming pool and

local businesses for their very kind raffle donations,” Eilidh says.

She is also very grateful to Wavedancer and The Home Arms Guest House, who have sponsored special Swimathon for SNAC t-shirts, and Zoe at the Hairbar has contributed her tips since April to the cause.

“I must also thank Jake’s Granny Alison for all her help and support; his physios Jamie and Lynn for all their hard work since October when Jake was diagnosed; his PE teacher Mrs Henry; and Dr Jo Walsh from the Sick Kids Hospital.

“And finally SNAC for all their help and support and allowing us to attend the most informative weekend at Crieff Hydro and giving Jake the opportunity to meet other children with JIA,” she adds.

The Swimathon will starts at Eyemouth Swimming Pool at 2pm on Saturday, July 6. There will be a raffle and home baking stalls.

“We’d love people to come down on the day and support us,” Eilidh says.