Dubai, UAE: Pankaj Raina regrets that juvenile rheumatoid arthritis has robbed Ranveer, his seven-year-old son, of much of his childhood.
After spending years in and out of hospitals, Ranveer still cannot play with his friends and take part in sports.
His parents fear that he could pick up an infection because his immune system has been compromised by the disorder.
Mr Raina and his wife noticed something was wrong with Ranveer when he was three years old.
“It all started in the summer holidays. He started getting fevers up to 104 degrees,” said Mr Raina, a financial adviser in Dubai. “He would be absolutely lifeless and he would not have the strength in his body to do any activity at all.
“He would be sleeping all the time and complaining of pain. Because he was three he was not very good at expressing himself. So we did not understand and know what was happening with him.”
That began a 12-month period when Ranveer was visiting hospitals in Dubai and India as doctors struggled to find out what was causing his fevers and muscle aches.
It was a paediatric rheumatologist in India who finally determined that Ranveer had juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. Ranveer subsequently began receiving treatment in Dubai.
As a result of his weakened immune system, however, Ranveer developed a severe septic hip infection. “It was touch and go,” said Mr Raina. “He almost lost his hip. It was that serious.”
The boy stayed in hospital for two-and-a-half months and had two operations.
Even after his recovery, he had to spend two years away from school. Ranveer’s studies suffered as a result. When he was finally allowed to return to school, he had to study with classmates two years his junior.
“On the exterior there are not many symptoms, so people do not realise the severity of what he has,” said Mr Raina.
Mr Raina also regrets that Ranveer is more socially awkward than his peers because of his condition. “You cannot make friends if you don’t play with them,” he said.
Ranveer has also gained an excessive amount of weight from taking steroids to suppress the arthritis.
“It can be very frustrating as a parent of a child with juvenile arthritis,” Mr Raina said about witnessing his youngest son’s suffering, especially as Ranveer has a healthy elder brother.
© The NationalMay 2015