4State in Focus

Teen living with chronic pain hopes to share story and help raise awareness

Rosenberg was the Arthritis Foundation's youth honoree at the Jingle Bell Run

FREDERICK COUNTY, Md. - A Frederick County, Md. teen is using her chronic pain to help others who may not have been diagnosed, in hopes of raising awareness.

For the past three years, Ella Rosenberg, 13, has been living with chronic pain.

"Physically, it was painful," she said. "But mentally, it was even more painful - because no one really knew what was really going wrong with me."

The pain started when she was just eight - starting from her ankles, moving to her knees.

"It seemed like no one else had the pain that I was having, and no one else had the problems that I was having," Ella said. "So overall, it was a struggle."

The pain progressed to her neck, and even a trip to Disney World could not fix this little girl's pain.

"It was right around her birthday, and she was so uncomfortable that she was crying at night that she did not want to go to the parks the next day," said her mother, Linda Rosenberg. "Her feet hurt so badly. Her knees hurt, her back hurt, her neck hurt. That is when we really started to thinking, 'what is going on?'"

After months of testing, Ella's doctors finally diagnosed her with something they said kids rarely get - arthritis.

"Even though juvenile arthritis is bigger than that, it was kind of both - to think that there might be other people who have this disease, then 'oh, I have to deal with this disease now," Ella said.

After the diagnosis, she went through a rough patch.

"It made me feel upset, because I can not do the things that I want to," she said.

Ella had to stop playing some of her favorite sports, like lacrosse and soccer, and trying to keep up with her classmates and friends.

"You cannot go hang out with your friends every night," she said. "You cannot go to sleepovers, because you cannot sleep on the floor with hurting your back. It is more the mental issues than the pain."

Ella's juvenile arthritis is controlled with medication, even though she continues to have chronic pain. But in the middle of it all, she found a purpose.

"She went through a really bad flare-up last year, and she said to me, 'you know mom, maybe I am made to help people,'" her mother remembered. "And I said, 'if that is what you want to do, that is great."

From restaurant nights to yard sales, Ella wanted to help raise awareness to help the Arthritis Foundation.

"The Arthritis Foundation is amazing - because to me, they have helped me find so many other people who have had arthritis, and find this amazing group of friends and supportive people," Ella said.

She hopes to inspire others by living her best life, with a big smile on her face.

"It made me want to raise money and awareness for other people who may be struggling to find out what their disease is, and they don't even know it yet," Ella added.

Ella was the Arthritis Foundation's youth honoree at this year's Jingle Bell Run, and hopes to continue to raise money for the foundation.

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