Fed Ex driver is dubbed an unsung hero by Sparta mom
Posted By Kim Swindell Wood | February 10, 2020 3:37 pm
A Fed Ex driver simply known as “Jeremy” has taken social media and numerous news outlets by storm as he went about his daily deliveries, but, on a particular day last week, he proved that heavy rain and extreme flooding conditions would not stop him from delivering a lifesaving drug to a White County teenager.
Heidi Sloan, whose two children, Hannah Sloan, 15, and Jake Sloan, 17, both have Systemic Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis, said she was expecting a delivery of a medication, via Fed Ex, that costs $8,000 and must be delivered cold and within a short time frame.
“Hannah’s body depends on this medication,” said Heidi.
The road to Heidi’s home was completely flooded and impassable. She said Jeremy and his Fed Ex supervisor called her, and they brainstormed about how he could deliver the medication.
“He [Jeremy] went the extra mile,” said Heidi. “He drove his truck as far and safe as he could possibly go, and we met him with a kayak ready to retrieve the meds. No cars could possibly drive over the [flooded] bridge.”
Heidi said both of her children were diagnosed the SJIA at an early age: Hannah at two-and-a half years old and Jake at age 7.
“Jake had a delayed diagnosis … when he had joint pain inflammation in most of his joints with fevers,” said Heidi Sloan. “Jake and Hannah have been aggressively treated since diagnosis and have never been in remission or been able to wean treatments. They have been on most all biologics available for children and often combined treatments with two biologics.”
Heidi said this type of auto-inflammatory disease affects not only joints but also internal organs.
“Without these medications, Jake and Hannah are at a much higher risk for MAS [Macrophage Activation Syndrome], which is a life- threatening complication of SJIA,” said Heidi. “It’s basically an inflammatory response that overwhelms the entire body and attacks the heart, liver, spleen, and kidneys. MAS can come on very quickly and be fatal. These very expensive biologic medications Jake and Hannah take are necessary to try to manage the disease. Without these medications, the risk of their bodies flaring and the unknown is very frightening to Jake and Hannah and our family.
“They both had a port for eight years as they received their biologic medications through their ports [intravenously],” said Heidi. “Traveling out of state to specialists who treat autoinflammatory diseases is necessary as there is a nationwide shortage of pediatric rheumatologists. With advancement in medications, these specialty biologic medications are now available in shots. Jake takes a daily shot, kineret. Hannah takes a weekly shot, actemra. Both of these medications are vital in managing their SJIA.”
Heidi said that to look at Jake and Hannah from the outside, you see two beautiful, happy teens that love the great outdoors and life itself, but those who know the brother and sister are aware of the daily struggles they experience
“They are true warriors and never give up hope,” said Heidi. “They raise awareness and advocate any chance they can.”
In summing up what happened on a rainy day with flood waters blocking access to their residence, Heidi said, “So, this Fed Ex driver who did not send the box back to the specialty pharmacy and chose to find a way to deliver this box is our hero. This driver does not know us or anything about the reason these meds were needed. Just a miracle that he pursued options to deliver this package.”
Information about juvenile idiopathic arthritis
According to the Arthritis Foundation, juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) is the most common type of arthritis in children and teens. It typically causes joint pain and inflammation in the hands, knees, ankles, elbows and/or wrists. But, it may affect other body parts, too . JIA used to be called juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (JRA), but the name changed because it is not a children’s version of the adult disease. The term “juvenile arthritis” is used to describe all the joint conditions that affects kids and teens, including JIA.
JIA types are autoimmune or autoinflammatory diseases. That means the immune system, which is supposed to fight invaders like germs and viruses, gets confused and attacks the body’s cells and tissues. This causes the body to release inflammatory chemicals that attack the synovium (tissue lining around a joint). It produces fluid that cushions joints and helps them move smoothly. An inflamed synovium may make a joint feel painful or tender, look red or swollen, or difficult to move.
The word “idiopathic” means unknown, and researchers aren’t sure why children develop JIA. They believe children with JIA have certain genes that are activated by a virus, bacteria, or other external factors. But there is no evidence that foods, toxins, allergies, or lack of vitamins cause the disease.
It’s also possible that a child may start off with one type of JIA but develop symptoms of another type later.
The most common symptoms include:
Joint pain or stiffness; may get worse after waking up or staying in one position too long.
- Red, swollen, tender or warm joints.
- Feeling very tired or rundown (fatigue).
- Blurry vision or dry, gritty eyes.
- Appetite loss.
- High fever.
If JIA inflammation goes unchecked, it can damage the lining that covers the ends of bones in a joint (cartilage) and the bones themselves. Here are some other ways JIA can affect the body:
- Eyes. Dryness, pain, redness, sensitivity to light and trouble seeing properly caused by uveitis (chronic eye inflammation). More common with oligoarthritis.
- Bones. Chronic inflammation and use of corticosteroids may cause growth delay in some children with JIA. Bones may get thinner and break more easily (osteoporosis).
- Mouth/Jaw. Difficulty chewing, brushing or flossing. More than half of children with JIA have jaw involvement.
- Neck. Inflammation of the cervical spine can cause neck pain or stiffness. Swollen neck glands could also signal an infection for kids with SJIA or who take immunosuppressing drugs.
- Ankles/feet. Foot pain and difficulty walking. More common in polyarthritis and enthesitis-related arthritis.
- Skin. Symptoms can range from a faint salmon colored rash (SJIA) to a red, scaly rash (psoriatic arthritis).
- Lungs. Inflammation and scarring that can lead to shortness of breath and lung disease. May occur in SJIA.
- Heart. Inflammation may cause damage to the heart muscle. May occur in SJIA.
- Digestive Tract. Abdominal pain and diarrhea. More common in children with spine arthritis or ankylosing spondylitis.
- Reproductive organs. Late onset of puberty. Certain drugs such as cyclophosphamide may lead to fertility problems later.
- Weight loss or gain. Due to changes in appetite, jaw involvement or difficulty exercising. Being overweight puts extra stress on the joints.
Controlling inflammation and managing disease can prevent damage and complications from these health effects.