When Madison Penkal's jaw began to swell, her mom thought it might be wisdom teeth coming in. But that wasn't the case. The 16 year old Tri High School junior was eventually diagnosed with juvenile idiopathic arthritis, polyarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
"When it first began, it was in her jaw and we saw an oral surgeon at Riley Hospital and they diagnosed her with TMJ," said Stacy Dick, Penkal's mother.
TMJ, Temporomandibular Joint Disorder, is pain in the jaw joint and can be brought on by multiple medical conditions. However, the family later learned TMJ wasn't the cause of Penkal's discomfort. It was arthritis.
Penkal, a cheerleader, noticed one day that her knee was swollen. Because she was an athlete, her doctor thought she injured it at practice and recommended stretching exercises. When she returned for a physical though, a nurse practitioner said the knee was too swollen and sent her to an orthopedic surgeon.
"There was a lot of fluid built up in her knee and so she had 17cc's drained out the day before school started and later that week she had to go back and get it redrained because she couldn't walk," Dick said. "That's when the doctors tested her for rheumatoid arthritis."
Penkal said the arthritis affects her ankles, wrists, knees and jaw. She also has swelling in her elbows. Some days are worse than others, but she has not stopped cheering.
"The arthritis in my wrist isn't too bad, my face and my knee really swell the most out of everything. The worst part is taking all the medicine, I don't really like that," Penkal said.
Dick said that her daughter went from being healthy to taking lots of medications for joint pain. And she also receives a low dose of chemotherapy each week and has to go to Riley Hospital every three months to see her rheumatologist and have blood work done.
Penkal was recently selected as one of six children across the state who will participate in the Art for Arthritis show Aug. 19 in Indianapolis. The event is sponsored by the Indiana Arthritis Foundation and pairs artists with children who suffer from juvenile arthritis. The event takes place from 6-9 p.m. at Gallery Forty-Two, 42 E. Washington St., Indianapolis. Proceeds from the benefit the foundation.
"We started working with the foundation as soon as she was diagnosed because I didn't know anything about this new life we were living," Dick said. "I signed up for emails and newsletters and that's how we found out about the art show."
Penkal, along with 6,400 other kids in Indiana, suffer from some sort of arthritis, according to the arthritis foundation. After high school, Penkal wants to attend college and study to be a rheumatologist.
Liza Hyatt, the artist working with Penkal, was diagnosed with arthritis at age 3 and later went into remission as a child and is still in remission today According to Dick, remission is the best thing someone suffering from arthritis can hope for because there is no cure.
Hyatt and Penkal met a few times to discuss the project and actually make the artwork for the August show. Penkal titled the piece "My Favorite Things."
"The first time we met we did a couple of different things and just kind of played with different mediums," Penkal said. "We chose what I liked to do best and what I thought was the most interesting so we chose printmaking. This was my first time working with printmaking and I liked it because I got to choose what shapes went into my work."
A ticket for the art show is $40 for adults, $15 for children. Penkal must raise $250 for her portion of the project. After the show, Gallery Forty-Two will auction off the art work as another way to bring in donations.
For more information about arthritis or to donate to the show, visit the Indiana Arthritis Foundation's website, visit www.artforarthritisindy.org.