Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 5/6/2009 (4352 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Jennifer Walton hasn't let the juvenile rheumatoid arthritis diagnosed when she was a toddler stop her from playing piano and accordion professionally or running marathons.
Some of the thanks for those accomplishments goes to Rosa Appel, her physiotherapist at Children's Hospital.
"Rosa was just wonderful," said Walton, 36.
"I'd have physiotherapy with Rosa in the pool. Until I was 10, I always thought physiotherapy was a reward for having a blood test. The hospital has a pool and that's where Rosa would play with me."
Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis is a painful, chronic disease that damages joints in the body.
Appel says she still remembers Walton.
"She was a treat," Appel said. "She was a lovely little girl and her family was very warm."
Appel said during her 10 years working with children with arthritis in the hospital, she saw many who were preschool age.
But Appel said Walton was one of the youngest.
"She would have been two-and-a- half," Appel said.
The Children's Hospital is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year and Walton is just one of the thousands of children who have been treated there.
The Children's Hospital first opened in a three-storey home on Beaconsfield Street, near the Red River east of Main Street, on Feb. 6, 1909. The hospital was founded by Annie B. Bond.
The Children's Hospital moved to other locations until it opened at its current site on Sherbrook Street in 1985.
Walton said her parents first suspected something was wrong when she wouldn't straighten out her arm one day.
She said the arthritis was also in her neck, as evidenced by numerous photographs showing her hanging her chin down towards her chest.
"I eventually had exploratory surgery. They opened up my big toe and said, oh, arthritis, and sewed it back up."
From there, Walton was referred to physiotherapy where she met Appel.
"People say to me, 'Oh my goodness you're 36 and you have arthritis, but you're so young,' but I have always had it," she said.
Walton, who now works with the Health Sciences Centre Foundation, said she hasn't let her illness stop her from playing piano full time for the Royal Winnipeg Ballet School, playing accordion with the Celtic rock band Venus Murphy, or running three full marathons and several half marathons.
"I'm very lucky," she said. "I maybe have a bad week or two in the spring and then the fall. I can feel weather systems coming in -- I feel rain coming in my knee. This spring hasn't been great for me."
Appel is thrilled to know how well Walton has been able to manage her arthritis and her life.
"You have to have commitment, drive, determination and spirit -- she has that," Appel said.
"I remember four or five children of the children that I worked with and they're all leading productive lives."
Kevin Rollason is one of the more versatile reporters at the Winnipeg Free Press. Whether it is covering city hall, the law courts, or general reporting, Rollason can be counted on to not only answer the 5 Ws — Who, What, When, Where and Why — but to do it in an interesting and accessible way for readers.