Kirsten fell ill at age 5 with Still’s disease, also known as systemic juvenile idiopathic arthritis, at age 5 and the illnesses just kept on coming. She grew up without much treatment and little medical attention, due to the lack of options available to JIA patients as well as insurance and money issues. It wasn’t until Kirsten met her significant other in college that she became interested in health from an activism point of view. In several short years, she’s gone from a college sophomore (literally!) ignorant about her illness to an educated woman using social media to raise awareness and educate others. She works closely with organizations including the Arthritis Foundation, Creaky Joints, and others to provide support and education.
Having grown up with multiple disabilities, Kirsten was -and continues to be- struck by the lack of empathy, education, awareness, and equality surrounding the varying types of disabilities in the world. The concept of disability justice is one that must be explored in order to improve all of this. We must educate the world on what it means to have these limitations and, perhaps more importantly, what limitations for us are often caused by ignorance or lack of respect. No one should be treated in ways that belittle them and, sadly, that often happens in our world. The battle for equal rights and respect is still very much something that continues today and nowhere is that more apparent than the disability and chronic illness world. That’s what disability justice is – the continued fight for equal recognition, equal respect, and equal personhood.
Recently, Kirsten began a venture that openly discusses how chronic illnesses and disabilities affect Quality of Life issues such as self-care, self-love, relationships (intimate and platonic), sexuality, and sex itself. She is excited to be presenting this idea as an ePatient at MedX in 2016.