Story of Healing

Ketcher Perkins

East Feliciana Parish

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"The doctor took one look at his ankles and knew that it was arthritis."

When Ketcher Perkins was just under a year old, he started to have extremely high fevers of 103-104 degrees. His mom, Jenny, became relieved when his temperature dropped down to a healthy number. But, Jenny learned that relief was only temporary.  

Ketcher’s temperature would spike in episodes. His mom became especially concerned when those fevers weren’t breaking. His fevers would last for over 30 days at a time. Jenny wasn’t sure what was causing it, but she knew they needed answers, fast.  

Jenny brought her son to a pediatrician in Zachary, Louisiana near their home in East Feliciana parish,  who ran several tests in attempts to help her son. When the tests came back with no results, they turned to a hospital in Baton Rouge. Jenny remembers advocating for her son, pleading with doctors to help her find an answer to his ongoing fevers. But still, after running every test they could think of, no one could deliver her an answer. 

A few months later, Ketcher’s pediatrician did a full body assessment and noticed that his ankles were swollen. She asked if he had any rashes on his body and his mom couldn’t recall any. Despite lacking other symptoms, Ketcher’s pediatrician contacted rheumatology and ordered specific blood work, hoping to finally have an answer.  

When Ketcher was just two years old, he was referred to Dr. Abraham Gedalia, a pediatric rheumatologist at Children’s Hospital New Orleans. Dr. Gedalia had Jenny flip Ketcher onto his stomach, and he pulled his ankles together. “The doctor took one look at his ankles and knew that it was arthritis,” said mom, Jenny.  

Dr. Gedalia diagnosed two-year-old Ketcher with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (JRA). Jenny recalled learning how rare it was to find JRA in someone as young as Ketcher. “I noticed too, when he woke up in the morning, poor thing, he would walk like a little old man…kind of bent over, knees turned together. Cause he was hurting. His little ankles were sore,” said Jenny.  

Jenny spoke about Ketcher’s official diagnosis, “To be completely honest, it was not a big deal to me. We have four boys, and our third son has a liver disease. The juvenile rheumatoid arthritis was nothing compared to what we had been through with our third son. To be honest with you, it was ‘Okay what do we do? What do we do to treat it?’” 

Ketcher went to Children’s Hospital New Orleans every three months and started to see Dr. Gedalia in Children’s Hospital’s Baton Rouge Specialty Clinic every couple of visits so they would not have to travel as far. For about a year now, he has been on medicine to help his JRA and Dr. Gedalia plans to start to wean him at his next visit in January.  

His mom says he always takes his medicine like a champ. “He is not near as fussy, as he was before. He doesn’t have fever. He is 100 percent better on the medicine. His knees look pretty normal, but his ankles have some swelling. Overall, it doesn’t bother him,” said Jenny.  

Unlike her other experiences, Jenny didn’t have to advocate for Ketcher at Children’s Hospital New Orleans. Jenny recalls, “Dr. Gedalia just put my mind at ease. He knew he could treat it and would put it into remission.”  

The Perkins family choses to take life day by day and always prays for the best. “Don’t give up. Never give up. Be the advocate for you child. Demand more answers. Put your faith in God and pray for His will to be done,” said Jenny. 

To this day, Ketcher loves any game with a ball, especially baseball. He just loves to be outside and wants to keep up with his three older brothers. He gets to run free like a two-year-old should.  

Click here to learn more about pediatric Rheumatology at Children’s Hospital New Orleans.