Tuesday, Aug. 22, 2016
COLUMBIA COUNTY, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) -- Isabelle Green is fierce.
Earning a black belt in karate is a big deal for any third grader, but Isabelle wasn't even supposed to walk.
You could say she's a born fighter.
Isabelle has a rare condition called Arthrogryposis. She knows you've likely never heard of it. Not a lot of people have.
"It's when my joints are tight," she explained. Her joints are so tight, they are in a fixed bent or straight position. "It's kind of like clubbed feet that don't get fixed," added Isabelle's mother.
However, Tania Green says it affects more than just Isabelle's feet. For example, she can't straighten out her wrists. Simple tasks like brushing her hair and writing her name can be a fight, but it's one Isabelle is winning.
"A child that was going to be wheelchair bound is doing karate," her mother beamed, but it hasn't been easy for her little girl. "Imagine being in a cast for five years."
Isabelle's battle began as a mystery. No one could figure it out until the Greens came to the Children's Hospital of Georgia. "Geneticists sat in front of me and opened a text book, and there was a picture of Isabelle," Tania said. "I remember just sitting there, crying, and thinking we have a place! We have a name for this!"
They also had a course of treatment. Isabelle's parents opted for casts instead of multiple surgeries.
"We were concerned about arthritis and pain later on in life for her. We don't want her to be wheelchair bound."
They also did not want her to have a lot of metal in her body. They already knew Isabelle was stronger than steel.
"If you give up, you will never know how to do it," Isabelle said with a smile. "I'm glad that I have Arthrogryposis."
Isabelle could regress if she doesn't keep her joints moving, so Mom makes sure she keeps moving. "You need to get up, you know. We've got cheerleading practice! You need to get up. We've got a girl scout meeting! You've got to get up. We've got 2 karate classes this week!"
Isabelle's family likes to think of it as therapy outside the hospital, even though Isabelle doesn't mind being inside the hospital too.
Isabelle: "I meet cool people, and it's fun there."
Meredith: "Wait, it's fun at a hospital?"
Isabelle: "I like going to the hospital."
Mom likes that Isabelle has a life outside of it as well. "She's getting the whole package of being a child," Tania said. "She doesn't have to sit on the sidelines."
Instead, Isabelle spends her time on the mat, defending her title as state champion for her age group.
She's also reminding all of us to approach each of out battles the way the does. "Never give up," Isabelle said.