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Woman Whose Quirky Walk Led To An Arthritis Diagnosis At Age Two Forced To Give Up Dreams Of Becoming A Dancer

A 21-year-old woman has told movingly how she was forced to give up her dreams of becoming a professional performer – because of the arthritis she was diagnosed with when she was just two years old.

Alex Delameilleure, from Hertford, was diagnosed with juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA), as a toddler after her parents noticed she was only able to walk on the balls of her feet.

Despite the condition, which means she suffers painful swellings in her knees, hands and jaw, Alex began dancing aged five, and grew up imagining she would one day become a professional, taking to the stage in musicals.

Young Alex (PA Real Life/Collect)

But in the end, she was forced to give up that plan, and said of her arthritis: “It’s definitely impacted on my life in more ways than just aches and pains.

“I’ve always loved musical theatre, but any dreams I had of becoming a performer have been quashed.”

When Alex was a tot, her mom Trudi Delameilleure, now 49, an accounts administrator, and dad Jamie Delameilleure, 52, a builder, initially thought their little daughter’s unusual and dainty way of walking was nothing to worry about.

Alex on a train (PA Real Life/Collect)

“They thought it was just a quirk, like I was imitating someone walking round in high heels,” Alex explained.

But six months later, a trip to the family doctor confirmed there was something more sinister at work and she was diagnosed with JIA – a condition that affects around 12,000 children under the age of 16 in the UK, according to Versus Arthritis.

Since her initial diagnosis, Alex has seen a lot of fluctuations and changes in her medication, and has been treated with pills, injections and oral medications.

Alex in Fiddler on the Roof (PA Real Life/Collect)

The dosage has been adjusted up and down too, with most changes due to adverse side effects like sickness, tiredness and poor liver function.

Alex added: “I was quite prone to flare ups when I was younger, so have had quite a few courses of steroids and steroid injections in my joints to improve the condition.”

Determined to keep up with her friends, music-loving Alex joined a tap and jazz class, which was held after school, as well as dabbling with modern dance and ballet, all of which took place over two nights a week.

She said: “When I was younger, I really wanted to be a professional performer, I adored musical theatre and always pictured myself on the stage.”

But gradually Alex had to face up to her condition. Throughout primary school she needed to wear special boots, with Velcro on top, that had ankle and arch support.

She recalled: “Having Velcro fastening shoes back then was a big deal, it automatically made you uncool.”

Alex with friends at a formal (PA Real Life/Collect)

She added: “I was desperate for a pair of lace-up pumps like all my friends, but sadly it wasn’t meant to be.”

And then, when she was in year three, aged seven, she was given a custom-built ‘adapter chair’ to sit on at school, as it put less pressure on her joints.

She said: “The chair was bright red and took up twice the space of a regular school chair.”

Alex with the Politics Societyl (PA Real Life/Collect)

She continued: “I remember the first time I saw it – I was absolutely mortified.”

Out in the playground, she faced difficulties too, adding: “Anything more strenuous than hopscotch would leave me utterly wiped.”

From the age of 11, Alex’s focus shifted on to singing, choir and musical theatre classes, to which she would dedicate four hours a week in school, and five hours a week out of school.

“Come show week I would basically leave school, eat food, head to the theatre and then be home at about 11pm after performing,’ Alex explained.

By her teenage years, though, Alex was struggling with her performing . She said: “”I simply wasn’t flexible enough to carry out even some of the simplest moves, even the warm-up and flexes would come back to haunt me the next day.

“I started taking anti-sickness tablets during the earlier years of secondary school because the treatment at the time was making me quite ill.”

Alex with her family (PA Real Life/Collect)

She added: “Throw in my weakened immune system and constant aches, and I was doomed to fail before I’d even started.”

And seeing what her brother Gene, who is six years younger, could do was a constant reminder of the limitations she faced.

She explained: “My brother is the opposite of me in so many ways, as he’s super sporty and is a member of the local boxing gym.”

Alex with boyfriend, Jack (PA Real Life/Collect)

Alex continued: “Name a sports club and he’s been on it, be it gymnastics or football.”

Finally, when she was 16, Alex threw in the towel for good.

She said: “I was forever having to skip classes that were too strenuous and miss out on parts of rehearsals.”

Alex with boyfriend, Jack (PA Real Life/Collect)

“Then, after my last performance as part of the chorus, it finally dawned on me I was never going to have a career in theatre,” she said.

Alex’s aches and pains were so bad, she was left unable to write up her notes at school, and with monthly bed days a regular occurrence, she would spend days sat in front of the telly watching nothing but current affairs programs.

She explained: “All those bed days meant I watched a lot of news and I got a taste for politics.”

She said: “With that, I waved goodbye to theatre and politics filled its place instead.”

Alex, who is currently in her third year of university, took up the subject at A-level, before going on to study it at undergraduate level at Warwick University.

She added: “It’s been a life-changing experience going to university and standing on my own two feet.”

Alex was diagnosed with arthritis at two years old (PA Real Life/Collect)

“I’ve tried my best to live a normal student life, but it’s not always been possible,” Alex concluded.

Alex had been told by doctors that she might grow out of her arthritis once she reached adulthood, but sadly this was not the case.

She said: “Once I hit my 20th birthday I realized that my arthritis was here to stay.”

“I was gutted at first but I’m very lucky, my condition is managed well, and now I suffer with localized inflammations more than anything else,” added Alex.

For Alex, “localized inflammations” mean that particular joints are affected more than others, depending on how often they are used.

“One month it can be my knees, the next my ankle or even my jaw,” she explained.

Alex with a friend at formal (PA Real Life/Collect)

Alex, who spent freshers’ week unable to join in with social nights out because of medication, met her boyfriend, Jack, 21, at a Politics Society social.

“Growing up I was never very confident talking about my condition, but with Jack it’s completely different,” she continued.

“I told him straight away not to expect romantic walks down the beach or adventurous days out exploring.”

Alex as a child, with her dad (PA Real Life/Collect)

She added: “Luckily, he’s super supportive and two years on, we’re as strong as ever.”

After taking part in work experience with arthritis charity Versus Arthritis last year, Alex has gained more confidence to open up about her condition.

She added: “I’ve learnt so much from my time working with Versus Arthritis – arthritis is not just an old person’s disease and now I’ve got the confidence to tell people that.”

“So many young people suffer from the condition and it’s never spoken about,” she continued.

“That’s why I’m speaking out, to help raise awareness and show other young people out there living with the condition that they’re not alone.”

Alex is now planning on kick starting a career in public affairs as a communications officer after she graduates this summer.

Alex in her final year of studies (PA Real Life/Collect)

She said: “People think that being diagnosed with arthritis is one step away from being put into a nursing home, but it’s not.

“You won’t necessarily need a walking stick and a Zimmer frame – I’m walking proof of that.”

Versus Arthritis supports young people with the condition and their families through its Young People and Families Service. For more information visit

We're all self-conscious about something, and it doesn't help when our faults get thrown in our faces. You don't want doctors hinting that something is "weird down there," nor do you want someone to tell you you're balding. WE KNOW.

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When you know your kids backwards and forwards, this is the best tool in your arsenal.

Getting our kids to listen to us is not always the easiest of tasks. They're willful and stubborn, but we've got a mighty weapon they are rarely prepared for: reverse psychology. Getting them to convince themselves to want to do something against their own initial intentions takes some work and a whole lot of creativity, but a little sneaky manipulation goes a long way. Here are some clever parents' tricks that are definitely worth taking notes on.

Redditor u/LeanderD Asks:

Parents of reddit, what's your best example of reversed psychology on your kids that actually worked?

He Floated His Idea Through A Back Channel


Wanted to name my boat. Anything I would think of was dismissed as stupid by my 13 year old son. After deciding on a name, I confided to a male friend my son liked. Made my friend suggest the name as though it was his idea. My son thought the name was perfect. Done.


We Always Want What We Can't Have

One of my best friends through childhood used to be punished with no salad if she misbehaved. She cherishes salad now and would always try to eat as much as possible during school lunch. Coincidentally, her now husband used to be punished with no books, it had the same effect. I think it's hilarious that they'd be hitting the salad bar and library like some black market their narc parents couldn't reach hahaha.


A Deceit That's A Cut Above The Rest


Don't know if this counts, but, at my high school (private, boys only) in the 1960's, they made a big deal about how long your hair was, and would occasionally order a boy to go home and "get a haircut".

I thought it was stupid, until years later, a master confided to me at a reunion that the policy was deliberate. The school figured we'd spend so much energy rebelling about hair length, that we would ignore other aspects of teenage rebellion. (Not?) Surprisingly, they were mostly right.


Damn! That's smart. Wow.


Oh they don't like long hair?

I'll show them. I'll grow my hair out as lon- what?! No I don't want to go "party"? I gotta try out this horse shampoo.


The Forbidden Book

Hi I was a victim,

There was a forbidden book that I was not allow to read on the shelf. My parents said I could only read it if I behave myself.

It was summer holidays and I was playing games all day (after 6 hrs of summer homework). One day I was home alone and had the opportunity to grabbed it. I read like half of it in one go. It was 5000 years of Chinese history.

Safe to say I was bamboozled.


Flowers Of The Queen

My parents always told me my broccoli were the flowers of the queen and that I really shouldn't eat them, or else the queen would get very upset! I, of course, ate the whole broccoli in a few seconds.


I'm telling the queen and she's gonna be pissed


Sleeping Beauty


I taught my kids when they were toddlers that no amount of yelling, shaking or hitting can wake a sleeping adult. The only thing that works is a gentle hug and/or a nice kiss on the cheek.

Edit: Probably needed some more details for the reverse psychology aspect to be clear. It went something like this - Step one, tell the kids I'm going to sleep and nothing they do will wake me (head buried face down is the safest position). Step two, after the initial onslaught dies down pretend to awaken on your own. Tell them you got a bit of nap left in you and nothing can wake you, especially not hugs and kisses.


Holy sh*t...if my daughter woke me up like this I would buy her a pony.


I am saving this comment because this will save lives if I ever have kids, stg.


A Walk In Someone Else's Shoes.

Split custody with my ex. When my son was around 10, he visited two weekends a month. I was waiting tables and didn't have a huge amount to spend, but he was so needy from divorce (and I'm not blaming him, it was ugly), he begged constantly for MORE when he was with me. Whatever more was, it didn't matter... he'd be eating ice cream cone and begging for teriyaki.

I finally realized that he just felt empty, and getting MORE whatever from me wasn't filling him up. His next visit I handed him $100 in cash and told him it was our food/fun budget for 3 days and two nights, and he was in charge of it. I bought him his own wallet to carry. We figured out how many times we were going to eat and what we were going to do, and he paid. He got to keep whatever money he had left...thought he was rich...then realized just how much everything cost. Well. Shoe on other foot then. If we had no money for food, we ate leftovers - and I didn't contribute more to pot. After a few weekends of running short or not getting something he actually wanted because he was foolish with funds, he started to really think about how to spend that money. He budgeted and kept to his budget. And a few times he actually went home with a little cash for his private stash.

Many years later, he thanked me for this. It really changed the way he thought about money and love.


This Is Worth Giving A Shot

Took my 3 year old son to one of those doctor's visits where he was going to get a shot. He was worried about the shot on the whole drive over, almost to the point of tears. We get to the doctor's office and a nurse subtly lets me know that my son is not just scheduled for 1 shot, but 5 of them in the same visit.

I turn to my son with an exaggerated smile and tell him, "Good news! They figured out how to take that one big shot you were going to get and instead break it up into these 5 little tiny shots so it won't hurt nearly as much!"

You could see the relief wash over his face. He stopped squirming and relaxed completely. He took the first shot and even smiled and said "It's true! The small ones don't hurt!"

We actually made it through the third shot before the effect wore off and reality kicked in. Still... I counted it as a victory.


Put This To The Taste


My mom would tell me she only lets me eat soup after candy and she'd only buy me candy that i didn't like. After a few times, i stopped trying and begged her to let me eat soup first. She gave me a smirk and told me go ahead. This doesn't sound as evil as it was. But trust me i suffered.


So what was the candy?


Mint chocolate, raisins, stuff like that. I still hate them to this day. Who the f--- thought while eating chocolate "hmm id like some tooth paste with this."


This is Truckin' Awesome

Mum had sworn a bit around the house.

When 4, while out at the supermarket, I said F word really loudly.

Very quickly and intently, she asked if I had just said "Truck" and said that was a bad word and not to ever say Truck like that again.

I thought that was the bad word so used that when being naughty.


The "Silly Mom" Routine

The "Silly Mom" routine.

My kid, and a few other kids I've known, would balk at getting ready to go. I'd grab their clothes and say, "Well, if you won't put on your clothes, I guess I'll put on your clothes. Cute shirt, by the way! Does it go on my foot?"


"Does it go on my head?"


"Oh, that's right, thanks! So, it must go on your legs, right?"


"I just can't figure this out! Where does this adorable shirt go?"

[kid grabs shirt and puts it on] ON MY TUMMY! SILLY MOM!

"Oh, thank you so much! Now what about these pants? Shirts go on tummies, so...the pants go on the tummy, too, right?"


[continue until kids have dressed themselves]

I would also do things like hand the kid my keys and say, "Alright, you're driving, I'll sit in the booster seat in back," attempt to feed the kid by putting a spoon up to his ear or his belly button, and attempt to put away his toys in the refrigerator.


Some Foot For Thought.


My mum would always yell at us "if you don't do X, you have to go to bed without socks!"

I never wore socks anyway, and I'm ashamed to admit that this worked.


That would work really well on my son, or make him cry for a really long time... He's 3 and over the last few weeks has decided that he is fully unable to sleep without socks on.


Toddlers man. Completely unpredictable.


I'm Greens With Envy

My mum had a friend that would put vegetables on her own plate and not the kids.

When the kids asked she would be reluctant to share, "that's grown up food. But I suppose I can let you have a little."

Her kids grew up loving vegetables.

I sat at the dinner table for 3 hours staring at the yucky cauliflower I refused to eat.


This reminds me of an instance when my child convinced my wife and myself to change our plans for dinner. We were in a grocery store to pick up something quick and easy to eat that we wouldn't have to prepare. Our daughter, wanted none of that, she demanded that she wanted a salad from the salad bar. We started to argue back, but then realized: "Our child demands that we feed her vegetables for dinner instead of a microwaved meal, why are we saying 'No?'"

We had salad for dinner that night.


The Power Of Choice

I don't so much know if you would call it reverse psychology, but I didn't realize it until my dad told me this.

When there were chores that needed doing, he noticed if he asked me to mow the lawn, I would complain and procrastinate. But if he asked would I rather mow the lawn or wash the windows, I'd pick one and just get it done.

Shattered my brain when he told me when I was in my twenties. I use it when I'm coaching or baby sitting all the time and it almost never fails.


The Boy Who Cried 'Ouch'


I've done this one with tens of kids. Any time a kid gets "hurt" (falls down on grass, gets gently hit in the face with a ball, etc.) instead of stopping the activity to pick the kid up and see if they're ok you just scoot them off to the side and resume. Within 10 seconds of not getting all the attention and seeing the fun is resuming they pop right back up and are magically healed.

This of course is only for the "injuries" that aren't actually injuries.


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