Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Athletes Have MS?

Two of my three favorite sisters!
If you know anything about MS, you know that it is a progressive disease that attacks the nervous
system causing physical and cognitive challenges to people who are impacted by the disease, and so it may be a surprise to you that there are MANY athletes who have MS. Here is a short list:

Stan Belinda - Former MLB player, played for two years post diagnosis.

Josh Harding - NHL Player, has his best of his career one year after being diagnosed.

Lori Schneider - Mountaineer, first person with MS to successfully climb Everest.

Chris Wright - MBA player, who currently plays basketball professionally in France.
Kelly Sutton - NASCAR driver, and was diagnosed when she was sixteen.

Demitrius Omphroy- Soccor player and star of a Justin Beiber video.

Kayla Montgomery - A high schooler diagnosed and then joined the track team. Click on her name, watch the video.

And my favorite?

Sarah (Me) of course - Former couch rider with a discovered passion of slow running and triathlons.

All ten of my readers already know my story, and so why tell it again? Well, actually I'm not going to, Instead I'm going to tell you a story of how MS has impacted me as an athlete.

Pre MS diagnosis I hid the challenges that I faced because I literally thought I was crazy. Before I was diagnosed with MS, I hightailed it to my car after a run because it was easier to sit in my car and think I was crazy, rather than hang around with newish friends and try to hide that I was crazy.

You see, I always got weak after I ran but never understood why. Fast forward some time, get diagnosed with MS, do a half iron man a couple days later, and then fall into the realization that I had this disease. I am an athlete and I will not let anyone take that away from me. Sure I'm a slow runner, but no one ever said I had to be fast.

I spend hours on the bike paths of Columbus knowing that at any given time I might start dragging my left foot, knowing that I might stumble a lot after I run, knowing that I might simply collapse after I run, but I still do it. I am an athlete.

You see, my biggest problem with MS is that my toes are perpetually numb, along with my arm and my tongue. If you catch me when I'm tired, or after ONE beer, I may sound like and appear to be a very drunk person, slurred speech and all. But again, I am an athlete.

I have days where concentrating is impossible. I'm like a kid with the most severe case of ADD. Seriously, we can be having a conversation about flowers and next thing you know I'm on to philosophizing the name of objects. Or I might literally forget what I am talking about mid-sentence or even what I am doing mid task. My favorite cartoon had the caption: "I have a new skill, forgetting what I am doing while I'm doing it." Despite this, I am an athlete!

Me and said best friend celebrating 175 miles over two days!
Some people may ask why I keep putting the strain on my body and my response is this: The more active I am now, the better I will feel in the future. Running relieves the stress from the emotional impact of knowing that I have a disease that could progress. AFTER a run, my brain processes information better, during is a different story... Seriously, don't ask me to add zero and zero while running because I might tell you it totals nine. One of the most important reasons I run is that I get to spend several days a week with my best friend literally running around Columbus (over the summer the bike is thrown in to). And the most important reason I do all of this exercise despite having MS? Because I am an athlete!

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