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Overcoming MS Fear - Run YOUR Race

Years ago, I received advice from a veteran MS warrior to pick an activity that I did not do before my MS diagnosis. For me, it was running. Sounds crazy but this was over 20 years ago. I was a bit younger and, despite having a couple of relapses, I felt strong enough to take on running. Through the years of being on Tysabri, I was able to truly fall in love with running. Whether it is a 5k, 10k or half marathon, running. Whether summer or winter, I was able to be prepared by having the proper gear.

Friday night, I was preparing for one of my favorite 5K runs, the Paczki Run. The weather was going to be cold (20 degrees), so I was getting ready. Typically, I would be thinking about my upcoming reward, a yummy Paczki. Even though I try to eat healthy, I love to get one big bite of my favorite custard Pazcki, However, this year was different. I have been off of Tysabris and on Ocrevus for over a year and I have felt my strength diminishing. Activities I once looked forward to, now intimidate me. This race was no exception. My husband had a heart procedure last week and was not going with me. He is my caregiver, so naturally, this added to my anxiety. I did not sleep well that night. Would it be too cold? Should I leave my husband as he was healing? Would I be putting others out by requesting transportation to and from the race?

After several hours of lying awake and analyzing why this time felt different. I realized that, this time, I felt fear. It was not a fear of falling. Falling at runs or races was kind of my thing. My friends would even tease me about needing a mattress in front of me or bubble wrap as I ran. The FEAR was, that, for the first time, I would look like a disabled person.

Then came Saturday, Race Day. After the first mile, I was surprised by my strength. I wasn’t the fastest runner but slowly, as I gained strength, I even passed other runners. By the second mile, I was still doing OK but I began to slow. I felt a twinge in my left leg and felt drop foot coming. Then, my first stumble. I was asked by the race volunteers if I was OK. Did I need help? Shortly after, trip and stumble number two, I realized my left leg was not wanting to lift. By the third time, I was ushered to the side of the race course so I could walk and continue and not be a danger to other runners or myself.

It was hard to hold back tears as I realized my disability was no longer hidden. I wasn’t able to run with my friends in the "pack" of healthy runners. I believe that when you are dealing with chronic illness there are several times you grieve. You grieve when you are diagnosed and you grieve throughout your life as your disease progresses. As I processed all of this throughout the day, I felt anything but an inspiration. Then a good friend who walks these races caught up with me and helped me to the finish line. When I hobbled to finish the race, I thought about my Autoimmune Clients. Whenever we begin something new, I see their fear and I watch them, day after day, push through to gain independence. Each face flashed in front of me as I put one foot in front of the other, working to finish the race.

Sometimes we see ourselves in one light and we don't see how others truly see us. The friend that helped me finish saw me as an inspiration (not a disability).

What is YOUR race? (metaphor) What is YOUR goal? Is it adding movement into YOUR body? Is it changing YOUR diet? Is making sure you take the supplements YOUR body needs? Is it tackling the fear that overtakes YOUR thoughts? What is that thing that will help you finish YOUR race? Is it a podcast? Speaker? Pastor? Fellow warrior? or a friend? RACE to it and HOLD ON!!My MS RACE

  1. Thank you so much for sharing this story! Bravo for finding a new interest, committing to it, and completing the race! I know like you're friend who helped you cross the finish line, many people will find you an inspiration. It's difficult to commit to many things when living with MS given the surprising and debilitating symptoms, so the fact that you made it through, on top of all of the other stress in your life at the time, is truly an accomplishment. Thank you for sharing your passion and thoughts on staying motivated! I hope you continue to find joy in your interests! - Kelsey, team member

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