Guest Blogger 2013

April 28, 2013

This is why I run, walk, and bike.

Getting closer to the MS 50 Mile Challenge Walk here in St. Louis, MO.  I asked my friend Jen Mason, who has Multiple Sclerosis, if she wouldn’t mind blogging about her experience and share with others.  I’m still $400.00 short of my goal, so if you would like to sponsor me, please go to this link:

http://main.nationalmssociety.org/site/TR/Challenge/MOSChallengeWalkEvents?px=11943326&pg=personal&fr_id=19466

Enjoy and keep on moving….

Jen & Greta.  MS 50 Mile Walk. Individuals that wore orange shirts have MS.

A few weeks ago my dear friend, Laurel, contacted me to tell me that she heard about this walk that raises money for the National Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Society.  After a few minutes I realized that she meant the 50 mile walk!!  Three days, fifty miles, closer to a cure!!  I shared with her that I had walked that walk in Baltimore, MD about 8 years ago, and it was the most rewarding personal goal I had accomplished.  Next thing I know Laurel is signed up and ready to walk and raise awareness for me and others who suffer with Multiple Sclerosis.

What is Multiple Sclerosis?

Multiple Sclerosis is a chronic, unpredictable disease of the central nervous system; the brain, optic nerves, and spinal cord. It is thought to be an autoimmune disorder. This means the immune system incorrectly attacks the person’s healthy tissue.

Hanging in there!

MS can cause blurred vision, loss of balance, poor coordination, slurred speech, tremors, numbness, extreme fatigue, problems with memory and concentration, paralysis, and blindness and more. These problems may be permanent or may come and go.

Most people are diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50, although individuals as young as 2 and as old as 75 have developed it. MS is not considered a fatal disease as the vast majority of people with it live a normal life-span. But they may struggle to live as productively as they desire, often facing increasing limitations.

My case started in my early teens. I began to have bad headaches, unexplained pain, some dizziness that was always diagnosed as an inner ear infection and tingling in my hands and feet.  It seemed that any issue I was having was always brushed off because nothing would last long enough for a doctor to really witness.  Doctors would always tell me that it was probably a virus or a muscle pull.  Finally, at the age of 33 I had a doctor who listened to me and didn’t think I was crazy.  She referred me to a neurologist for the headaches and the numbness, but before I could get into see him I had a slight accident at home.  I had hit my head and had to go to the ER for concussion like symptoms.  They did a CT scan to make sure there wasn’t any bleeding. I was sent home with the results that I did have a concussion and they found a lesion on my brain.  So, needless to say my neurology appointment was moved up to the next day. The neurologist reassured me that it was NOT brain cancer. That I was suffering from migraine headaches and the white lesion could have been there since I was born. The doctor sent me home with a prescription for migraine medicine and told me to follow up with him in 6 months.  Happy to hear that it was just migraines and not brain cancer this busy mom of three young kids was too busy to worry about going back to talk about my headaches.

Now three months later my husband has deployed with the Navy and I am starting to have some issues with numbness in my right leg and my vision was changing.  I had a hard time making things out that were in front of me. This lasted for three days then it was gone. Vision was fine and my leg felt normal.  I had an appointment with my PCP in a couple of weeks so I figured I would talk to her about it then.  Well, she sends me right back to the neurologist.  I explained the symptoms to him and he sends me for a MRI.  The results come back saying that I had 4 new white lesions that were active.  So in those few months I went from 1 to 5 lesions.  He orders a spinal tap, and explains that over 90% of people with MS have oligoclonal bands in their cerebrospinal fluid (CFS). While increased immunoglobulin in the CSF and oligoclonal bands are seen in many other brain and spinal cord conditions, their presence is often useful in helping to establish a diagnosis of MS.  After nine months from the first day I saw the neurologist I was diagnosed with MS.  Unfortunately, there is not a simple test to see if someone has MS.  It’s a combination of your medical history, MRI, and spinal tap.  Some people wait years for a diagnosis.

Since being diagnosed I have had 4 very bad flare-ups, and several small flare-ups.   I have many lesions on my brain (doc stopped counting after 30). I have been on 4 different disease-modifying drugs.  The first three were in shot form that I would have to give to myself.  These drugs are not a cure for the disease!  If they are successful, these drugs could slow down the progression of the disease by as much as 33%.  Example, if you have an average of three MS flare ups in a year and the medicine works for you, it could decrease your flare ups to only two.  I am now on a new medicine that is in pill form, thank goodness, and on average can slow the disease by 51%!

Individuals that wore beige shirts walked, but don’t have MS.

Just twenty years ago these disease-modifying drugs didn’t exist.  Doctors could only treat the symptoms caused by MS.  Now there are ten disease-modifying drugs on the market. Five of those ten are new to the market in the past 7 years.

After 10 years I thank God everyday that I am still walking.  I can’t walk the 50 mile walk, but I am walking!

I will never be able to thank you enough, Laurel, for raising awareness for my cause.  You are the definition of a forever friend!!  Oh, after your feet are feeling better and your toenails grow back, the pedicures are on me!!  I love you, Laurel!!!

Jen Mason

Anna Dowell

Fellow runners I’m pleased to present my second guest blogger, Anna Dowell!  I’m sure you will find her running story as inspirational as I did.  It’s truly amazing how running can transform the spirit and the body, all we have to do is want that transformation.  It’s not how fast you finish the race or how long your journey, all that matters is you’re on the path.  Enjoy, Never.Give.Up.

Princess

I love this photo! She is a beautiful princess!!

During the last month of pregnancy, with my third child, I got a disturbing phone call from my OB/GYN.  I was told I had borderline high blood sugar levels.  My weight had not been good for a very long time and I had neglected to take care of myself.  I remember sitting down on the bed and crying my eyes out.  I did not want to be diabetic.  I did not want high cholesterol or to be as overweight as I was.  More importantly, I became really concerned about the way I was feeding my children during my mother’s battle with terminal brain cancer.  I knew I needed better nutrition and exercise and that I needed to honor the “temple” (or body) that the Lord had given me.

PostPrincess

She’s sporting the medal!

I started by simply walking at 2.5-3.0 or so on the treadmill while still pregnant.  I resumed the walking post C-section (with the mantras “By His stripes I am healed” and “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength) and started couponing to save money so that I could buy organic/non gmo and sustainable food.  I trained with a trainer who started me on my journey of fitness and then changed trainers as my goals changed.  I fell in love with Zumba and weightlifting and told my trainer to never, ever make me run to which she grinned and then she started making me run laps much to my chagrin.  Eventually the weight and inches started to come off and I have lost over 60 lbs.  A running friend of mine challenged me to a Turkey Trot and I was terrified but did the 5k anyway.  To my surprise, I discovered running was therapeutic and amazing and that I could do more than my mind was telling me that I could do.

Glamour

This is such a classic photo, reminds me of the 50s shots!

To celebrate my three-year journey of health and wellness, I decided around year two of this process that I wanted to run a half marathon, but I honestly wasn’t sure I could do it.  So I practiced and trained and did a mock run!  : )  I did great for a newbie and decided to sign up for my first official half as the Disney Princess Half Marathon 2013.  I completed that in Feb. and am now training for a second and third half and I look forward to (gulp) embracing a marathon within the next year.

Elegant

Beautiful!

I use running as medicine, it controls my blood pressure, has almost eliminated my asthma, prevents diabetes, and helps with cancer prevention.  It is also a great mental and emotional stress reliever for me.  Often, I am quite chatty and busy (especially with three girls and a military hubby). Running is my time to think, unplug, pray or figure out solutions to problems that are bothering me.  Sometimes I just get lost in what I refer to as “IPod land” (which is a variety of music and genres whatever gets me moving) and just enjoy the music and scenery.

Some of the best things about running are accomplishing goals, relieving stress, and the running community.  I also love to wear sparkleskirts- they are a weakness of mine!  The worst part about running is my stubborn IT band and the occasional loss of toenail (s).

My best race was completing the Princess half marathon.  I was able to set a huge goal and celebrate it with family and friends in the happiest place on Earth while rocking a Belle sparkleskirt costume! : )  I guess my “worst race” experience would be this year’s Turkey Trot I over-trained trying to get my workouts in and was exhausted.  My feet felt like lead the whole race and I almost got sick at the end.  I did learn a bunch of things about training, nutrition, and rest from that race so it is all good. 

I feel running has helped change my concept of who I am spiritually, physically, mentally and emotionally.  I am strong and I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.

Guest Blogger Kathi White

I’m excited to add the “guest blogger” page to 11315miles!  Why should I have all the fun!  This is a great way to promote other runners (bikers/walkers) that I have had the opportunity to run with while allowing them to tell their story.  I’m extremely proud to introduce to you Kathi White.  I’ve had the pleasure of running with Kathi on two occasions; one race (The Nippy Niner) and one 10 mile practice run.  She is a great runner and very bright light.  Enjoy, keep on moving!

photo

I love this photo – so sweet!

About me:
Hi! My name is Kathi White and I live in Southern Illinois. I am 36 years of age and happily married to Josh. We have two beautiful children who bring so much love, laughter, joy and energy to our lives. Emily is 9 years old and is in third grade. Our son, Christopher is 3 years old and in preschool.
I attend Christ Church in Fairview Heights where I lead a ministry (Hearts for Heroes) that honors our military men/women thru care packages and prayers. I attend Bible Studies to help me grow in my relationship with Christ and I participate in MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers. Currently my vocation is that I stay at home with Christopher and I watch another little girl 2-3 days a week. In my free time or “mommy”
time, I enjoy wine, movies, pedicures, Starbucks and shopping:)

KW

A princess with a medal!

Why I run:
It is good for my body/soul/spirit/mind. I am helping to take care of the body Jesus gave me and that He entrusted me with. 1 Cor 6:19-20.
I am setting a positive example and being a good role model for my children, family and friends alike.

The best thing I like about running is how I feel free and as if I am flying when I run.  I like experiencing God’s beautiful creations around me and taking it all in…taking a mental picture if you will:) Fresh, new fallen snow,  Seeing the sunrise, seeing new flowers and tree buds bloom–all of this God created for you and me to enjoy and admire and to know that He is good all
of the time.
The worst thing about running is if/when there is a dog on the loose and I am not sure if that dog will chase after me…don’t know if the dog will attack me or retreat and go home. Another thing I dislike about running is the occasional knee pain after I am done running.

The best race I have ever ran in to date would have to be in the Spring of 2011 at the O’ Fallon YMCA. It was the Springtime Challenge and there were three distances to choose from. A 5K, 10K or a 15K. I decided to run the 10K since I had only ever ran 5K’s before. I figured I could run three more miles. I did awesome and placed first in my age group for females 30-39. I knew seven weeks after there was a half-marathon coming up in Maryville I decided to train for…I thought at that point..,what are seven more miles? 🙂

My worst race was this past December 2012 in Springfield, Missouri. It was Run for the Ranch Marathon or 1/2. My dream/goal is to qualify to run in Boston 2014. I was going to run this marathon in the anticipation of getting the time I need for Boston which is 3:40 for females in my age group. Well, this course was a loop course…full marathoners had to run a 3 mile course 8 times around. It became confusing to pass the same landmarks over and over again. When it came to the last three miles that I thought I still had to run I was told to finish…the finish line was straight ahead…needless to say, I didn’t get my BQ time:( I learned I won’t do anymore loop courses unless it is
twice and perhaps God was telling me
I wasn’t quite ready yet for this..,I still
need to run another:)

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