Having just completed my first ever sporting event I thought now would be a good time to celebrate what that really means for me. Starting at age 10 I suffered from debilitating joint pain. Pain that would keep me in bed or on the couch for weeks at a time, the pain would worsen after 1 “normal” kid activity like swimming for an hour.
Mom and I just added up the number of doctors and specialists I saw who tried to find a reason for the pain. We went to specialist after specialist who couldn’t figure out what was going on. I did x-rays, cat scans, MRI’s, blood tests ect all to find that there was no “diagnosis” we could put to my hurts. I thank God for the family and friends he surrounded me with, people who believed me and tried to help whenever they could. I remember so many “special” events in my life that were altered by pain. Age 12, being told you probably have rheumatoid arthritis and might never quit hurting. Age 13, I remember wanting to play tennis, Mom and Dad got us some rackets and balls and we went to the park down the street from our house. After probably 15-20 minutes I ran home crying scared because my hands were numb and tingling. Age 14, being pushed around a zoo by your friends in a wheel chair so I could go on the youth group trip, age 15, being almost dumped down the stairs by a friend pushing me in a wheel cheer at the mall so I could spend the day with my friends without hurting. Ya, I could have used crutches but then my wrists and shoulders would hurt too bad to write or play the fiddle for a couple of weeks. Age 17 I was crowned the Cloud County Fair Queen! During the crowning I was on crutches having just had a cortisone injection to try to help my ankle pain. During the fair they had to rent me a golf cart so I could attend all of the events for the entire week. It seemed like it was just one battle after another all the while not getting any lasting results. It wasn’t until my freshman year in college that God led us down the path to getting well. We found a book talking about food allergies, yeast and joint pain. There was one sentence in the book that led us looking down a new path. After a few more doctor visits I tried an anti-fungal route. I took major doses of anti fungals and a very strict diet for 2 years while I was in college. Basically we think I had yeast deposits on my joints from a prolonged strep throat virus then treated with mega rounds of antibiotics. The anti-fungals slowly killed off these yeast deposits then putting that into my blood stream, toxins that made me terrible ill. I spent 2 years not being able to eat a normal diet, feeling nauseous every day, carrying puke bags in my pockets. Still hurting and feeling sick enough that I couldn’t participate in normal college activities. Slowly, some of the pain started to diminish but I still had a lingering foot problem. The foot problems alone had me in 2 casts and I completely wore out 3 walking boots. On August 30, 2011 I had surgery for a paroneal nerve release on my left knee that was “possibly” going to help my foot pain. The recovery from surgery I think was the WORST pain I’ve ever been in all of the years combined. I was again in bed on high doses of pain meds not remembering those 2-4 weeks of life. I went back for follow up appointments and the surgeon was still unsure that anything would be better. By last April 2012 my pain and nerve tingling had mostly gotten better. This was the first time in 10-12 years that I had EVER been pain free!!!! Now, a year later I look back and realize how far I’ve really come. I’m really grateful that God sent us down a path of recovery and that He placed doctors and nurses and physical therapists to help me along the path of being well!!!!
Now, you might ask why I wanted to compete in a triathlon….well, back when I was going to see the rheumatologist I said that if I was ever pain free I wanted to compete in a triathlon thinking there was NO way I’d ever get HERE! There were months where I couldn’t even stand on stage to perform let alone ride a bicycle or swim a half of a mile. I trained for 9 months, learning about diet changes I could make that wouldn’t flair my fungal issues up, how to build muscle that would help prevent joint injury, I took swimming lessons to learn how to swim and swim properly to avoid injury. These past few months have been amazing for me! I never, ever thought this was possible. I can now go to the park and run around with friends, play tag with the kids I babysit, walk around a huge grocery store, make millions of trips to the van and back without worrying. Now, my automatic brain still kicks in trying to keep me from doing fun things, taking long hikes or making too many trips outside, but I’m here to tell my brain that I’m well and I can do whatever I want …within reason.
So, this triathlon, it means more to me than just running a race. This is a dream come true, a dream to be “normal”. Don’t ask me why God decided I needed to hurt for 10 years. I do know that I got pretty darn stubborn through those years and I’ve had to be really determined to get to where I am. I want to say a special thanks to my friends and family who’ve been here for me all these years. I know it wasn’t easy skipping some fun events and trips or activities through the years. We can make up for them all now though if you want!
Another big thanks for my support team at the triathlon yesterday. Mom, Dad, Erin, Mattie Vance, Ashley and Zach Schroetar. I couldn’t have done it without you. Also my swimming coach Sara Flemming and my friends at the Mother House swimming pool for months of being my swimming buddy. I’m planning more fun events for the future, longer runs, longer bike rides, probably another triathlon or two. All while touring full time across the country! I can’t wait to see what Big Adventures lay ahead of me!
My favorite group of verses through the years Psalm 23
The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
3 he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
for his name’s sake.
4 Even though I walk
through the darkest valley,[a]
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
6 Surely your goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord
God’s got big plans, it’s often hard to see what they are or why we have to go through trials, but I’m living one day at a time being Thankful!