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Jennifer's Story - A Guest Blog

Posted September 21, 2011 and tagged with guest.

Photo of Jennifer We first met Jennifer when she won one of our Facebook contests. (She won the shirt she is pictured wearing!) We were so impressed to learn she has Multiple Sclerosis but runs half marathons! We wanted to hear more of her story and share it with you, so here it is:

My name is Jennifer. I am a 32 year old teacher and mother to two wonderful children. Alek is seven and is nonverbal and has autism. Makenzi is two and a little “diva”. I live just outside of Savannah, GA. I was diagnosed with MS February 08, 2010. I was taken by surprised and was devastated but determined to not let this diagnosis define me!

I guess I will start my story with what I now know was the first signs of MS. In the fall of 2001 I was student teaching and my life was very stressful. I began to have eye pain and eventually woke up blind in the left eye one morning. I was diagnosed with optic neuritis. Immediately I was sent to a neurologist and under went many tests. All of which were negative for any signs of MS. I made it past the 5 year mark from recovery and assumed that MS would not affect me. I was wrong. In November of 2010 I started to get a familiar eye pain and figured that I should see the eye doctor. He checked me out and said everything was fine. He was about to walk out of the room and sat back down and decided to order a MRI. His exact words were, “Just so we can get a before picture in case you have problems later.” Well this picture ended up showing the MS. When I went to the neurologist in February, alone by the way because I never thought something like this would happen, I was floored and in shock. Why me? What did I do wrong? I already have a special needs son, what is going to be wrong with my daughter?

A few months prior to my diagnosis I decided that it was about time to lose the last twenty pounds that was lingering from my daughter. I began to work out with a friend and change some of my eating habits. Then I saw an advertisement for a 5K to benefit Autism. I took it as a sign and decided that I would start running and give it a try in honor of my Alek. A month after my diagnosis I ran my first 5K and boy was it hard! I finished in just over 37 minutes. The diagnosis gave me a drive to keep running and not let this define who I was. I ran a 5K a month from April 2010 to June 2010. I took off July and August. I ran one every month there after to finish out the year, even the bridge run. My best 5K time was 28 minutes and 20 seconds!! In 2011, I have run 5 races so far. I am signed up for an Autism run in October and one every month after that for the rest of the year. The biggie is the Rock N Roll Marathon. I am signed up to do the half (13.1 miles) and my goal is to run at least 7 miles without stopping to walk! I will continue to stay on top of MS! I will continue to push myself to be active! I will not let MS control me! I am determined to run, live life, enjoy the small things, and not worry too much about what could be!

Comments

  • Jennifer, that you for sharing your story. Back in 2000 I was having symptoms of MS but never but two and two together. I had a go worker with MS. Sadly he didn't speak much about it and I never in a billion years thought that was going on with me. At the time I was in the best shape of my life. I had just quit smoking, I power walked 5 - 6 miles a day, I strengthed trained at home. My symptons started with weakness, heaviness & 24/7 burning, tingling pain in my legs. I attributed it to my work out routine. I went 7 years with living in pain and when I think back think back, I had other symptoms that were randon and when my face went numb, I couldn't speak & was slurring they told me I was having an anxiety attack. Each visit to a new dr. showed high Epstien Barr levels and it wasn't until a bad fall in the fall of 2006 and EBV levels off the chart that I found a realtion between MS & EBV. In 2007 I thought I would never walk again. It was a very cold winter in NJ & In March 2007 I traveled 2 1/2 hours to a neurologist who was recommended by a friend who had MS to only be told "Well Maybe you Do & Maybe you Don't" after a 5 minute examination. I was furious and diagnosed myself as crazy. At the time, I also had the luxury of working at home. The real estate market was hot and I could pick and couse my hours.It wasn't until the the market started to crash and I found a full time job that I slowly started to get back into my walking routine. I would force myself to use the steps and at lunch I had the luxury of the Atlantic City Boardwalk just blocks away to take a leisurely walk. I started a daily routine in September 2007 and on December 23, 2007 I ran, for the first time in my entire 44 years of life. From then, as you well know, running became my addiction and I participated in my 1st 5K on March 17, 2008 with 5 more in the next two years. My mantra became "I Run to Walk". I still had symptoms but brushed them off. It wasn't until the beginning of 2010 that things slowly started to deteriorate and by May 26, 2010 I was barely able to walk. That particular day, my boss pleaded with me to call my Dr. I finally conceeded and when I left early that day, I never ever, ever thought that would be my last day at work. My Officialy dx was on Oct. 27, 2010. It was bittersweet as I finally had a diagnosis, wasn't crazy and a plan. It has been rocky at times, and just recently my walking has improved where I no longer use a walker or cane. I am hoping that I will be able to walk the 6 miles for our local MS Walk in May. As of my post, I hope you are still running. Running is the most awesome, natural high. I hope some day to run again and perhaps some day we can run together.

    Lee Domenico said (1 year, 1 month ago)

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