Category Archives: Health

Our first 5K

The Mason State Bank 5k Run 2016:
Mindy – Age 38 – 39:42
Luke – Age 8 – 31:07

People, people. My son’s and my first 5k was a huge success. I achieved my goals and then some. And Luke, not knowing at all what to expect, ran an amazing race. He said aside from the day he was born, which of course he doesn’t remember, this was the Best. Day. Ever. He was over the moon excited, and is already talking about his next 5k. I think we have ourselves another runner in the family.

2016-05-07 20.31.22

What an amazing experience this was. I had no doubt that I would finish the race, and without much walking even. So there was no surprise there. The best part about this race though, was that I felt immensely supported by my family and friends. My brother and sister, who are both rock star runners and have been such motivation to me personally, were both there. My sister-in-law, my two nephews, my father-in-law, a couple dear friends even. All of them came. I even had one friend who told me just hours before the race that she was going to run it too! And even those who couldn’t make it wished me well beforehand and I truly felt them there in spirit. And while my husband was not there at the end (he was helping our daughter start her one mile race), he was there to give me good luck kiss at the starting line. He’s been my biggest fan through this whole process. He helped me find good running gear, like breathable shorts and shirts, and decent running shoes (my slip-on Sketchers were laughable for distance running). Just hearing him say how proud he is of me helps to keep me going. After all, I’m doing this for him and the kids. I want to be healthy, and I want to be around for them as long as I can.

The actual race was fairly uneventful. I think I must have been a little nervous, but I held onto my cookies (mostly). It really helped having a friend running beside me (at least until I left her in the dust after the first mile lol). I kept a good pace the whole time, and only tripped on my toes once, but recovered gracefully with a skip and kept on plugging away. At mile 2 (I think) my sister was waiting to take a picture, and then joined in and jogged beside me for awhile. That was nice because when you feel sluggish, like a tortoise crawling through molasses, it’s nice to have a distraction. My sister is one tough broad and she is an enthusiastic supporter. It was really, really, fun to run beside her, even if it was only for a portion of the race.

The final stretch of the race was up a major hill, and when I got to the top I was not only taxed, but couldn’t see where the finish line was. I knew it was near the end because of all the people standing around (and the smell of food from the local vendors) but the actual finish was just far enough out of my visual field that I wasn’t sure. So I decided to walk just then, to rest my legs and give myself time to gain a better awareness of my surroundings. After a few steps though, I looked to my right and I could see what I assumed to be the finish line, so I started running again. As I ran I started to recognize the banner reading “FINISH” and I started to get a smidge emotional. Not wanting to be a bawling mess at the end, I covered my face and tried to breathe as slowly as possible. As I crossed the line I saw my brother and Luke running towards me to congratulate me and bring me a water bottle. And, of course, to make sure I made it safely to a sitting position. My left leg was genuinely out of commission for a good 10 minutes. I did manage to withhold most of the tears, and just enjoyed the moment. I did it. I ran a 5k, all the way. And I can’t wait to do it again.



Oh, the days

There are some days that I feel the need to  emotionally crawl back into my safe little cave. I kind of know why this happens ever so often, and I know it always passes eventually, so I’m not worried about it. I am thankful on days like these that I’m not responsible for anything urgent or super-important. Not exactly. My responsibilities involve feeding the people and keeping things clean-ish and supplies stocked. I generally give those responsibilities my 100% effort, but I’m sure we would all survive even if I gave half that.  So on days like these when I can only muster 70%, we’re doing just fine. I’m not sure anyone will even notice. In fact, when it means processed, frozen burritos for dinner instead of my homemade beef stew, the kids are actually thankful for my slacker status. They love those burritos.

My 5k race is coming up in three whole days! I don’t think I’m nervous. It’s my first race ever, so I don’t have many expectations. If I finish on my feet I’ll be happy. I heard a song awhile back come up on my Pandora station and while it’s not the best tempo for running, the lyrics gave me some motivation. Don’t judge; it was a song by Eminem. I’m trying to hit “like” on songs that sound good to my new ears, and my musical tastes have changed quite drastically. Everything just sounds so different to me now. So I guess New Mindy enjoys some Eminem and can tolerate the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Anyhoo, the song that caught my ears is called “Till I Collapse”, and after reading the lyrics online, I can honestly apply a lot of the sentiment to my philosophy on this running thing. Of course Mr. Mathers was surely rapping about something else entirely, but the nice thing about music is you can make it what you want. What it means to you is just that – what it means to you. Here is the chorus to the song:

“‘Cause sometimes you just feel tired, you feel weak
And when you feel weak you feel like you want to just give up
But you gotta search within you, you gotta find that inner strength
And just pull that **** out of you and get that motivation to not give up
And not be a quitter, no matter how bad you want to just fall flat on your face and collapse”

What’s kind of funny to me is that the fear that kept me from running at first was the fear of falling flat on my face. And if I do, I do. Whatever. In the song he talks about inner strength, but my strength does not come from within. My strength comes from God. He gives me the strength I need, when I need it. So when I feel like quitting, that is where I turn.  I will look to my Savior to keep me going. He has never failed me, never left my side, and together we will run this race!

Training for health

Today was my first attempt at running outside. No treadmill. I tried to have zero expectations. I really tried. But when my foot drop showed up 1/3 of a mile in to the run and I started to feel extreme disappointment, I realized I did have some expectation after all.

I guess I expected it to be more like running on the treadmill. It was nothing like it. Entirely different, in fact. I was surprised. And a lot disappointed. I did not expect the foot drop to show up so soon. And let me tell you, I had felt really ridiculous and self-conscious from the very beginning, so the foot drop didn’t help. I felt like a three-legged duck.

So the foot drop was there, looming, threatening to put me flat on my face. I tripped on my toes a few times, but continued running anyway. Because I gotta get home somehow, right? And this run was really just a test to see what pace I run when I don’t have the treadmill telling me how fast I’m going. There was one trip about halfway through the run that almost took me down, but I caught myself and immediately decided to walk for a bit to allow me to rest my legs (and sooth my ego). Then I started running again. Slowly, and with small steps, SLOOOOOW-motion for sure, but I was moving! And not falling. My biggest fear is falling.

You know what though? Falling is not failing. If I fall, I can’t take the blame for it. My body chooses to do things without my permission. But I can choose to focus on what is within my control. I can keep moving. The more I move, the more I stay at it, the stronger my legs will be, the stronger my core muscles (needed for balance!) will be, and it will get better. I know this is true because I am doing more than I ever thought was possible even a year ago. I am pushing my body slowly, one day at a time, to go a little bit farther. This is one big test, to see what this body is capable of. And I am thanking the Lord that it’s not disappointing me.

I have a 5k race in less than 2 weeks. I have revised my goal slightly after today’s run outside. It was initially to finish in less than 40 minutes. I’m not sure if I can do that in two weeks, so my goal now is simply to finish. Period. Run, walk, crawl, whatever it takes. I will finish this race. And then I will continue on. I will keep running. I will keep pushing. This is not just a 5k I’m training for. I am training for my health.

A case of the Mondays? Almost.

I tried really hard not to let Monday be the way Mondays can be, overwhelming and all. I think I did okay, despite it trying really hard to kick my butt.

I have a recurring muscle spam in my left shoulder and it was back with a vengeance today. When the pain is in full force it radiates all the way down my left arm, and it makes anything but standing up straight extremely painful. So resting was even hard to do. Go figure.

So I spent a good portion of my day trying to calm the spasm. Ice, Epsom salt baths, heating pad. Nothing has really worked, only made it somewhat tolerable.

But while that was the bulk of my day, I did have some positive moments. My new contact lenses came in the mail. And I made chicken noodle soup for dinner, which happens to be one of the few foods my entire family enjoys. So that made for a pleasant dinner time as we all just enjoyed the food and each other’s company. Still, we have leftovers, come on over! 🙂

Oh and my sister and I chatted our excitement about our upcoming appointment to get the matching tattoos we finally decided on after talking about for years (pardon the run-on). More on that later, and if later enough, with pictures!

Thanks for listening, folks. It means the world to me.

When you realize you have the power to change

In some of the circles I associate with, people with MS will often say, “I have MS, but MS doesn’t have me.” It’s a statement meant to convey courage and determination that MS will not keep them down. They are not willing to admit defeat. And while I’m not one of those who often repeats that phrase, I definitely agree with the sentiment.

However, I came to a realization about a month ago. In some ways, MS did “have” me. Sure, I still smile and make jokes, and I don’t complain much about the invisible symptoms I’m experiencing. But on some level I was still letting the diagnosis limit me.

I’ve never been a fan of running, but I do acknowledge the benefits of it. My siblings are runners, one cousin, a few friends. They all thoroughly enjoy the experience of it. Also, my son loves to run, and we’ve talked over the past year about running a 5k together. I know my body can’t run a 5k at this point, but I haven’t been training for it. Why? Because I was scared. Mostly scared of losing my balance mid-stride and falling flat on my face, but also afraid that on the last lap my nerves would decide to stop communicating with my feet and I would not only fall, but land myself in another full-blown relapse.

There are so many problems with this thinking. One, I’m letting fear make the decision for me. I don’t care for making any decisions out of fear, ever. Two, there is absolutely no record, that I know of, of exercise causing an MS relapse. It just doesn’t happen.

And I don’t know how I came to this realization exactly, I just remember that I did. And when I did, I got mad. But only long enough to let it motivate me to do something about it. So I decided to make a commitment to getting on the treadmill DAILY, and we would just see how it goes. Treadmill running is not ideal, but it works. I get to stay home, so I can run in my pajamas (and I do, believe me). It doesn’t matter what the weather is like outside, so there is no room for excuses there. And there are handles to hold onto in case I start losing my balance. It’s a win all around.

I’ve been running for 3 weeks minus most of last week (self-diagnosed bronchitis) and I’m feeling stronger already. My energy level definitely feels more balanced than it was. Also, I’ve lost 3 pounds I didn’t expect to lose, so that’s an added bonus. Love it when my pants fit better! I’m on a couch to 5k program. It’s supposed to be 3 times per week, but I’m doing it every day because I know it would feel like I’m skipping a day and then I would just lose momentum. So that’s victory #1.

Victory #2 involves the training of our dog. It’s actually a lot of little victories, so I’ll save that explanation for another post later this week. I promise I’ll try to make it sound as exciting as I feel. I guess if you have any idea how much I have hated this dog (but don’t anymore), you will be able to share in my excitement. So stay tuned, folks! I’m still here!

MS buttkicking

Most days I feel like I’m kicking butt. Today was not one of those days. My butt got kicked. It wasn’t a super hot day, but it was humid, and I was working in the house without the air conditioning on. I let myself get overheated, and here it’s 9pm and I’m calling it a night. My feet are burning, my legs are twitchy and slow to respond, and my balance is shot. I fell once already today, but then again as I was walking down the hallway (thank goodness for walls). Most days I am able to forget I have MS. Then it creeps up and reminds me it’s still here.

Not to worry. A night of rest will serve me well, and I will keep moving forward. Because I may have MS, but MS will never have me.

Dehydration is dangerous

I had an interesting conversation with my cousin yesterday about water. We humans don’t drink nearly enough water. I would guess that most people walk around severely dehydrated, and don’t even know it. Why don’t they know it? Because no one told them that our bodies need it, and lots of it,  in order to function properly. Or maybe they know, but don’t care. They feel fine, or only have minor issues that they can’t directly link to dehydration. Well, I have good, smart doctors who tell me that I need to drink water, and that it can heal a lot of my issues. And it’s true! I’ve been really intentional the last few weeks about drinking plenty of water and it’s paying off. I lost weight, my blood pressure is back to a healthier range, and I’ve been far less irritable (just ask my husband).

So, it’s jungle hot in Michigan these last few days, and my poor impatiens in my front porch planter are thirsty flowers. But in the heat and sun, they are even more so. They need it to live. I water them every day, but today they were looking really sorry. They were shriveling up and threatening to quit on me. So I showered them with a couple pails of water to see what they do.

That’s how I felt today. I didn’t drink enough water yesterday as I was away from home – at my big brother’s wedding! Yay! – and I had a feeling I would pay for it. I did. I woke at 6 am this morning with a massive headache that would not let up. I was shriveled up and threatened to quit, but instead I got right up and chugged some water, packed the kids’ lunches for zoo camp, and of course went back to bed. But nap #1 did not bring relief. It took a lot more water, another nap, and finally I resorted to a dose of naproxen sodium (out of desperation). It is just past 4 pm and I am finally feeling human again.

I checked on my flowers, and they are perking up too. We’re all kinds of perky around here! Drink your water, folks! Stay hydrated!!