Thursday, April 5, 2018

GUEST POST: TN Won't Stop Me by Stephanie

If you've been around my corner of the InterWebs for a while, you may have picked up on the fact that I have a chronic illness. I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia in ninth grade and it's been a bit of a cluster ever since. At the time I was diagnosed, I was told that I wouldn't die from it, but would die with it... So, over the years, I've had to choose to run through the pain, through the flare ups, through the episodes and make the decision that my disease will not run my life... I will run my life! Having to live with constant pain is hard enough, but having few people truly understand what you are going through can be just as bad. Stephanie is someone who also deals with a chronic pain condition and is doing her darnedest to not let it stop her from living (and running) her life and I hope you take a moment to read a bit of her story.

In 2012, nearing the age of 40, I started running in a quest to get healthier. My boyfriend, now husband, knew how much running meant to me and proposed at the finish line of one of my half marathons. Life was great; running was awesome, but in February 2015 the disease called Trigeminal Neuralgia (TN) found me and has relentlessly stalked me ever since! This disease has been called the "suicide disease" due to the number of people who commit suicide to stop the pain. 


TN is a rare neurological disease that causes "lightening sharp" pain through the three branches of nerves on either side of the face. For me, the disease effects my right side. These attacks can be triggered by anything -- from brushing your hair or teeth (ya that hurts!) to the wind blowing on your face (let's talk about how hard it is to run without some sort of breeze hitting you). My TN also came with unexplained brain swelling, so my neurologist pulled the plug on my running!


Anyone who knows me will tell you that I don't take "You can't" as an order, but simply as a challenge! I see limitations as a chance to prove to myself "I can"! So through all the doctors visits, blood tests, MRIs, and spinal taps I put on my big girl pants and pushed forward like never before. I was determined to not let this condition beat me, and to continue running!

Just because my doctors said I couldn't didn't mean I wouldn't. I knew my body and what I could ask of it. As you could expect, I wasn't physically able to train as much as I would have liked over the following 8 months, but I did what I could when I could. Even still, the first race after my diagnosis was excruciating. Around Mile 10 I had massive pressure due to brain swelling and a bloody nose once I stopped running, but I pushed through and finished!

After that, I slowly started to increase my training mileage and found that unlike what the doctors had said, running seemed to ease the symptoms of this disease. When the attacks occurred during a run, I taught myself to push through them while making sure to never put myself in danger! With a greater sense of accomplishment and because of never giving up, I was able to complete 24 half marathons and my first full marathon in 2016!

Nowadays, I still have flare ups and some sort of pain daily (sometimes it can be strong enough to completely stop me in my tracks), but like Forest Gump... I keep running! Through my running I want to show others that chronic pain (specifically Trigeminal Neuralgia) doesn't have to stop their lives! Even in pain, I run my life! My life, My journey!


RIGHT ON! I love that Stephanie hasn't let her disease define her. She is still out there kick butt and taking names! And if you want to follow along on her journey, make sure to catch her on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. She is one inspiring mama who won't let her circumstances get in the way of what she wants to accomplish in life. YOU GO GIRL!

When someone tells you that you can't do something, does that tend to hold you back or push you forward?

1 comment:

Terra Heck said...

This is the first I've heard of TN. I admire her dedication and fight in continuing to run even through the pain.