...man, this is hard to write... here we go. As you may or may not know, I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis a little over 3 years ago. MS is a chronic and often debilitating disease that attacks the central nervous system. It can cause an array of symptoms; MS is unpredictable and affects every individual differently. I have been fortunate in so many ways. Fortunate to have excellent medical care. Fortunate to have the most incredible support system. Fortunate to be feeling really, really good. (Not to brag, but have you seen my yoga moves?)
I first heard about MuckFest MS last fall. I had seen ads for Walk MS and Bike MS and Run MS, and always thought, "Nope. Not me." Partially because I hate to run, don't have a bike, and barely tolerate walking to the train to get to work. But then I got an email about MuckFest MS in Chicago. I thought maybe I could do that. It looks like a muddy jungle gym. I love playgrounds. It was almost a year away and registration wasn't for months, but I forwarded it to my sister and said, "Maybe would you do this with me?"
For the next few months, I went back and forth about whether I really wanted to do it. It wasn't the athletics that were holding me back, either. A few weeks after I was diagnosed in 2012, the Walk MS event was in Chicago. I considered it for a moment, but I wasn't even ready to accept the diagnosis. I didn't know what MS was going to look like for me in 3 weeks - in 6 months - in 2 years - in 5 years... I was too afraid to be face to face with any "worst case scenarios." I was already living my worst case scenario. Worst case scenario at that time was just having MS at all. I wasn't ready for more.
Now after three years, three different medications, countless needles and banging MRI machines, cutting out gluten (mostly), rotating vitamin combos, and one hilarious spinal tap (thanks to Todd), I kind of feel ready to do something public. I wasn't hiding from my diagnosis. I didn't avoid it if it came up in conversation. But to participate in the community is something completely different.
So I bit the bullet. I registered and started a team. And the next thing I knew, we had a crew of 14 Chicken MuckNuggets! I didn't initially plan to do any fundraising, but the reaction from my friends/family and their enthusiasm to join me in this muddy adventure lit a fire inside me. To date, we have raised $3,000 in support of the National MS Society and their mission. Every time we receive a new donation, no matter the size, my heart fills with pride and love and so many feelings. My eyes well with tears every. single. time. I am overwhelmed by the generosity I have seen from people. And "Thank You" just doesn't even begin to express the extent of my gratitude.
Like I said, I am fortunate in so many ways. I have been living with MS for over three years. I have accepted my new reality for now, but the thing that keeps me from fearing the next "worst case scenario" is learning about the medical breakthroughs that happen everyday. I believe that we will find a cure for MS in my lifetime. That is where all of these fundraising dollars are going. To end MS forever. But for now, I am celebrating my health at MuckFest MS next weekend with my incredible team, who I love so much. From the bottom of my heart, thank you for your support. Thank you for reading this. Thank you for being a friend.