My MS story starts what seems like a lifetime ago (probably because it kind of was!). 26 years ago, at the age of 29, I was pretty much living the dream. Recently married, good job, super active, and a father to a new 2-month-old. Things were great! My wife Lisa and I were cruising along, just trying to figure out this parenthood thing as normal young parents do. I woke up on a Saturday in May 1993 with the right side of my face completely numb. Being stubborn I blew it off and figured it would go away. Lisa was not so accepting and urged me to go get it checked out. By Monday, it had gotten worse to the point of my face drooping and started moving to the left side. I was also experiencing some numbness and tingling down my right side. After weeks of testing, I remember laying in a hospital bed after my lumbar puncture and a doctor said to me- “I’m sorry but your diagnosis is Multiple Sclerosis”. I really didn’t know what MS was…and that is when it all began.
It’s been a roller coaster of emotions, these last 26 years, as I’m still learning how to deal with the uncertainties of MS. My doctor at the time told me one thing that I took to heart -“You are healthy, active and in great shape. Don’t change a thing and keep living your life. Stay healthy and active and we will deal with things as they come. You can live a normal life with this.” I took this advice and RAN with it! PUN INTENDED!
Since that day, I have been on a daily mission to stay as active and healthy as possible, all while doing whatever I can to raise awareness for MS. My personal fight against MS has turned into a lifelong passion of both living healthy and trying to do what I can to help others that are far more affected by this disease than myself. I am truly blessed to have the support of my wife, Lisa, and my three wonderful kids- Julianne, Claire, and Will. They have all taken part in volunteering with different organizations that raise awareness and funds to fight MS. I also have hundreds of friends and co-workers that have supported me by participating in my fundraisers both physically and financially. I am truly blessed for the support system that I have.
When I was diagnosed in 1993, a couple of friends and I decided to ride in the MS150 here in mid-Missouri to support our local MS Society. We were newbie bike riders with no idea what we were doing. We had a blast and it started what is now our 25th consecutive year of doing BikeMS. I am the team captain of our team Bad Case of The Shifts. It’s a team made up of several fellow MS Warriors, family members, friends, and co-workers. We have about thirty riders that share our passion to try and find an end to this disease.
For the first seven years or so, after being diagnosed, I was not on any drug therapy since the options were very limited and the side effects were somewhat intense. However, in 2002 I started having some more serious numbness down my right side with shocking sensations. My doctor and I decided it was time to start medications which involved a daily self-injection. Starting injections was a little scary at first, but after a few injections, it wasn’t a big deal. Life goes on. After 15 years of injections, I have now moved on to a daily oral medication. So far, so good!
In 2000, I took my health to a whole new level and started getting into long-distance running. I ran my first marathon and was hooked! Since then I’ve run 24 marathons including Boston as part of the Boston Strides against MS team. It was such an amazing experience. I also took part in a cross country running relay for MS named MSRUNTHEUS. My leg of the relay was 200 miles in 9 days from Steamboat, CO to Denver. Truly one of the most amazing experiences of my life.
I’m a firm believer that staying as healthy as possible has helped me both physically and mentally in my daily fight. I know I’m doing something to help myself and it creates a mental escape from the daily grind of living with MS. My life is not perfect, I still deal with the daily ups and downs of what MS throws at me. However, with a positive attitude, a health-centered lifestyle, and the support of friends and family, we can live productive lives with MS. Stay Positive and keep moving!!