Hey there, Muckers! Today, we’re excited to hear from Heather Briese of team Spider Pigs. Heather will be getting mucky for the very first time on Saturday at MuckFest® MS Twin Cities.
The National MS Society became important to me after my own diagnosis. I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis on April 28, 2014. My family has a history of cancer – I’ve lost my mom, my uncle, and my grandparents to the disease – so for my entire life I had sort of conditioned myself to be ready to hear the words “you have cancer.” When I felt numb on that early Sunday morning last April, I went in to Urgent Care thinking that I either had a tumor, had suffered a stroke, or had MS. The doctor assured me that I had none of them.
I was substitute teaching that following Friday when my fellow teachers asked me what was wrong – why was I limping. I had pain in my hip and didn’t think much of it, but I went ahead and made an appointment with a neurologist the following week. She was amazing and did a full work up, scheduled me for an MRI that afternoon, and called me that night to schedule a spinal tap.
In hindsight, I would say that I had been having symptoms all winter long. I made the comment when teaching one day that my eyes were “weird,” I frequently said that I felt like I was drunk, and I told my sister I thought I had Restless Leg Syndrome. Then, at the age of 43, I heard the words I won’t ever forget: “I’m sorry to tell you, but you have MS.” It was a shock.
I started meds in mid-May that made me sick throughout the summer. I was down in the dumps, and I couldn’t teach the rest of the year after I started the medication because I was so sick. I was miserable and really upset.
I heard about MuckFest MS last year but I wasn’t ready to sign up for it, emotionally or physically. So I made the decision that I was going to do it in 2015. First, I ABSOLUTELY LOVE MUD!!!! When we go 4-wheeling, the more mud I can find, the happier I am! So I have to say that was probably the first draw for me. The second draw of MuckFest MS is pretty obvious. It is supporting the National MS Society, and I thought, “What better way to support them?”
I told my family that I wanted to do MuckFest MS, and they said they wanted to join me. I figured it was going to be me, my husband, my daughter, and my son. I was doing this for obvious reasons: to feel like I could do it and to overcome the things this disease has thrown at me. What I never expected was this: my sister signed up, along with her oldest child, then a classmate of ours and his wife, some firefighters (my husband’s been on the department for 18 years) signed up with their spouses, a classmate of my daughter from beauty school, and my brother-in-law and his wife. What I thought was going to be a small group of us has grown to more than I could possibly imagine. These people didn’t have to spend the money to register, to run next to me, or to take a Saturday out of their precious early fall. But they did, and I cannot tell you how beyond grateful I am to them! I am still in shock, to be honest!
As this is my first MuckFest MS event, I have to say that I am most excited for the mud! Seriously I am, but I have to admit that I am kind of nervous. My legs tend to hurt very easily. When my husband and I go for walks, we don’t go very long distances because my legs get so tired, and sometimes my foot drops…it stinks! But I am excited and truly honored to have all of these wonderful people come out with me and to have, what I can only imagine, is going to be a wonderful time!
If I could share a message with all of the Muckers out there, I would say “thank you” to those of you who do not battle this disease on a daily basis: to the caregivers, the families, and friends, your love and support does not go unnoticed! To those of us who do battle this disease, we’re not alone! Even on the darkest days when you feel things could not get worse, always remember that there are others out there you can lean on! Whether it’s a support group you physically go to, an online support group, or whatever else it may be, reach out because chances are someone out there is either feeling the same thing or might have just the right words or encouragement at just the right time! Because of all of us out there mucking it and doing our part, my hope is that together we can #EraseMS!!