Mucker Q&A – Danielle Cook, Team Muddy Muckers, MuckFest MS St. Louis
MuckFest MS: Tell us about yourself.
Danielle: I am a 32 year old wife, mother of 2 amazing boys, daughter, sister, niece, aunt, friend, and fighter! In December 2010, I woke up to optic neuritis (a condition consisting of inflammation of the optic nerve which may cause partial or complete vision loss that may be temporary or permanent) in my right eye. I have been legally blind in my left eye due to amblyopia since childhood. Injury to my “good” eye has always been one of my biggest fears. That fear was now standing in front of me, quite literally in my face. Statistically, I had a great chance of recovering my vision. A 95% chance. Well, I should play the lotto! Eight months later, I experienced severe nerve pain in my chest and arms as the worst of several mystery symptoms. This sent me back to the doctor and prompted a series of long and unpleasant tests. I fought through anxiety during lengthy MRIs, blood draws with stingy veins, a spinal tap, ultrasounds, and exams, exams, exams. I felt like a medical hot potato being passed from ER doctor to family doctor to general surgeon to ophthalmologist to neuro-ophthalmologist to neurologist, and finally, to an MS specialist.
Today, I live with an official diagnosis of multiple sclerosis. It has changed my life in so many ways, the biggest of which was leaving me legally blind in both eyes. My life is different but not worse. It is harder but no less rewarding. I am so incredibly blessed with an amazing support system of family and friends. They remind me every day of how strong I can be and are there to lend their strength on the days that I can’t.
Unfortunately, not everyone with a multiple sclerosis diagnosis is so lucky. I now have a true understanding of “help yourself by helping others.” MS is a disease as unique and different as the individuals who have it. There is one thing, however, that we all have in common, and that is the need for a cure. I participate in MuckFest MS not only for myself but for all individuals and their loved ones who are affected by multiple sclerosis. MS might slow us down, but it will not stop us!
MuckFest MS: Tell us about your first MuckFest MS.
Danielle: I was intimidated by the MuckFest MS course, because my optic neuritis left me legally blind in both eyes. I want to let others who face this challenge know that they should not let MS stop them. With a little help from my team, I not only attempted but completed the MuckFest MS course. Sure the pace was slow but hand in hand we crossed the finish line together. I cannot describe the feeling of accomplishment it gave me. Everyone involved was patient and encouraging. I am so happy to have done it, and I will do it every year that my body lets me!
MuckFest MS: What was the single most memorable part of your MuckFest MS experience?
Danielle: The single most memorable part of my MuckFest MS experience is almost impossible to narrow down. It was an entire day of fun and positive energy. Honestly, I would have to say that the most memorable part came before the actual event. It was all of the unexpected support and generosity our team received during our fundraising efforts – not just from our friends and family but also from total strangers. I realized that I would never be alone in this.
MuckFest MS: Do you have any advice for someone who has never completed this kind of event before?
Danielle: My advice to someone who has never completed this kind of event before would be to just do it. If I can do it anyone can. All you need to get you through it is a positive attitude! 🙂