from Be You, Be Real
Relapse is a word that every vasculitis patient fears. Those are unfortunately the words that my Rheumatologist uttered to me on Monday, February 6th. After 3 years and 8 months in remission, my immune system has again decided to go haywire again. For those are unfamiliar with vasculitis, vasculitis is inflammation of the small blood vessels the body. My specific vasculitis, Granulomatosis with Polyangitis (aka GPA or Wegener’s) affects my sinuses, ears, lungs, and kidneys. This diagnosis confirms something I had unfortunately suspected for well over a month. As a professional distance runner and vasculitis patient, I am used to all sorts of weird things happening, but the last 6 weeks have been plagued by just too many to ignore. I’ve had an ear infection for 6 weeks, body aches, lethargy, night sweats, bloody noses, coughing, shortness of breath, unexplained joint pains and a recurrent fever. Distance runners are incredibly in tune with there bodies, and I knew something was off in my early December workouts. I wanted to attribute it stress and other factors like getting sick, but in the back of my mind I knew the feeling wasn’t normal. To attempt to describe the feeling, it’s like running with a governor on. I could run paces and times that you should be, but they are much harder. I felt my energy was just being sucked away slowly. Despite the bad feeling, I kept telling myself I was alright because I was able to hit the times I needed, but deep down I knew I was lying to myself.
This relapse comes at a time when I was so excited to continue to climb the United States ranks in the mile and compete for a spot on the World Championship Team at 1500m this summer. My spirit is not broken though. I’m as motivated as ever to follow the doctors orders, get back into remission and get back on the circuit. I don’t know how long that will be, it could be a few months, or it could be a whole year. Never the less, I’m more prepared than ever to fight this and win. What’s insanely weird is the fact that I am less nervous about the coming months and treatment than I was about competing at the Olympic Trials this past summer. That tells you really how screwed up my 20’s were haha. But to all to all my friends and competitors, be glad I’m spotting you a few months to get in some training, I’ll be back!
While my last 2 relapses were plagued with depression and anxiety, this time I’m hell bent on not falling off that cliff. I also am no longer fighting for just myself. I am fighting for all of the warriors that are part of Vasculitis Foundation Team Brandon. Having the VF and VFTB behind me has given me a sense of purpose to this fight and journey and I won’t let everyone down. The next few months will be difficult and trying, but just like I have attacked my training the last 3 years, I am ready to attack my disease and get back to my life. One big thing we talk about as part of VFTB is not letting disease and life situations stop you from chasing a dream. Three years ago the thought of fighting through another relapse would have crippled me, but now with a purpose driven attitude I have the strength to take on this fight. It’s weird how calm and strong I have felt over the last few days since hearing this news. Having this mountain to climb in front of me has given me another obstacle to defeat and I’m ready.
To my partners, Skechers, AthletesInsight, Cocoa Elite, and AthleteBiz, I’ll be back before you know it. To my meet director friends, BHudgNasty will be back and better than ever I promise. The moment I’m cleared to train and race I’ll be calling! This is just part of the journey to 2020 and beyond. Thank you for being apart of this journey and I promise to always represent you all with pride.
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