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What It's Like to Run While Living With Multiple Chronic Illnesses

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Having more than one chronic health issue is hard. Especially the ones that affect you every single day. I struggle with scoliosis, fibromyalgia and several different brain diseases. One in particular being chronic migraines. I get about four to five a week and for us who experience migraines, we know how debilitating they are. They make me throw up, cause me to be sensitive to light, sound, and smell.

Scoliosis is extremely tricky because that has a pain that never goes away. It’s a pain that is always there. And there are no two cases alike. Everyone’s spine is different and mine keeps twisting and relocating my ribs. It makes it hard to breathe, sit and stand. And sleep? What is that?

But one of the worst parts of living with chronic pain is when you are, or at least try, to be an active person. I am a runner. A marathoner. My running days keep getting cut shorter and shorter. Recently I ran a half marathon race that started off with me sick as I experienced a horrible migraine that affected my vision – and I was experiencing nausea due to the seizure I had a few days prior.

A picture of the writer running in a race.

It is a frustrating pair of shoes to be in because I’ve gone from always being active, to slowly not being able to function sometimes. Having to be careful because I don’t know when my next seizure will be or when I’ll have my next mini stroke makes me feel like I am living my life on the edge. I feel like I live life in a state of frustration.

But I am also a fighter. That half marathon I began on the floor. I did not want to get up and run 13.1 miles. Every time I stood up my entire world would spin and I felt like I was going to pass out, but that was my migraine trying to control me. Every time I took a breath my ribs hurt, but that was my scoliosis trying to stop me. Every time my skirt brushed up against my leg, it felt like my skin was on fire, but that was my fibromyalgia trying to tell me no.

It’s what happens when all of my illnesses decide to party together and make it horrible for me. But even if I fight with tears and screams, I will not go down without a fight. And every day that is exactly what I do. When I open my eyes, I never know what the day will bring or if I can do what I love to – running. But I will continue to fight all my incurable diseases. They keep getting worse and I try to keep my strength up, they do take a toll. But I am lucky to have a strong support system. So continue on and with each step I make, I fight against it all because while I run, I am winning against my illnesses.

Originally published: April 27, 2018
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