I have never been a distance runner - I was a sprinter/hurdler/high jumper/swimmer mostly, so the challenge of seeing if I can run any kind of distance is a big one. As well as AS I also have hypermobility syndrome - a weird but common enough condition. The combination has ended up in them trying to convert me into the million dollar woman - I certainly feel if after 19 orthopaedic ops - 15 of them since 2002. The metalwork in my lower back was specially imported from the US at the cost of £80k (thank you BUPA!) - but what a piece of kit - the screws holding the rods in place have heads that move when I move, so I have better movement than I had pre-op and no leg pain any more : ) I put that op off for 10 years as I could still ski and still walk a decent distance, and that's all that mattered. Now I can walk so much faster and for longer than for years. The last 15 years have been one op after another as I'm pretty good at ignoring what my body is telling me and keep pushing on - life isn't a dress rehearsal! I tore the ACL in my left knee in 2012 while skiing (exactly a year after the back surgery) - I got carried away with feeling good and a short while after that, had a bad fall during which my skis didn't come off. I strapped up the sore knee even tighter and carried on and had three more very similar falls that week as my knee kept giving way. Where there's no sense, there's no feeling ;) A while after that I tripped over a kerb coming out of a concert and ran head first into a brick gatepost then I started losing sensation in my feet and hands and as the weeks went by, that gradually spread. Thankfully everything still works, I just can't feel it working very well. A couple of months later after a full spinal scan, the problem was finally found in my neck where my spinal cord was being compressed by bony bars that had grown across two of my neck vertebrae and in the fall, the spinal cord had been slightly damaged by the bars. In October 2013 they removed the bony bars, then fused the two vertebrae together to hold everything steady.
I've tried running so many times in the last four years but rapidly develop a banging migraine that stops me in my tracks. I also get pretty bad lower pain back when I run too, but I'm not going to stop trying. I will run again in future because all of you superstars do tougher things every day of the week and every single one of you is an inspiration. You all ran for NASS, and one day soon I hope, I will run for NASS. In the meantime I'll walk and ski and I'll pedal like fury on my exercise bike - fast, slow, long or short, just so long as I stay active I'll be winning :)