with friends like this, i can stay in the race

Dec 4, 2014

I watched the Catching Kayla video a few weeks ago. Unlike most things I stumble across on the internet, this story has stuck with me, staying in my mind and teaching me lessons of life.

Kayla was a 14 year old girl who loved playing soccer when her feet suddenly started to tingle. The tingling spread until she had no feeling in her legs at all and she was diagnosed with MS. After figuring out a cocktail of medications that brought the sensations back to her legs, Kayla decided she wanted to run since she could no longer play soccer.

And run she did. Because of her courage and dedication, she went from a not-so-great runner to a strong, fast runner. Kayla has beautiful form and is a joy to watch run.

This part of the story alone was enough to inspire me. But there is more. During her runs, her body temperature rises which causes the tingling, numbness, and lack of sensation to return to her legs. In a way I can’t understand, she can keep running when this happens, but she can’t stop. Her coach has to catch her at the finish line and carry her out to the middle of the field to ice her down to lower her body temperature. When she collapses, she appears disabled and dependent. Her voice cries out “Help me!”

She runs with this wonderfully capable body and ends with a broken body that needs lots of help to be able to function again. She appears totally normal and I would think most people would never know anything is wrong with her.

Just like me.

I get it. I look normal. I can walk and talk and look completely and totally capable one minute and then seconds later be in a heap on the floor unconscious and incapable of taking care of myself.

Yesterday it happened again. A big group of friends had a lunch date at Red Robin. We laughed our heads off, ate delicious food, and buoyed up each other. Aside from lying down in our booth instead of sitting, I looked completely normal. I felt completely normal. And then I stood up. My heart rate jumped up to 130 immediately and I started to lose consciousness right there in the restaurant. The poor diners next to us were probably wondering what the heck was going on as my friends got my body to lie down, my legs elevated a bit (I think in someone’s arms?), and ran to get Jen’s Yukon. I started shaking a bit and I’m sure was a sight to see.

After a few minutes, I thought I was stable enough to walk out. I did okay for the first 30 feet and then I knew I was going down again. We made it into the car just as I collapsed a second time and this time passed out.

The cycle I dislike ever so much started with violent shaking, then passing out over and over again. My friends were holding me, assessing my heart rate, making sure I didn’t fall out of my seat, and doing all they could to help my body calm down. At one point I started throwing up which is about my least favorite activity in the world. These five ladies dealt with the awful stench, held bags in front of me, cleaned up the puke in my hair, helped me in and and out of the car so I could get it all out in a parking lot instead of a bag, and did all of it with compassion. Every time I would throw up, the shaking and passing out cycle would start again. Oh my. It was a doozy.

By the time the day was done I think I threw up in four different parking lots, passed out 10-ish times, thought I was going to be run over by Jennifer as the car started rolling into me on one of the throw up episodes, had a police officer come over to assess the situation of the shaking, crying, heaving woman who keeps losing consciousness, and thoroughly peed my pants during the endless retching…all out in public for all the world to see.

Oh, my goodness. Mortification sets in if I allow myself to think about it too much.

But this morning, I am thinking of Kayla and her courage to keep running in spite of the embarrassing things her body does at the end of the race. I want to keep doing the things I love even if it means my body falls apart. My body handles things pretty well if I stay home lying in bed or in my chair. I can do learning stuff with my children, direct the affairs of our home, send emails, and even do a little housework. It is when I go out that the troubles start. I don’t want to always stay home. I want to do fun things with my friends. I want to teach gymnastics and other classes. I want to be able to do my own grocery shopping. I want stay in the race.

And I think Kayla’s courage to keep running is the visual I need to keep running my own race even if it means other people see my body do embarrassing things. Life is worth living!

And because I have THE BEST friends who keep catching me when I fall, I can stay in the race. Thank you, dear ones, for allowing me to have a life outside of my home – I couldn’t do this without you!

Related Posts


  1. Bawling heart shaped tears. Love you. Xoxo

  2. Tami

    I love that video of Kayla, I love your thoughts on it and I especially LOVE you! I don’t think you could stay out of the race even if you wanted to ;). Missing you!

    • tracy

      Kat, Jen, Heather, Paula, Sheri, Liz, and I were totally going to call you and sing to you on your birthday. But then all this ridiculousness happened and I was down for the count. I hope your day was FANTABULOUS!

      After days like yesterday I wonder if I should just stay home, but you are right, I need to be in the race!

      Love you!

  3. Sheri

    I wish we could have a video of you during your daily “race”. I wish everyone could see how strong, fast and beautifully you function. It is a joy to watch. Then you could “see” how important it is to all of us that you keep “running the race”. You are an inspiration to all of us.

    • tracy

      Ahhh, Sheri, thank you for those words. I love you!