Running Helped This Woman Cope After She Was Diagnosed with a Rare Muscle Disease
We dare you not to feel inspired to tackle challenges after reading about Sara Hosey's journey.
The ability to move is something you probably subconsciously take for granted, and no one knows that more than runner Sara Hosey. The 32-year-old from Irving, TX, was recently diagnosed with myasthenia gravis (MG), an extremely rare neurological disease characterized by weakness and rapid fatigue of muscles you consciously control throughout the body.
Hosey has been running since she was in college, actively participating in 5Ks and half marathons. Running became a part of her life, and she never thought twice about lacing up whenever she wanted. A stressful day at work? Nothing a quick jog couldn't cure. Trouble sleeping? A long run would help wear her out. (Here are 11 science-backed reasons running is really good for you.)
Then one day during the summer of last year, she unexpectedly started slurring while having dinner with her family. "I had been feeling extra tired for the past few weeks, but I just chalked it up to work stress," says Hosey. "Then one night I could barely chew on my food and started slurring my words. That happened three times over two weeks before I finally decided to go to the hospital."
After doing a series of tests, including a CT and MRI, doctors still couldn't figure out what was wrong. "I felt so helpless and out of control, so I turned to the one thing that had always kept me grounded: running," she says.
She decided to sign up and start training for the United Airlines New York City Half Marathon, her fourth race at that distance. "I just wanted to feel like I had power over something, and I knew running would help me do that," says Hosey. (Did you know that a "runner's high" is actually a real, scientifically proven thing?)
For the next nine months, her symptoms persisted, which made training harder than ever before. "My body never felt like I was building any endurance," says Hosey. "I have always used the Hal Higdon Novice 1 to train and I did for this one as well. But my muscles never got any better like they used to. I could barely make it a mile during training runs before I had to stop. I did every training run (except a few) and my endurance just never improved."
During this time, doctors still couldn't pinpoint what was wrong with her. "I did a lot of research myself, and came across MG online," says Hosey. "I recognized a lot of the symptoms and decided to ask my doctor for a specific blood test for the illness." (Related: Google's New Health Search Will Help You Find Accurate Medical Info Online)
Then, in February of this year, just weeks before she was set to run the half marathon, doctors confirmed her suspicions. Hosey did, in fact, have MG-a disease that does not yet have a cure. "Honestly, it was kind of a relief," she says. "I was no longer living in doubt and fearing for the worst."
Doctors told that because of her excellent physical health, the disease hadn't impacted her as quickly as it would have with someone who was less fit. Still, "I wasn't sure what this diagnosis meant for the future, so I was determined to continue my training and do the half no matter what," she says. (Just signed up for a race and have no idea where to start? This half marathon training plan should help.)
Hosey kept true to the promise she made to herself and completed the half marathon in NYC this past weekend. "It was the hardest run I'd ever done," Hosey says. "After I was wheezing, my lungs hurt and I actually crossed the finish line and cried. It felt like such a huge accomplishment since my body was working against me. All of the frustrations dealing with doctors who kept prescribing the wrong medications just came out. I was proud and relieved to have accomplished my goal but all the emotions I've been holding in came out too."
With the diagnosis behind her, a lot of questions are still lingering for Hosey. How will this disease affect her movement long term? For now, one thing's for sure: more running. "I'll probably move down to 5Ks, but I'll keep moving as much as I can," she says. "It's so easy to take for granted what you can do until you lose it, then you have a completely new appreciation for it."
Hosey hopes that by sharing her story, she can raise awareness about MG and encourage people to stay active and keep on moving because "you never know what could happen."