By Maleah Moskoff
I was diagnosed with Acute Disseminated Encephalomyelitis (ADEM) in April of 2017. Paralyzed from the chest down, I spent seven weeks in the hospital/rehabilitation before returning home in a wheelchair. Flash forward a year, I was walking 5 steps with a walker. Two years post-diagnosis, I was walking using a cane and walking sticks as aids when needed. I set my annual goals, one being to sign up for and complete a 5K in 2019. When I saw a Wonder Woman 5K advertised, I knew it was the one for me. I trained for months with my physical therapist and family, walking distances close to 3 miles with a walker or sticks.
Below is my journal entry that I shared with family and friends afterwards.
I woke up at 5:45am in a hotel in order to be dropped at the shuttles that would take us to Six Flags where the start was. I waited for over an hour before the 5K participants could start. Not feeling well, I was worried to say the least about my performance. I had more neuropathy and pins and needles than usual that early in the day. The female power/strength/energy was incredible. It was very moving and hopeful. The guys joined me at the start and led me through the course. The weather behaved and that was a blessing. I was on pace, 28 minutes first mile, and then fatigue set in. Close to the 2 mile marker, a volunteer on a bike walked next to me. We struck up a conversation and she became my cheerleader. Soon, another bike-riding volunteer joined the pack. He was supportive and encouraging. A third rode in to the now super pack. I wanted to quit. I was spent. My legs were collapsing and my shoulders sore from using walking sticks. They all said, “You ARE finishing!” while pointing out markers to break up what seemed like a daunting amount of blocks to go. We had a police escort behind us and sidewalk spectators cheering me on. It was magical. When I found out that this 5K was closer to 3.7 miles than 3.1, I was like, “OMG – Just over the bridge (I-94) and you’re there!”. Ok, I AM finishing this. I see the finish line and a man asks my name then conveys it to the announcer who says enthusiastically, “Let’s welcome our last 5Ker, Maleah, as she finishes!” I was in tears. Not because I was the last in my group, but because I did it! I finished. Someone got me a chair and a second one for my legs. I was adorned with a medal, banana and water. My private volunteers hugged me individually and we took a group picture. Medical personnel asked if I needed anything. I had just a few minutes to chill out before joining the party. I did NOT poop or pee as I feared I would. It was pretty much over and we made our way to the car. Time to get home, reflect and shower!
June 9th is Transverse Myelitis Day! Wow, what cool timing. I set a goal at the beginning of the year to sign up for and complete a 5K. One year ago, I had a goal to travel to Colorado, and I did that. What will next year’s physical goal be? Scotland! Teaching my son by example that perseverance and effort exceed competition. Ultimately, showing my son that finishing last is irrelevant when the only person you were competing with is yourself. Finishing is more important than placing or ranking higher.
Set a goal, aim, fire!