INSPIRE ME: KRISSY!!

NFJF6Krissy is an incredible, strong, and beautiful woman from the inside out. She glows with passion and determination that inspires many people… She has overcome the disabilities associated with two strokes and is now running.  I was granted the opportunity to ask some questions and get to know her a little bit more.

The point of life is to have fun and learn lessons… to inspire and be inspired… so here goes
Q: Two major strokes within approximately 9 years of one another (14 and 23), what impact did that have upon you mentally and physically.

After a near death experience, having a stroke and brain surgery at the ripe age of 14, my life had literally forever changed. The entire right side of my body was now numb because of the stroke… I couldn’t walk for 2 months, I had almost no use of my right hand, I had to relearn numbers and counting, my ABC’s and how to write (as a lefty), how to talk, how to go to the bathroom… even the simplest task like tying my shoes took 20 minutes or more and sometimes ended with me just giving up. The majority of the right side of my body was permanently numbed… I could still feel pressure but I lived with the constant feeling of “pins & needles” all along my right side. Some things took many months to relearn, some things took years, and some things would take longer or never really get back to “normal.” I would always have the numbness in my right side, but I eventually regained use of my right hand. I was eventually able to mostly think and talk and write like most people, but I definitely had a lot of mental and verbal issues- I still sometimes mistakenly say “chicken” instead of “kitchen” or mix up other words or numbers… it takes a lot of effort and concentration to think and say simple things sometimes.  I have trouble remembering things and multitasking- I basically have lots of different issues that I’ll probably struggle with forever, some obvious and some not. I had lost so much, struggled with so many things, and couldn’t accept that I would no longer be the same as I was.

I was 23 years old, and 38 weeks (8-1/2 months) pregnant… then I had another stroke. This time I lost more feeling and most use of the right side of my body. Amazingly and luckily the bleed in my head stopped on its own, if it didn’t stop there was nothing the doctors could have done to save me- this bleed was too deep in my brain and near the base of my neck. I would have slipped into a permanent coma or just bled until my body shut down. After I miraculously stabilized, my daughter was removed by C-Section, a healthy little angel! Now with life challenging me again with more negatives, I had the new challenge of being a first-time mother on top of more new stroke side-effects.  The numbness in my right side isn’t just “pins & needles” anymore, a lot of my right side is just plain numb. I have almost entirely lost the use of my right hand… after weeks of therapy and with a lot of concentration I’m just able to close my hand around something… I have very little control of my hand and just about no control over individual fingers.  I’m almost entirely left-handed and only left-handed, except for basically being able to squeeze things or hang things from my right hand.  Some of the mental and verbal issues I had from my first stroke stayed the same, and some have gotten worse.

Q: Tell me about how Miss Lily encouraged you to throw down the cane and stop allowing the disability to define you?NFJF1
Last November Lily joined an after school program called Girls On The run. It’s a 10 week program where the coaches teach important life lessons and integrate the program with running. At the end of the program the Girls and their running buddies participate in a nationally known 5K (Girls On The Run 5K). This program is amazing on so many different levels.
Well, last season, Lily’s running buddy had to be a coach because I wasn’t in any way shape or form able to run with all my medical issues and pain, and my husband wasn’t sure if he’d be able to get off of work. All of the other girls got to run with their moms, but I couldn’t do that for Lily.
Deep down it was really hurtful to think I couldn’t do this one thing that meant so much to my daughter.
Then it started… on November 29th, 2012 at 9:37am I threw down my cane, stepped out of the front door and starting walking and very slowly jogging.  I had no idea where I was going or what I was doing, but there was NO way I’d miss my daughters next season.

Q: So that first 5K you ran with your daughter… what thoughts were running through your mind? How would you describe that occasion?
It went by so fast that there wasn’t time to think. It was the biggest runners high ever. It left me speechless.

NFJF5Q: You have a half marathon coming up Nov 10, tell me about that!
Here are my most recent feelings regarding the half marathon: I’m having a really hard time today accepting my strength that I’ve possessed over the last year. From a 2 time stroke survivor using a cane and pain meds to becoming a runner in a years time. My first half marathon is a little over 3 weeks away and every time I think about it, it brings me to tears. I never expected to find myself and so much joy. When you are constantly fighting the demons in your head that have been telling you your whole life that you’re not worth it and then to realize that you’ve had it in you all long is something that’s hard to fathom. I deserve this race, this day for celebrating my life and even if no one will ever fully understand what it means to me, I will still be forever grateful to myself for allowing me to free myself of the negative thoughts. The finish line is just the beginning of my new life…

Q:How is the training going?
The training has been wonderful. 3 times a week. Twice with the run club and longer runs on weekends with friends.

Q: I understand why they are near and dear to you but tell us about Challenged Athlete Foundation? What can we do to help?NFJF4
Overcoming a disability is very difficult, so it’s important to have as much support as you can get.  The Challenged Athletes Foundation (CAF) is an amazing organization that has been helping challenged athletes with financial support toward equipment, training, competition, and travel expenses for more than 15 years now!  Having had two strokes myself, I love what they stand for, so I’ve decided to dedicate my first half-marathon (this November!) toward the CAF as a sponsor athlete.  To help other challenged athletes work toward their goals, you can donate through my CAF page at or sign up for my virtual marathon. All the information can be found at the top of my blog at notfastjustfabulous.com

Q: Anything you would like to provide in regards to advice for an individual battling with depression?
Eventually I realized that no one cares if I feel bad for myself.  In the end I am the only one affected.
Why couldn’t I have what others have? Happiness, a smile and the ability to feel “normal”?
Because I was holding myself back.  Once I stopped listening to the voice in my head that for so long was telling me I was never going to amount to anything, my life changed.

NFJF3Q: Describe your life in 5 words.
Rich (In life) Happy Inspirational blessed loved

Q: Most memorable moment?
My most Memorable moment was crossing the finish line of our first 5K

Q: Favorite food, movie, dessert, and brand of running shoe?
My  Favorite food is potato chips! Haha My favorite movie is Forest Gump (Is it a coincidence that I run?) dessert is probably anything ice cream and shoes is Nike

Q: What about a few quirky habits or traits that you have?
I am the only person you will ever meet that talks the entire time that I am running

Q:What additional thoughts and things would you like to share?
Over the last few months I have had some amazing opportunities. I have had 2 News Interviews, 2 News Paper Articles written about my story and the chance to help with next year’s Cannonball Run. I was also contacted by Green Clock Films to be featured on an episode of Madison’s Noteworthy and be featured on a Pod Cast! This Friday I will be giving my first motivational speech!

To find links to these amazing things click HERE!NFJF2

I am living proof that “What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals.” -Henry David Thoreau

It turns out I was a runner all along.
It turns out I’m strong than I thought. I had it in me the whole time.
It turns out that ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE!

The biggest lesson to be learned here is that disabilities do not define an individual. Always, always, ALWAYS remember that.
Has anyone else out there overcome a disability?

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