Jennifer Middlebrook will compete in Ironman race despite dystonia.
- Sept. 22, 2017
-- Jennifer Middlebrook of Kissimmee, Florida will arrive at the Ironman 70.3 Augusta starting line against incredible odds. Middlebrook is affected by dystonia, a little-known but potentially devastating neurological disorder. As a child, Middlebrook lost the ability to walk. Dystonia caused powerful, painful muscle spasms in her lower limbs, causing her to lose control of her legs and feet. After numerous misdiagnoses, Middlebrook was correctly diagnosed with dystonia by chance while admitted in the hospital for an aggressive orthopedic surgery that would have required severing the bones in her legs. Ultimately, a low dose of an oral medication commonly used to treat Parkinson's disease proved to be the treatment needed to make the symptoms all but disappear.
"On a normal day, I take one pill and can go 24 hours with no symptoms. If I go past the 24 hour mark—which I try to never do—then I get horrible clawing and Charlie horses in my legs and feet. So bad that I am in tears until the meds kick in," Middlebrook explains. "But, it is definitely my miracle drug, and I will always appreciate to the depths of my heart that doctor who took the time to see me in the hospital that day!
Dystonia is a chronic, disabling, neurological disorder marked by extreme muscle contractions that cause involuntary movements and abnormal postures of the body and limbs. There are numerous manifestations of dystonia that impact people of all ages and backgrounds. Common signs include twisting or abnormal movements of the head and neck, excessive blinking, a breathy or choking voice, hand cramps, or a twisted foot. Dystonia is frequently misdiagnosed due to a lack of awareness even among medical professionals.
The Dystonia Medical Research Foundation (http://www.dystonia-foundation.org
) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization available to assist individuals and families impacted by dystonia. The mission is to advance research for improved dystonia treatments and ultimately a cure, promote public awareness, and provide support resources for patients and families.
Ironman 70.3 Augusta is one of a series of long distance triathlon races organized by the World Triathlon Corporation, consisting of a 1.2-mile swim, a 56-mile bike ride, and a 13.1-mile run. The race will begin on Sunday, September 24 at 7:30 AM at Augusta Riverwalk Marina (1 5th Street Augusta, GA), and finish at Augusta Common on Broad St between 8th St and 9th St. Complete details are available at http://www.ironman.com/