American Ninja Warrior
American Ninja Warrior holds a special place in my heart. To me, it’s not just an obstacle course show—the dream to one day compete on it helped me to overcome some daunting obstacles in my life. Over the course of a year, I had had a severe decline in my health that resulted in migraines, arthritis, extreme fatigue and flu-like symptoms, blurred vision, extreme light sensitivity, motion sickness, and seizure-like tremors. After spending that year going to every doctor and specialist I could find, I ended up being misdiagnosed several times, all the meanwhile becoming sicker and sicker.
Finally, a new doctor decided to run blood work to test for the bacteria that causes Lyme Disease. It tested positive and based on the number of antibodies present it was determined it likely had been contracted from a tick bite the previous year and had been the culprit of my health decline. After a medical leave from college to be bedridden on oral antibiotics, I experienced a major alleviation of symptoms. Problems began to creep back and a year later I ended up undergoing several months of intravenous antibiotics.
The treatment took a major toll on my system and seemed to be working for the first month. Later as the dose increased, a toxic reaction led to some debilitating side effects including antibiotic-induced Parkinsonism (Parkinson’s Syndrome) and antibiotic-induced hepatitis that put me in the emergency room. There was no guarantee that the new symptoms from the toxic reaction would go away. I had constant tremors and my knees buckled and I began to shake violently whenever I stood upright. It was one of the scariest and most trying times of my life.
Thankfully, the Parkinson’s Syndrome mostly went away after around a month, as I went under the care of a different doctor and my health slowly improved. Over the following years, I continued to struggle privately but did my best as the symptoms were not nearly as severe. I felt like I’d reached a plateau of what traditional medicine could provide. I then tried various holistic doctors and natural supplements that provided mild improvement. Deep down, I knew that to reach the next level of improved health it was going to be reached through nutrition and exercise.
For years with Lyme Disease, I struggled with trying to stay on target with my health goals of regular exercise and a disciplined healthy diet. With chronic fatigue being one of my biggest lingering symptoms, it was so difficult to find the energy to consistently exercise. I needed a big goal to work for. Something to inspire and aspire to. Then I saw American Ninja Warrior on television. It all clicked and I just knew that was the goal I could work toward and stick to. I made a public proclamation that I was going to be on the show not knowing how difficult it is to actually get on it.
I found out that I had 6 months before applications were due and made a ninja course in my yard and started training and brainstorming for my application video. It worked, despite the 40,000+ applications for around 600 competitors! I made it on the show and the training truly did bring my health to a whole new level where I could do things that I thought I may never be able to again! I can remember a time when my doctor said I would be eligible for going on disability and not working. Now here I was never having given up and now competing in a show with Olympians and top athletes in all sorts of disciplines! It may be just a reality show, but for me, it changed the reality of my life and helped my health reach that new level I’d so long been striving for. And for that, I am forever grateful.
First Ninja Comp:
Here’s my first Ninja Warrior competition experience in Miami. The top 30 out of around 130 competitors advanced to the City Finals. I went far enough fast enough to make it in the top 30 until about 30 minutes left in the competition when a few ninjas went farther faster and I was eliminated. I still felt great about my rookie performance and as they don’t put too many performances online I’m really grateful that they included mine! Enjoy.
Here’s an extended version of my audition video that got me picked up to compete in Season 6 of American Ninja Warrior.
This audition video needs more cowbell:
I always thought it would be fun to try to play in a one-man band. So I made a music video and did just that for this American Ninja Warrior Audition Vid:
Here’s my first Ninja Warrior Audition Video that first got me selected to compete:
A story WYFF NBC News 4 did on my ninja journey:
My Mission on Lyme Disease Awareness:
My wish from my exposure on American Ninja Warrior is to create more awareness about Lyme Disease. I wish I would have known more about Lyme Disease from the start. I would have requested to be tested for it early on and I could have started treatment right away and avoided years of struggle. But the struggle did teach me a lot and I’ve learned to accept it with gratitude. The experience has helped me relate to others going through difficult times with a level of empathy that I did not have available before and to provide encouragement to people I don’t believe I previously would have connected with on nearly as deep a level.
My hope is that I can take my experience to create awareness of this disease and encourage others along the way that may be suffering from it and need tips or just an understanding ear. And to provide awareness to those that might not know they have contracted it so they can request to be tested by their doctor and start treatment before symptoms worsen and it becomes more difficult to beat. It’s a mysterious disease in that it has such varied symptoms that it is frequently misdiagnosed. Many of its victims do not get the bull’s eye rash as an early infection indicator and the disease may go undiagnosed for months or years.
It’s a lonely disease. You might not have visible symptoms like an arm in a sling or a head of newly bald hair—something that people can immediately notice and show empathy towards. Don’t expect get-well cards or flowers. Expect, “You look great. Sorry, you’re feeling so bad.” But know there are thousands and thousands of people out there that are quietly suffering and not enough research being done to advance treatment and diagnosis. I sure hope this changes.
If you have any questions about Lyme Disease, or just need an encouraging voice as you struggle with Lyme, feel free to reach out to me. No one should have to go through this alone and that’s how it often feels. I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and 864-201-8506. Seriously—feel free to call me.
I’m finally in a place where my symptoms are much less severe, but I’m always striving to get back to 100%. If you have any suggestions and tips for things that have given you great results at getting your health back on track, I would love to hear from you as well. If you are with an organization that promotes Lyme Disease Awareness and has any opportunities where I could be of service please feel free to contact me. If you’re looking for more resources to learn more about Lyme recovery one of my favorite recent resources is http://lymelesslivemore.com.