About Me

copy3My name is Danielle Furey and I am a wife, mother of four, attorney, writer, runner, triathlete, traveler and adventure seeker. Oh, and I have Multiple Sclerosis. MS is just one of the many things that makes me unique. MS does not define me, it is only one piece of the very large puzzle that is me.

I have been a runner my whole life. Running is one of my absolute favorite things to do. It is how I relieve stress, where I think through problems and come up with creative ideas. I can’t think of anything better than going out for a run when the sun is just coming up and everyone that I know is still asleep. I ran track in high school and briefly in college (until I discovered rugby). I ran my first marathon in 1995 and signed up for another one a few hours after I crossed the finish line. I ran through pregnancies and I ran with kids in a jogging stroller. I raced short and long distances on a regular basis. I felt great until one morning in 2002 when I woke up to find that I could not feel anything in my right leg below the knee.

My leg felt like it had been amputated below the knee and I had to keep looking at it to remind myself that it was actually still there. At the time, I was living in the Czech Republic, so when the neurologist told me that I could have MS I thought that that there had been some mistake in the English translation. I flew back to the US for another MRI which unfortunately confirmed the findings of the Czech neurologist. My brain showed three white matter lesions. MS was a possibility and could not be ruled out. However, MS could not be diagnosed definitively without a second event or relapse as it is referred to. I was 33 years old.

I eventually did regain feeling in my right leg, however over the two years following my Possible MS diagnosis I lived in fear of a relapse. I read books about MS, I scoured the internet for information and I waited for the relapse that never came. When I moved with my family back to the US in 2004, I donated all those MS books to the library. I filed away the diagnosis in the back of my brain and convinced myself that there was no way I had this disease.

For the ten years following the diagnosis my health was perfect.

Ironman 70.3 World Championship 2009 in St. Petersburg, FL

Ironman 70.3 World Championship 2009 in St. Petersburg, FL

I continued to run almost every day and added biking and swimming to my repertoire. I started competing in triathlons of all distances; sprint, olympic, half-iron and iron distance races. I trained every day, at least once a day and raced regularly. In November of 2010, I partially tore my right Achilles tendon during the marathon portion of an iron distance triathlon and this set off a domino effect that eventually led me to relapse.

In February of 2011 I had surgery to repair my Achilles and was put in a hard cast for eight weeks, then a boot for several weeks after that. This entire recovery period was excruciating not because my foot even really hurt, but because for the first time in my life I couldn’t run. I turned mean and nasty. I snapped at and argued with everyone. I dreamed of running again, but when I was finally free of the cast and boot I could barely walk on my right foot. I went through physical therapy to learn to walk correctly and then run. Months after the surgery when I was finally able to run again, my Achilles was always sore and swollen because I would inevitably overdo it by running too far or too fast. By the end of the year I had literally become a crazy person. I was lashing out at everyone around me. I had no way to manage stress without running so I turned it all inward and I made myself physically ill.

By the beginning of 2012, I was so weak and exhausted that I could barely drag myself out of bed in the morning. At first I thought that I had the flu but I couldn’t seem to kick the constant fatigue. Then I developed an intense squeezing pain under my rib cage that spread up through my chest and throat leaving me breathless and panicked. The pain was constant and relentless for four months. I tried to hide how much pain I was in. I went to work every day and I took care of my kids. But when I got into bed at night I would cry myself to sleep from the pain. I went from doctor to doctor in every medical specialty to find out what was wrong with me. I had test after test and no one could tell me definitively what was wrong. I will admit that MS did cross my mind, but I was determined to find any answer other than MS. When I suddenly began to lose all feeling in my left side, I knew I couldn’t avoid the possibility of MS anymore and made an appointment to see a neurologist specializing in MS.

In May 2012 I was given a definitive diagnosis of Relapsing- Remitting Multiple Sclerosis. MRIs showed twelve white matter lesions on my brain and one on my spine. Part of me was relieved to finally know what was happening to my body but another part of me was terrified that this disease would tear me apart mentally and physically. I can’t deny that I threw myself a huge pity party at first and prepared for a life of potential handicap. But as the pain subsided and most of the numbness disappeared I renewed my love affair with running. As I kicked up the mileage week by week I realized that MS was not holding me back as I had previously thought but was in fact doing the opposite. MS was fueling my runs. Every step that I took became a blessing that I was thankful for. With this realization, I replaced self-pity with self- confidence and determination.

I believe that we are endowed with certain burdens and certain gifts and that ultimately we must find a way to use our gifts to overcome our burdens. One of the burdens that I must bear is MS but my love of running is the gift that I will use to triumph over MS. And so I keep running…

 

My family at the Annual Awards Dinner for the South Florida chapter of the National MS Society where I received an award for my fundraiser.

My family at the Annual Awards Dinner for the South Florida chapter of the National MS Society where I received an award for my fundraiser.

I originally started this blog in August 2012 to document my training for the Marathon des Sables (MdS), a 156 mile, six day, self sufficiency stage race across the Sahara Desert, while raising money for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.   In April 2013 I completed the grueling MdS (check out my RACE DIARY) and to date I have raised over $16,000 for the National MS Society, thanks to so many amazing individuals who have helped me surpass my goal.

When I crossed the finish line of the MdS and later watched Morocco disappear out of view as my plane jetted toward Paris, I thought there was no way I would ever go back. Bruised, beat up, swollen, hurt and exhausted, I had left behind every bit of my gear in the Sahara, along with all of the skin off my feet and 12 inches of my hair. But there is something magical about the beauty and freedom of the Sahara and within weeks of returning to the US, I was feeling the allure of the MdS pulling me back.  Lucky for me, a last minute spot had opened up within the US/Canada contingent and I will be returning to the MdS this coming April 2014.  So to all of my tent mates and friends from the MdS 2013 who laughed and protested when I swore I would never return, I give you all permission to say “I told you so.”

Over the next few months I will track my training for the MdS and my experimentation with a ketogenic diet to improve both neurological health and athletic performance.  If you are at all interested you can follow my progress…

 

47 Responses to About Me

  1. Terri Swanson says:

    Danielle
    you mental and physical toughness is something I have admired since I have know you. reading this blog I realize how introspective and self examining you are. I can appreciate your love of running and know that you will do everything in your power to outrun MS. not or yourself but for those that need you. you family, friends and others that have MS.

    I look forward to following your journey

  2. Ligia Felsen says:

    Dani, I must admit that I was shocked to learn of your diagnosis because it proves once again that (sadly) these diseases do not discriminate. However, I was not shocked to read your blog and learn about your valiant journey after diagnosis and the goal you have set for yourself. I know that you love conquering challenges. Your drive, tenacity, courage, determination and passion are (and have always been) truly admirable and commendable to me. And, are the very qualities that will carry you through.

    Although far away in CO, I will be cheering for you as you run every single mile in preparation for your event and beyond. I have no doubt that you will cross that finish line and beat the crap out of MS!!

    “It had long since come to my attention that people of accomplishment rarely sat back and let things happen to them. They went out and happened to things.” ― Leonardo da Vinci

    • Dani says:

      Thanks so much Li! I really appreciate your support and the admiration is mutual! I just saw your donation and can’t thank you enough. I wish I could be running trails in CO with right now instead of loops around Vista!

  3. Melissa Merrick says:

    Oh my dear birthday buddy, Danielle. You have always, and continue to amaze me. I fear that I would still be in the pity party phase of such a diagnosis. Not sure if you know, but I, too, woke up without feeling on the left side of my body a few years back and am still in the waiting-pretending and hoping it won’t really happen again phase. I better start thinking of something I will do to outX MS since I leave running, biking, all things amazing and athletic to you! =) We love and miss you and will be cheering for you from Atlanta. You rock!!!xox

  4. Robin Steinberg says:

    You are amazing….I knew that the first day we became friends and exchanged social security numbers, but now incredibly, spectacularly and beautifully amazing is more like it!!!

    • Dani says:

      Thanks Robin for being there through all of my dark days before diagnosis! You are the best- especially because you are the only person I know who actually likes running hills at Vista.

  5. David Mizrahi says:

    Danielle, I’m just shocked reading now about your diagnosis.(Tx to FB)
    I always admired your tougheness and determination, and now will follow and be cheering for you in your most interesting race “so far “( you always find a new challenge).
    I really believe that food can cure you and that the Vegaquarianism will be the best for you and at the same time will be good for your family too.

  6. Nicole says:

    Dani,

    A true inspiration! I admire your honesty and integrity through this all. I understand “pain” and lethargy from my neck injuries…. PERSEVERE!!! and I can’t believe you’re doing that race! OMG! My hero!

  7. Evelien Esbach Jansen says:

    Hi Daniella,

    I’m shocked to hear about your diagnose. And I’m very interested in your journey, I will follow your blog.
    Returning back to the netherlands I noticed the different quality’s in food, we need to put good food in our body’s. I recently turned vegan and will read up on the Vegaquarianism (difficult name).

    Bless you and your family
    Evelien

    • Dani says:

      Thank you so much for your well wishes Evelien. I will never forget your darling Iris. She was always so sweet, I am sure she is a lovely young lady now.
      I would love to hear any ideas for vegan recipes that you have. I usually cook 3 to 4 true vegan meals each week and to the rest of the meals I add fish.
      Take care and send my best to your whole family.

  8. Linda O'Keefe says:

    I am a friend of your mom’s from Wethersfield and I have heard about you, your sister and your families for years and although we have never met I feel as if I know you. I was shocked to get the email from her telling me about your diagnosis and then shocked even more, saddened and ultimately impressed while reading your blog. You are truly an amazing and accomplished person who has a positive and unique way of looking at things. I love your belief about each of us having gifts and burdens. I am certain that belief along with your determination, courage and confidence will carry you along on this amazing journey – with MS and the Marathon des Sables. I look forward to following your blog and some day meeting you and your beautiful family. You go girl!!!

    • Dani says:

      Thank you so much Linda! You kind words mean so much and are a real inspiration to me. I was just telling someone that I was going to print out all of these amazing messages that I have received and take them to the Sahara in my backpack for a source of strength. I look forward to meeting you one day soon so I can thank you in person not only for these words but for you most generous donation. Again, thank you from the bottom of my heart!

  9. Paul Holland says:

    Danielle,
    I just learned of this today. I am so sorry. My thoughts and prayers are with you and Rich. Love, Paul.

  10. Priscilla fountainbleau says:

    You are truly my hero!

  11. Lori says:

    Danielle,
    You are certainly so admirable on so many levels and for so many things….You are Such an Inspiration ! As always, it was great spending time with you today, always so fun…we could go on for hours!!! Know that we are behind you 100% in everything you do and that we are always here for you – You are an Amazing Friend ;o)
    Love, Lori
    Sid, Alyssa & Rachel too

  12. Kathie Fording says:

    Danielle
    Had no idea this was going on. Sounds like you’re not just facing it head-on, but jumping over it. The Sahara desert race sounds daunting for a “healthy” person but will be no match for you, I’m sure. Good luck with the training, the mommying, the wife-ing, the Living.

    Hope to see you and Rich soon…
    Kathie

    • Dani says:

      Thank you Kathie! We are coming up to CT this fall…I will have Rich give Tim details and maybe we can get together. Much love to all the Fordings!!

  13. Evan Seideman says:

    Danielle:

    Like many who are posting, I am so sorry to have not known that this was going on for you, Rich and your families, but also inspired (and not at all surprised) by your tremendous attitude. Jennifer, Justin, Rachel and I (as well as your former C&L colleagues Messrs. Clarke, Freed and Flaherty) will be pulling for you as you train for the Sahara desert race (I am tired just thinking about it . . .) and as you live your life. We hope that we will get to see you when you come to CT this fall.

    Evan

    • Dani says:

      Thank you Evan! Please send my love to all the Seidemans. We will definitely plan a Georgetown crew get together when we are in CT. Please also send my best to Marty, Tom, John and all the other former C&L crew that you are still practicing with. xo

  14. inna weintraub says:

    Hi Danielle, unbelievable! That is what you are. I am a friend of Erin’s and met you at one of her Muses events. I had the best time talking to you! I was so impressed with your outlook on life just for handling four kids let alone all this other stuff you were dealing with for so long. I wish you the best of luck at this Sahara race!! You are so much fun to be around and hopefully I will see you again soon.

    Inna

    • Dani says:

      Hi Inna! Of course I remember you- we had such a great chat that night! I remember talking about St. Petersburg and telling you how badly I wanted to go there. Well I finally got to visit Moscow and St. Petersburg at the end of May this year!! It was only for 5 days- way too short- we were there for a wedding outside Moscow and had an amazing time. Thanks so much for your sweet words- I look forward to seeing you again soon! I just sent you a friend request on Facebook :)

  15. Kristin Selvala says:

    Danielle,
    Thank you for sharing your story in such an honest way. Your motivation and determination are truly inspiring. I read somewhere that the human brain can not experience fear and gratitude simultaneously; the way to overcome fear is to focus on something for which you are grateful . You have confirmed this finding with your own experience!! Good luck with your training and your Amazing Race…we will be cheering for you in New Canaan! -Kristin

    • Dani says:

      Thank you so much for your donation and encouragement Kristin! I absolutely love your insight about the human brain- I am definitely going to look into that! In fact, it fits very well into an idea that I have for a future blog :) I hope that you, Rick and the kids are all doing well and have a wonderful thanksgiving!! xo, Danielle

  16. Rebecca Hogg says:

    Wow! Mixed thoughts: I love that I didn’t even know you had it because you were you-not defined by MS but I’m also sad because I didn’t know so I couldn’t ask how you are doing (even though you address this in another post).

    Thank you for sharing your story and determination and being transparent about what you went through emotionally (anger acted outwardly and inwardly). I have a friend who was diagnosed with MS following a car accident when she was late 20’s and goes in stages with how she feels physically and emotionally.

    • Dani says:

      Thanks Rebecca- I didn’t say anything when you were here because then the short time that we had to visit with you would have been consumed by talking about MS. It was much more fun hearing about your travels in Europe. :) Happy Thanksgiving to you and Jeremy!

  17. Rob Klemyk says:

    Dani,

    I thought of you today and wanted to say hello. Please know that you, Rich and the kids are in our daily prayers.
    Faith and love may move mountains, but an unyielding will may change the world.

    Love Always,
    Rob

  18. Hi Danielle,

    Wow. You are an inspiration to me. My name is Shari and I too am healing my MS naturally without drugs. I started a raw foods company in my efforts to heal my body. I would love to send you my products:

    Organic, raw, vegan sprouted granola, nut bars, truffles and crackers.

    Do you have an address? My parents live in N Miami or I can send it overnight. Wishing you an amazing run!!

    Be well,

    Shari

    • Dani says:

      Hi Shari! Just finally seeing getting to a computer to read my blog comments so I am sorry that it took me so long to respond! I absolutely love your food and I am thrilled that you contacted me! I have bought some of your snacks from Whole Foods!!! I am 3908 Nighthawk Drive, Weston, FL 33331. Thank you and I look forward to hearing from you!! Danielle :)

  19. Michelle Hollander says:

    Danielle you are beyond amazing…definition of mental toughness…pinhead would Be proud….xoxoxoxox

  20. Beth says:

    I am also a runner who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis a little over two years ago. I’ve done two marathons since then, and after a friend completed an ultramarathon yesterday, I got curious about whether anyone with multiple sclerosis had ever done an ultramarathon. That search led me here. Thank you for the inspiration. I am going for a run now. :)

    • Dani says:

      Awesome Beth!!! So glad I could lend some inspiration!!!! You should check out MilesandTrials.com too- written by another fellow MS runner! Feel good and keep running. I would love to hear about your races- my email is danifurey@hotmail.com if you want to chat. I’m also on Facebook :)

  21. Flavia says:

    Hello
    REALLY congratulate you,
    Also I tell you That I have MS AGO I was diagnosed less than 2 months.
    I feel very identified, Done That and sport all my life I have 36 Jahr des bebe 3 years and so far Also Media and the.
    WHEN I would like to tell me you had no time as you train.
    I’m a Physical trainer, spinning instructor Much But Here in Uruguay are not with the disease and sport.
    My doctor after the treatment with corticosteroids let me return to my normal life.
    Giving Classes Returning spinning and running, still do not take medication.
    From The Distance a hug and congratulate you re my inspiration That Can Be FOLLOW.
    I sent my mail flaviadelossantos@hotmail.com

  22. Pingback: My Homepage

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>