Aurora Colello

 

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In November of 2008, I began to experience a pain in my right eye. It woke me up at night and became more and more intense to the point that I could not roll my eye because the pain was so excruciating.

 

By the time I went to see the doctor, I was losing my vision. It was as if someone had taken an eraser and made a squiggly line in the center of my right eye. Ultimately, I completely lost vision in my right eye. I will never forget the moment it happened. I was making snacks for my kids when I realized something had changed with my vision. I moved my hand quickly over my right eye, and all I could see was black. It was terrifying. I was totally blind in my right eye.

 

I was rushed to the doctor for an MRI and met with a neurologist the next day. He said that I had an extreme case of optic neuritis, an inflammation of the optic nerve. He told me that I would probably never get my vision back. Then he put my MRI on a large computer screen and pointed out 10 lesions all over my brain. The one by my optic nerve was very noticeable. He said that the optic neuritis in conjunction with the lesions was multiple sclerosis, an incurable and progressive disease. I was devastated.

 

Dealing With An MS Diagnosis

 

I was only 35 and had four kids ages 1, 3, 5, and 7. ‘My life is over,’ I thought. I was angry, scared to death, and depressed. For two weeks, I literally stayed home and cried.  My amazing husband sat me down and said that he understood that this was hard for me and that I was going to mourn my health but that I needed to fight this disease. He said I needed to pray and ask God for help. Part of me was super angry at God. Why me? How could God allow me to have MS, and why would he give me four kids if I was going to be in a wheelchair? The other part of me knew my husband was right. I had to fight this. I had to do something. I had to ask God to show me a way. At that point I became proactive about my diagnosis, and God began to show me a different way.

 

Researching A Multiple Sclerosis Diagnosis

 

I researched MS. I watched videos, read blogs and went to every MS website I could find, but everything I found was negative and depressing. There was no hope. I immediately sent out an email to all of my acquaintances, told them in detail what had happened to me and asked them to put me in touch with people who had MS. I wanted to find out more about this disease. When I had a list of over 20  people from all over the world, I called each one and began conducting interviews.

I asked them when they were diagnosed, what their symptoms were, what they were doing, how it was working for them. Most people were on medication, but one person took medication and went to a natural, holistic center called the Center of Advanced Medicine in Encinitas, Calif. I had been blind for a month at this time and was desperate. My doctors were really pressuring me to begin taking the medication. I decided to give this center a chance before I started on drugs.

 

Treating MS With Alternative Medicine

 

I went to the center, blind and scared. The doctor told me to lie down on a table, and he massaged my neck. I immediately popped up and said that I did not need a massage! I was sick; I was blind, and I had MS. I need help and information, not a massage! He explained to me that the optic nerve runs through the neck and that massaging it would stimulate the nerve and cause my eyesight return. I thought he was crazy.

 

I was given a large bag of supplements and sent home, thinking that I had been conned by these strange, holistic people. I went ahead and followed the advice they gave me, taking supplements and changing my diet. Two days after that massage, I began to see some spots of light. A few days later, I saw colors. Two weeks later, my vision was back, and it was back better than before. I was due for a check up on my contact lenses so when I regained my vision I went in, and the doctor said that she needed to decrease the prescription in my right eye because my vision had actually gone up in that same eye.  I had just been completely blind in that eye just a few weeks before and now my vision had gone up in that same eye? That convinced me to pursue the alternative health approach. If the doctors were wrong about my eyesight, what else could they be wrong about?

 

MS is an autoimmune disorder that occurs when the immune system mistakenly attacks your central nervous system and optic nerve. Luckily, there is a lot that can be done to improve your immune system naturally. I had an extensive blood panel done to find out what vitamins I was lacking and was shocked to discover that I was deficient in almost everything! I also altered my diet to avoid foods that could cause inflammation, something that can trigger a negative immune response. I changed my lifestyle, diet, and added a fitness regimen. Instead of getting sicker and weaker, as my doctors had said I would, I became healthier and stronger! After a year for these types of changes, an MRI showed that all ten of my lesions were gone.

 

Researching A Multiple Sclerosis Diagnosis

 

I researched MS. I watched videos, read blogs and went to every MS website I could find, but everything I found was negative and depressing. There was no hope. I immediately sent out an email to all of my acquaintances, told them in detail what had happened to me and asked them to put me in touch with people who had MS. I wanted to find out more about this disease. When I had a list of over 20  people from all over the world, I called each one and began conducting interviews.

I asked them when they were diagnosed, what their symptoms were, what they were doing, how it was working for them. Most people were on medication, but one person took medication and went to a natural, holistic center called the Center of Advanced Medicine in Encinitas, Calif. I had been blind for a month at this time and was desperate. My doctors were really pressuring me to begin taking the medication. I decided to give this center a chance before I started on drugs.

 

 

The Importance of Exercise

 

I am not your typical MS patient, but that is only because, through diet, lifestyle and  fitness changes,  I work very hard not to be.  In 1991, at 19 years old, and fresh out of high school from the East Coast, I was a volunteer at Kona Ironman World Championships. I was in Kona at a training school to do volunteer work/missions work, with a Christian organization called, Youth With A Mission (YWAM). I had never seen a triathlon and had no idea what it was. I handed water to Mark Allen and signed in some of the top legends in our sport…having NO idea who they were! That day had a huge impact on my life. Seeing all of the athletes making the impossible, possible, challenged and inspired me. Watching the pros was unforgettable and cheering the last of the athtlese to the finish line, when they were about to pass out from exhaustion was life changing. I still get chills remember the finish line "tunnel" of people, cheering and the music, and the names being announced, "YOU ARE AN IRONMAN." It was an experience I never forgot and I said to myself, One day, I want to do something like that...one day.

 

 

When the doctors were telling me all of the debilitating symptoms that MS causes and that I could be in a wheelchair in the next 5 years, I remembered that day in Kona so long ago and how inspired I felt. I decided that I would register for my first triathlon while I could before my body started falling apart like my doctors were telling me. I signed up for my first  Sprint and had to train for 9 months to get ready since I did not have a gym membership, could not run a mile, and did not bike or swim. I had always thought that I was healthy because I was skinny but that is so false. I was not healthy. Over the next few months, instead of getting sicker and weaker, like my doctors said I would, I was getting stronger and healthier! Changing my lifestyle and adding fitness (in my case triathlon) into my life helped me to fight and stop the progression of this disease.

 

 

 

I have raced over 20  triathlons including my first Half Ironman at Dana Point in October 2012, in which I placed 5th in my age group.  These races have played a huge role in helping me get healthier and stronger, both physically and mentally. Many people with MS are afraid to work out, and I don’t blame them. We are told that physical activity can increase our body temperature, which can aggravate symptoms. I remember being afraid when I went on my first run.

 

Fitness is something that MS patients should try, whether it’s yoga, running, or triathlons. I believe that there is a lot that people can do to stop the progression of MS. Instead of looking at your diagnosis as MS, look at it as an imbalance in your body and approach it as such.

 

Don't give up, and don't give in. Every time I race, I think about my MS. I think about all of the people I have met over the years who cannot walk well, who are in pain, who are in wheelchairs. I race for the ones that can't. Anything is possible. I am proof of that.

 

 

"And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose."

~Romans 8:28~

 

Aurora and her family at her first Half Ironman at Dana Point, CA. 1.2 Mile Ocean Swim, 56 Mile Bike and a 13.1 mile run. Aurora placed 5th in her age group.

Aurora takes a picture of Mark Allen, racing in Kona in 1992, having no idea who he was, she hands him an orange wedge. Little did she know the importance these moments would play later in her life.

 

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