Multiple Sclerosis has been an issue in Kristinas life for a long time. Her mother was diagnosed with MS when she was 8 years old and has seen the struggle of her mother as she grew up. As she got older she was finally diagnosed with MS herself. When she first started feeling symptoms she didn’t think twice about it being MS. She was diagnosed but not broken. Now Kristina is still in great shape wiring out and eating right. Her exercise and diet keeps her symptoms down and very healthy. Keep it up Kristina, your an inspiration to all of us.
MS has been a part of Kristina Lunardi’s life for as long as she can remember. Her mother who hasRRMS was diagnosed 20 years ago when Kristina was just 8 years old. She has been on medication the entire time. She does quite well; she stays active, takes her meds, and keeps a positive attitude. Although things have progressed slightly for Kristina’s mother, over the years, she is still in great shape for someone that has had a disease since long before she was even officially diagnosed. Kristina’s mother’s example, I believe, is a driving force in what has helped Kristina take the road she has in her MS battle.
Is it MS or Just Stress?
“When I first started experiencing symptoms, MS was the first thing that came to mind. Not because I was being paranoid, but because the only other person that I’ve ever heard describing the odd things I was feeling was my mom,” says Kristina.
In May of 2012, 3 months before her wedding, both of her hands went numb, along with her torso. This was accompanied by an electric shock feeling that ran down her back all the way through her toes, which, as us MSers know, is L’hermitte’s syndrome. The doctors that examined Kristina during this time told her that she was stressed, and suffered from anxiety and possibly carpal tunnel syndrome. As in my own case, MS is often misdiagnosed or shrugged off as the symptoms of stress. When she asked her doctor to send her for an MRI, the doctor told Kristina that she was jumping to conclusions and to rest for a while and see if it got any better.
Kristina says, “Of course, as MS does, the weird feelings went away in a few months and I was back to ‘normal’. I went on with my everyday life which consisted of working 44 to 50 hours a week in the nuclear industry, mostly in the Quality Assurance and Finance departments, and working out at the gym five days per week, lifting weights and doing moderate cardio. In addition, I started working on my bachelor’s degree in nutrition. Needless to say, I’m a busy girl.”
After a Misdiagnosis, A MS Diagnosis
Kristina went more than a year without ever having a symptom again, until the end of October 2013 when all of the same symptoms she experienced last time came back, only this time they were worse. Her arms also went numb, she lost almost all of her strength and coordination and she experienced extreme nerve pain in her neck. This time her doctor finally agreed to send her for an MRI. But again, instead of looking for MS, he speculated it was probably a herniated disc in her neck. This is when the doctors’ misdiagnoses was revealed and they discovered a lesion on Kristina’s cervical spine. She was finally sent to a neurologist who confirmed MS and treated her with steroids which took some time to take effect and help her symptoms.
Back in the Saddle
Once Kristina was feeling better she decided to go back to the gym. She says, “I hadn’t been able to tie my shoes let alone work out during the time of my attack. That’s when I got the bug to compete in a bikini competition. I picked a date and started training. I’ve learned so much about myself during this experience so far. I’ve learned that I have more strength both physically and mentally than I ever thought possible. I’ve also learned thatthe people that support youand stay by your side are the most important things in the world. I’m lucky to have great friends, family and a husband who will do anything to ensure that I am happy and healthy.”
I remember that time in my life when, after the MS diagnosis, I made the same decision as Kristina to fight the disease in the gym and compete against the “healthy” athletes. What an invigorating feeling to take control of your life and not let MS control you. These are the times that the warriors of MS come out and defy odds, achieve extraordinary accomplishments and become encouragement to others.
Kristina’s passion for nutrition and helping others has also grown stronger. She started a websitewhere she writes a blog which shares helpful and honest information about nutrition and supplementation. She recommends and sells supplements which she believes in and that have been beneficial to her in her fight to beat MS and to be an athlete.
Kristina says, “I want people to have a place they can go to get information that they can trust. I also want to share my struggles and accomplishments and inspire people. I know now, if I can do it, anyone can do it!” It’s part of her mission to use her earnings from sales of her products to raise money for MS foundations.
Getting Bikini-Ready With MS
Kristina is currently nine weeks out from her first NPC Bikini Competition and although she says she has a lot more work to do, she can’t wait to get on that stage. She is not only representing herself, but she stands for every other person that’s fighting to overcome their struggles. This inspirational woman plans to continue to help others and hopefully do some work with MS organizations like the MS Fitness Challenge.
“I support the MS Fitness Challenge because to me, staying active, and constantly moving forward has helped me not only physically, but mentally as well. Being in the gym and getting stronger everyday helps me to have more power to fight this disease and the MS Fitness Challenge shows all of us that not only is it OK for us to stay active, but it is great for us!” says Kristina.
Kristina is now, “starting a clinical trial for a lower dose of a medication that is already on the market. I plan to participate in that along with a healthy diet and lifestyle to fight this disease every day.”
I am glad to add Kristina Lunardi to our MS Fitness Challenge warriors and I am looking forward to seeing her compete for many years in a sport she is passionate about.