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A Faint Voice that Sparked a Journey
by Ryan Polly
Hello readers! My name is Ryan Polly, I am excited to be a blogger for Cal-EZ. When I was asked to contribute to this blog, I was thrilled. It is my hope that my journey will serve as inspiration for anyone who is interested in living a healthier life. In 2011, I was diagnosed with Graves' disease, an autoimmune condition of the thyroid gland. Soon afterward, I needed to have an emergency thyroidectomy because my body rejected the necessary treatment. Following the surgery, I struggled to get my life back. In a matter of months, I had gained about 60lbs of weight and felt miserable. Even walking made me out of breath. I was depressed, and I struggled to see a way out. Desperate for something, I joined a nutrition group to focus on eating healthier and regaining strength. A friend I met in the group suggested that I consider running. I thought she was crazy. I couldn’t walk, how on earth could I run? Still, I figured I had nothing to lose, so I met her for a run. I lasted about 30 seconds. Something about that experience lit a fire inside me; I became determined to run. My friend talked me into running a 5k race. A few weeks later, I was at the start line. The 5k was mostly a walk, and again I felt dejected. But, again, that faint voice inside me pushed me to keep trying. There was just enough spark there that I was able to push through the sadness and begin moving my body regularly, slowly building both endurance and muscle. During this time I also found out that my parathyroid glands had been permanently damaged when my thyroid was removed. As a result, I was left with an untreatable endocrine condition, hypoparathyroidism, which will require a lifelong intake of calcium and vitamin D, just to allow my body to function properly. I soon learned that having this condition also meant that exercising was going to be even harder for me. Extensive movement makes my calcium levels plummet, which causes tingling, numbness, and severe cramping. I started to wonder if it was even possible to become a runner, but I was not willing to let hypopara defeat me. If anything, it was the final push I needed to get out there and make it happen. Over the years that followed, I lost weight (around 65 lbs) and became stronger. I have completed 3 marathons, several half marathons, countless 5ks, and even a few mud-obstacle races. I am currently training my body to handle the demands of triathlon with the goal of finishing the ultimate race, Ironman, in 2017. Being an athlete with hypopara is HARD but it IS POSSIBLE. Cal-EZ has been a life saver for me. It allows me to keep up with my calcium intake needs, which helps keep me from crashing. I know that not everyone who reads this will want to run marathons or triathlons, but I do hope that everyone who reads this will be inspired to do something that makes them happy and healthier. Even adding a short walk every day CAN make a difference to your overall well-being. Disclosure: Cal-EZ is supporting me financially through an athletic sponsorship; however, I was taking Cal-EZ prior to receiving the sponsorship because it works! To read other voices struggling with chronic illness and calcium deficiency, please visit our new series, New Year, New Voices.