Who am I? A more difficult question to answer than I had originally thought. I will elaborate more on that later. I grew up the youngest of 7 children in Idaho Falls, Idaho. Even though I was born into a large family, I spent the majority of my life doing things on my own. I was stubborn, independent and didn’t like to be told what to do. I always made my plans and asked for permission later. A trait that drove my parents and most around me crazy. As soon as I graduated HS I accepted a nanny job in Connecticut for newborn twin girls and a 2 year old boy. It was good money, and allowed for a lot of traveling and freedom. This was also when I started pursuing my athletic goals. I joined Player’s gym, and started lifting weights and working on my strength /conditioning. I was introduced to a whole new world of discipline and dedication that I just dug. It opened up my eyes to my own capabilities. I loved how it increased my confidence and feeling of self worth. I have no doubt this was the key to my courage and survival through tragedies I would experience in the coming years. I went on to pursue careers in business management, had kids and moved all over the states to gain as much knowledge of the world as I could. All the while, using weight training and physical activity as a source of personal strength. No matter what I faced or what decisions I was forced to make, I never doubted myself. I always had an answer at my disposal and solutions came easy to me. By 2011, it would appear to everyone that I had finally achieved “Success”. I was a well respected Store Manager, wife, mother of two amazing kids and started an MMA company, JSMMA. I had everything a person could ask for, with one exception – happiness.
You know that chase that you begin in life, that one that doesn’t allow you to stop and enjoy the very life you worked so hard to create? I was in that chase. I felt nothing, detached from my own family and refused to acknowledge my own talents. I was hyper focused on what I still needed to accomplish. If anything, I would call that a tragedy. My chase ended abruptly in February 2012. I had experienced the devastating loss of my oldest brother a few months prior, and was pushing myself to my limit with work and MMA. Unbeknownst to me, I was born with a congenital brain disorder called “Agenesis” (A Partial Absence of the Corpus Collasum), this was a literal time bomb waiting to go off inside my own body. It made itself known on February 20th, 2012. It was my day off, and I hadn’t been feeling well for a few months. But on this day it refused to allow me to ignore it any longer. I was no longer able to talk, walk, think clearly or comprehend what was happening. I was numb from head to toe, felt excruciating sharp pains in my head and face, sporadic spasms throughout my entire body. I had no idea what it was but I knew in that moment my life would never be the same again. I was definitely right about that part. I was admitted to the hospital and spent a week on the neurology floor. They put me through every test you can think of. The confusion lay in the fact that I was born with this brain disorder, yet I was a high functioning person for the majority of my life. So why now? That answer is still a puzzle to me and my doctors. The speculation is that I pushed myself to my breaking point, that the receptors which had been compensating for my missing part of the corpus collasum short circuited and left me with the symptoms of the disorder. There is no cure, there is no treatment plan and no recovery. It’s considered a life long struggle of managing symptoms and easing pain. After leaving the hospital, I was left with unraveling the puzzle that was now my life. I grew closer to my kids, but struggled with my identity because all I really had before was my work and I failed miserably as a wife. I don’t say that to blame myself or hint at regret. I just wasn’t the person I was before. Everything and everyone around me had to change or adapt with me, or it ended. The only thing that is the same now is my love for my kids, my family and MMA.
That leads me to the first statement “Who am I?”. I am still finding that out myself. I’m just a girl, one that struggles everyday to accept the new me, that fights for understanding of my condition and tries to be there for the people who count on me. I’ve learned to walk on my own again, this ability changes minute by minute due to the brain spasms, as with my speech. I spend the majority of my days in pain, I revel in moments when I don’t have any. My memory, comprehension and retention has been affected. I have to avoid situations that cause any stress or tension. This is easier said than done because sometimes we are our own source of that 🙂 I love to laugh and still have a crazy sense of humor , I am very grateful for that. MMA is still my passion in life. There is nothing about the sport that doesn’t fascinate me. I love the fighters, their struggles and pursuit of making something of themselves. I hope to get strong enough to be able to travel to attend different local MMA fights, Bellator and UFC events. That’s really the only big dreams I have these days. In the meantime, I try to be happy with who I am and love the people around me.
Peace and Love. JM
PLEASE WATCH HER STORY