Meet the new girl: Dina Neils, The Titanium Triathlete
Written by Dina Neils on April 19, 2014
Greetings CreakyJoints community! I’m the new girl, Dina Neils, The Titamium Triathlete and I’m stoked to be blogging for CreakyJoints. I’d like to start by inviting you to get to know me on a personal level.
I’m an extrovert, corky and nerdy. I’m a dog lover, enjoy baking, playing video games, and believe that the zombie apocalypse will happen. I have pet deer, was adopted as a baby, and know how to handle firearms. I feel most like myself in nature, and I read the book before I watch the movie.
Oh, and I’m a runner/ triathlete that has been fighting RA for over a decade with two total hip replacements to show for it.
I was diagnosed at age 18 – an accomplished runner starting my first year of collegiate competition. RA started in my foot while training for cross country season – within weeks, chronic pain/inflammation spread throughout my body. I went from being a healthy athlete to becoming disabled.
“You will never run again and you will be in a wheel chair by the time you’re in your mid-20s.”
I couldn’t believe the doctors words. After what felt like hours of silence, my words spewed out all on their own: “No, you’re wrong.” I wasn’t willing to accept that diagnosis.
Even with an arsenal of the best medical treatment like daily pain killers, steroids, cortisone shots, weekly self-injections, chemotherapy, and monthly infusions — the disease was unrelenting. RA deteriorated my hips – nothing but bone grinding on bone. I had two total hip replacements – and for the second time in my life, I learned how to walk again… twice.
I read a quote once that said, “Running teaches us to keep moving forward, one step at a time, especially in the most painful moments.” Running, indirectly, had already molded me into a fighter.
Over 9 years’ time, I kept trying to get back to running. My attempts were trial and error and my body would return the favor with an increase in inflammation/stiffness the next day. I loved running though and wasn’t going to give it up.
I changed my diet to a strict Paleo base – avoided carbohydrates, sugars and processed foods, and only consumed fruits, vegetables, chicken, fish and nuts. Remarkably after a month I was thriving – less pain, fatigue and inflammation, and was feeling healthier and stronger than ever.
Over the last two years I’ve completed 8 running races including one half marathon, in addition to my first triathlon. Last year, I was blessed to be able to achieve remission – thanks to the perfect medication regimen per my physicians, change of diet, and regular exercise. Now I’m running races and triathlons to create awareness to help find a cure.
I’m blogging for CreakyJoints to share my everyday life challenges as a triathlete battling RA. I believe that my purpose is to use my journey as an opportunity to inspire and be a source of strength for others who are walking in the same footsteps. Topics will include: mental and physical challenges, experiences with medications and physicians, diet changes and favorite foods, difficulties with swim/bike/run training and racing, favorite workouts and modifying exercises.