Wrestling with Multiple Sclerosis

I’m a 36 year old woman, a cat mom, a social justice warrior, an advocate, a pro wrestler, an anxiety-ridden people-pleaser, and, for the last year, a multiple sclerosis warrior. I don’t know why I’m writing this except for the fact that my birthday just passed and 35 was a hell of a ride.

For those who have known me for a lot of my life, the word most of them use to describe me is “stubborn” (or some nicer variant of stubborn like “tenacious”, “driven”, or “determined”). I spent about 10 years of my life, from the age of 15, single-mindedly pursuing a career as a community police officer. Every obstacle that was thrown my way, I gritted my teeth and bulled through it. I completed the police academy and became a police officer in 2015 while finishing and receiving my bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and sociology.

After 2 years as an officer, to my utter horror and despair, I realized that policing was not what fulfilled me. What I really wanted to do was serve the community as a social worker (which I guess should have been obvious since my coworkers began to call me the “social worker officer”). After a brief mourning period, I pivoted hard, eventually leading to a career advocating for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault years later.

Randomly, when I was falling out of love with policing, I was falling hard for pro wrestling. When I say “randomly”, I mean my partner and brother-in-law didn’t invite me to Wrestlemania, so I started to almost spitefully watch NXT. It was during the time when WWE’s “Four Horsewomen” (Becky, Sasha, Bayley, and Charlotte) were coming up and I was completely in awe of how athletic and captivating they were. So, at 28 years old, I began training 3 days a week at a NJ pro wrestling school where I got to learn my foundations from amazing minds like WWE’s Damian Priest. And for the last 7 years (barring a few bumps and breaks in the form of knee surgeries and the pandemic), pro wrestling has been one of my passions.

As someone who grew up doing gymnastics, pro wrestling is the most physically and mentally daunting thing I have ever participated in. But, my goodness, is it rewarding! Not only do you get to challenge yourself in ways you never thought possible, you get to build these incredible relationships within the community that I had been yearning for. Pro wrestling provides such an utterly unique way to give back to the community, especially by fighting for those who may feel voiceless, showing strength during hard times and battles, and forming bonds with the fans. These bonds, these moments that I got to share with fans, are memories that can never be replicated. I cherish them beyond belief! Being able to talk to a little girl about how she wants to grow up to be a wrestler like me, hearing about a boy who got all A’s on his report card and his reward was to come to the show, literally watching another little boy stand up to my “bully” opponent during our match while he waves his little purple sword, and cheering on a girl I mentored as she makes her entrance as a pro wrestler for the first time… these moments keep me coming back to the wrestling ring.

It was due to this that I decided to make my final comeback after another knee surgery during the summer of 2023. And then the dizzies attacked. I could not get off my couch without the world tilting around me as a roaring filled my ears. I was sick to my stomach every time I stood up and could barely move my head without feeling like I would fall to the floor. Two visits to the hospital, three ENTS, two neurologists, one primary care doctor who fought to get me an MRI, and one week in-patient at the hospital later, anomalies in the form of lesions were found on my brain. And my world tilted in a whole new way.

I had Relapsing-Remitting Multiple Sclerosis. It was “caught early”, I was “lucky” to have “mild symptoms”, and I could go back to my “new, normal” life. For the last 10 months, my life has become a learning curve. I revel in and celebrate the days when I get to go to the gym and lift the way I used to or can go to the beach with my family and ride my bike in the sun. Because there are days, more days than I would like to admit, where I struggle to just push through the work week due to the fatigue from MS.The dizzy spells and pain in my ears have lessened over time (never fully disappearing), but sometimes the stress of starting a new job or lack of sleep from anxiety hits me in a way it never would have in the past. My body reminds me that, it doesn’t matter how “stubborn” or “determined” I am, I better sit my booty down before MS makes me sit down. I’ve had days where I’d go to the gym and was forced to cut my session short so I could race home to vomit. And then I cleaned myself up and went to work because I just started my new job as a case manager for youth at risk of homelessness and clients depend on me. I’ve had days where I sat on my couch and cried because there is no pushing through the dizziness and I feel utterly betrayed by my own body. These days are unpredictable, and I’m forced to pivot to manage them. But life doesn’t stop because I have MS, and I refuse to let MS become my entire life.

So yes, I am still working to define what my “new normal” looks like. But I went to my first two pro wrestling training sessions at The Worldwide Dojo and Wrestle Pro recently and lifted, threw, flew, and rolled my way around that ring. I challenged myself to attempt new moves and dusted off old basics while taking a beat between drills to make sure the dizzies didn’t creep up on me. I want to make sure, at the end of the day, that I’m safe not only for myself but for those who share the ring with me and trust their bodies in my hands. I woke up the next day sore from my neck down, but gushing to the brim with happiness that I COULD wrestle again.

At this point, my future in wrestling is still a big question mark. I have a VERY tentative return date with a promoter who understands my situation. Training consistently to be safe for everyone in the ring is the first of a handful of hurdles. All I know is I could choose to let MS rule me, or I can control what is within my ability to control. I choose the latter. I choose to fight, because that’s what I’ve done my entire life and I’m not about to let MS change that about me, too. Every step forward brings me closer to wrestling with MS.