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May 11, 2010 > Tammy Schmidt-A Woman of Courage

Tammy Schmidt-A Woman of Courage

By Suzanne Ortt
Photos By Doris Nikolaidis

If you developed multiple sclerosis (MS), would your life change? Tammy Schmidt's did. For her, living with this disease is a daily challenge, one she faces resolutely.

Multiple sclerosis is a persistent, often debilitating disease that attacks the central nervous system consisting of the brain, spinal cord, and optic nerves. Most people with MS learn to cope with the disease and continue to lead satisfying, productive lives.

Schmidt's health problems began a few years ago with two strokes, about eight months apart. During the MRI, MS was detected. Her only possible symptom had been tingling in her legs during her teenage years. Prior to the MRI, she was unaware of the multiple sclerosis. Several factors may have contributed to her health problems, including a family medical history of high blood pressure, and the stress of her first marriage.

The diagnosis, "relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis," was an unhappy surprise. With this type, the patient experiences varied symptoms, sometime severe. These can then disappear, usually suddenly, and commonly, for a long period of time.

Now she has a happy marriage with her husband, Ron Schmidt. Their blended family includes their 14-year-old son and three adult children, one from Schmidt's previous marriage, and twin stepdaughters. Her husband is exceptionally supportive, almost beyond belief.

Schmidt has a satisfying and productive life. Caring for her family, running a business, and managing her MS keeps her active. The National Multiple Sclerosis Foundation gives the following steps to control multiple sclerosis: regular aerobic exercise, get enough rest and avoid stress, keep cool as heat may worsen MS symptoms, eat a healthy diet, and, very importantly, have emotional support. She follows the recommendations.

Although Schmidt has more good days than bad, these symptoms are present to some degree: numbness or weakness in her right side and partial loss of vision in her right eye, double vision or blurring vision, and tingling in parts of her body. Add fatigue and dizziness to her complex MS characteristics. Twice she needed a walker to move around. Each episode lasted a week and then, suddenly, the condition vanished.

Schmidt learned early the advantage of regular exercise. She joined Curves, a local gym in Niles, six years ago after her first stroke. Since then, she has worked there both as a circuit coach and manager. Nearly three years ago, she purchased the business.

Keeping fit is her vehicle to maintain health. Working at the gym has become a passion, to help her and other women to become healthier and stronger. Each year millions of women suffer from preventable disease. Schmidt believes lives can be improved and lengthened if we take small steps daily toward health.

Her philosophy and practices reflect the value of the Curves mission statement. "Together, we will make this world one million women stronger." She believes fitness needs to be a priority. This committed woman shares her strength and her smile with all other members. She hopes others will feel better and live better, which will positively affect everyone.

Schmidt knows with her husband's encouragement, her family's caring, and by determinedly following the recommended regimen, she will beat Multiple Sclerosis. It will not beat her. Indeed she is a woman of courage.

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