“I am happy when I’m covered in mud! I am happy when I'm pushing myself and over coming things I didn't think were possible at one time.” Pamela Thistle’s winning attitude has helped her over come so much more than she ever imagined.
Usher’s Syndrome took away Pamela Thistle’s ability to see some obstacles, but it didn’t take away her determination to overcome them. It’s an invisible disability that resulted in hearing loss and progressive deterioration in vision (night blindness and loss of peripheral vision).
While manageable at first, symptoms worsened until she had to stop working in her much beloved career as an Interior Designer. She fell into depression, and decreased her once regular activity. One day, struggling to shovel the snow, Pamela realized things had to change. The next day, she joined a gym. She was tired of feeling sorry for herself and hiding away from the world. She decided it was time to start living. Pamela had lots of available time and she was all out of excuses.
Her journey started in the gym, before she moved to boot camp, yoga and kickboxing. She later discovered Crossfit and Obstacle Course Racing – and her life changed. She opened up about her disability, found resources like Guide runners and learned she could do anything she put her mind to. Pamela shared with me what that journey looked like.
Try many different things. You never know what you’ll love or what you’re really good at! Don’t be afraidTweet This!
Perspiration Inspiration: Lack of sight is no obstacle for Pamela Thistle, Mudd Queen
AT: How did people close to you react when you talked about doing obstacle races?
PT: They thought I was crazy. They worry, but now they are used to it. I’m living my life for me, not them. Some people don’t approve and have told me to give it up. My husband still shakes his head every time I tell him about my new challenge because they keep getting bigger and bigger. I felt scared and overwhelmed but facing fears is what makes me stronger.
AT: Do people in athletics treat you differently?
PT: I don’t think they treat me differently. Coaches adjust their training to suit me. In Olympic Lifting, my coach teaches based on how it feels rather than how it should look. In my last Go Ruck event I brought a guide with me and the leader said that he hoped I wasn’t expecting special treatment. The group came together and not once did anyone make me feel like I was holding them back or that I couldn’t do the same things they were doing. It was really amazing! That was the hardest event I’ve done to date.
AT: How does it feel to trust a guide with your safety?
PT: It took me a while to put my trust in a guide, but not one has led me astray yet. I am more relaxed and trusting with every event I do. I have the best guides ever. They are extreme event fanatics like me. I met a few guides through Achilles Canada. I found a lot of my own guides by meeting people and asking.
AT: How do you stay motivated?
PT: This year has been very challenging; I’ve had one set back after another. I got very frustrated and there were times I just wanted to give up. Then I would think about how happy I am after I finish reaching a goal I have set. I am truly happy when I’m moving.
AT: What advice do you have for people starting out on their own fitness journey?
PT: Try many different things. You never know what you will love or what you are really good at! Don’t be afraid.
A question about barriers, obstacles and ‘Excusitis' – What's holding you back?
Pamela’s unlikely journey from blindness and depression to running obstacle courses, enjoying Crossfit and finding community goes to show that you don’t need to be able to see a barrier to overcome it. With determination anything is possible, all it takes is a little faith in yourself and the will to succeed.
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Alison Tedford is a freelance writer from Abbotsford, BC. She is a single mom who documents her journeys in parenting, fitness and feminism on Sparkly Shoes and Sweat Drops
Read on as she contributes motivational stories in her column, #PerspirationInspiration, right here on the Moose is Loose.