Michael Wuestenfeld will bike in honor of aunt
PLAINFIELD – Michael Wuestenfeld was “paging through the internet” phone, looking at “major league baseball stuff” when an ad popped up.
The timing was perfect.
This meant Wuestenfeld, 49, of Plainfield, could show support for his aunt, who has multiple sclerosis. And he had reason to buy a new bike.
Wuestenfeld, a long-distance and endurance cyclist, will ride 100 miles in the Bike MS: Tour de Farms on June 10 and June 11. The tour will start and end at the Northern Illinois University Convocation Center in DeKalb.
It’s a first in many ways for him. It’s his first MS fundraiser and it’s the first time Wuestenfeld will bike 100 miles.
“My maximum is 75,” Wuestenfeld said.
His aunt, Joni Mount-Wuestenfeld, 64, of Elk Grove Village, is touched by her nephew’s efforts and said this is the first time anyone has raised funds with her in mind. It’s especially meaningful since this is the 20th year since her diagnosis.
“I’m absolutely amazed and impressed,” Joni said. “He’s really been working very hard at this. I’m very excited about it and so proud of him.”
Joni said she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1997, although – looking back – Joni feels the disease first appeared five years earlier.
“I had optic neuritis,” Joni said. “I lost vision in one eye.”
Then one day in 1997, Joni’s right side went completely numb.
“It was either MS or a stroke,” Joni said. “I was diagnosed with MS immediately.”
In the early years, Joni had flare-ups of complete numbness. She couldn’t hold a pencil and had trouble walking. Flare-ups were treated with a round of steroids.
“They were like glue,” Joni said of the steroids. “They seemed to put everything back together again. Then, I had to deal with the side effects of the steroids. It was a vicious cycle.”
In 2007 Joni, who worked on sales, went on disability. Still, Joni keeps as active as she can, even though she now walks with a cane, has heat intolerance and often feels as if she has “100-pound sandbags on her legs.”
“I do miss it [working] even though I don’t have the energy to do it,” Joni said.
But Joni does co-lead a support group in the Elk Grove Village area for people with multiple sclerosis where she’s met “a lot of good people with MS.” Joni said her son knows a woman who was diagnosed with MS at age 14, but the woman is doing well.
“She’s getting married in September,” Joni said.
As a seller of medical devices, Michael is aware of the benefits of wellness and fitness. He started biking at age 25 – first mountain biking and now road biking. Michael bikes for three reasons.
“To keep the blood moving, to keep disease away and to keep healthy,” Michael said.
He typically bikes 25 to 55 miles a week, generally in the early morning and on weekends. To train for the Bike MS: Tour de Farms, Michael said he headed over to Joliet Cathedral and St. Patrick “to ride the hills.”
“I’ll stop through Rockdale, as well,” Michael said. “Ill train in head winds...it’s exhilarating and releases endorphins in your brain nothing else can produce.”
HOW TO HELP
To donate to Michael Wuestenfeld’s “Aunt Joni,” visit http://shawurl.com/330o.
According to the Mayo Clinic website, multiple sclerosis in an incurable disease where the immune system attacks the “protective sheath (myelin) that covers nerve fibers,” disrupting communication between the brain and the rest of the body.”
Symptoms and disease progression vary from person to person. Some people have mild symptoms; others have occasional flareups. Still others become disabled. Signs of MS may include:
• Numbness or weakness in one or more limbs that typically occurs on one side of the body at a time, or the legs and trunk
• Partial or complete loss of vision, usually in one eye at a time, often with pain during eye movement
• Prolonged double vision
• Tingling or pain in parts of the body
• Electric-shock sensations that occur with certain neck movements, especially bending the neck forward (Lhermitte sign)
• Tremor, lack of coordination or unsteady gait
• Slurred speech
• Problems with bowel and bladder function