My name is Kristin Pagent. I am 43 years old and recently retired from the Navy after 20 years. I studied opera at Northwestern University, am married to my soulmate and have two boys, 12 and 16. I am a professional singer and also teach piano, strings, and voice lessons. I love living in Annapolis, but I miss my big fat Greek family back in Chicagoland.
In the summer of 2010, I was training for my 5th triathlon. After a 22 mile bike ride to work, I felt tingling in my back. I went to the doctor who gave me Flexural and I went back to training. The tingling intensified and I got a referral to go see a neurologist. They found 3 lesions but called it Clinically Isolated Syndrome because it was only one episode. My husband’s (Chris’) Mom had MS and this felt like it had to be a joke.
I’m on active duty in the Navy. Am I going to lose my job? Insurance? What about my 2 little boys? The neurologist told me to “fly under the radar”…if I stayed within Navy standards I could stay in.
Two months later, I got optic neuritis and the doctors found more lesions. I was being seen at the old Walter Reed when it was still in DC. I had a roommate that was diagnosed at the same time but she had completely surrendered to being helpless. It was awful and I was scared. Fast forward ten years…I was able to hang on and make it to retirement. Praise the Lord! While flying under the radar, I had countless spinal taps, MRIs, IVIGs, ketamines, steroids, ocrevus and too many days of life missed because of this stupid disease.
I was a member of the US Navy Band for 20 years. I toured every state except for Alaska and sang for highranking officials at numerous shows; from living rooms to the SuperBowl. Perhaps in a future blog I will expand on some of my crazy cool experiences (picture of meeting President Barack Obama included here).
I try to stay positive but I let myself have the occasional pity party. It hurts when people who used to rely on me misunderstand my brain fog as lack of caring or commitment. I wish I were strong enough to balance my old frenetic schedule, but alas. That’s probably not going to happen, but that won’t stop me from smiling and making music! My opportunities to perform are much less because of my physical limitations. I recently took over the children’s music at St. Anne’s Episcopal church and working with those kiddos brings a warmth and joy to my heart that keeps me going.
I happened to find MS4MS on Facebook and chose it for my birthday charity last year. Sam reached out and explained his positive mission and welcomed me with warmth and enthusiasm. Sam is a connector and the work that he’s doing to help people like me is amazing. The world is a better place because of people like him. I chose this charity again this year and once again Sam reached out to me and came by my house for a visit. He mentioned a blog, so I thought I’d give it a whirl.
It’s hard to conclude my first blog here because I feel like everything in my life is in transition and I just tapped open a floodgate of ideas that I want to write about. That being said, I look forward to what the future holds and feel grateful to be surrounded by #MSwarriors. Like Tina (MS4MS Lead MS Warrior Ambassador) says…#crushinglemons is my motto!