Shreveport, Louisiana – Triathlon training demands vigorous discipline. A triathlete swims, runs and cycles, competing in a trial of mental and physical fitness that challenges the body and soul and requires total commitment.
So does earning the title of registered nurse. Both classroom and clinical work require total student commitment.
The common theme in these seemingly unrelated activities is endurance.
Schooled in this endurance, Allsup client Kelly Boyd Smith is a highly skilled registered nurse and veteran of several triathlons. As a nurse for 22 years, Mrs. Smith worked in heart, liver and kidney transplant units in Texas and Louisiana, while training for triathlons in her free time.
Away from the busy hospital, Mrs. Smith enjoyed running and cycling with friends. “A friend asked me to think about a triathlon, but I wasn’t a good swimmer,” she said, “She taught me to swim correctly, and I was hooked.”
Mrs. Smith completed five triathlons, including one at Olympic distance. Mrs. Smith explained, “You swim two miles, bike 23 miles, and then run a 10K, which is about 6.3 miles.”
However, the Olympic triathlon in Memphis would be her last one.”
I tore my left bicep muscle and had surgery,” she explained. “At my first post-op visit, I told my doctor that I felt as if I had the flu. The fatigue just did not go away.” The doctor told Mrs. Smith that the anesthesia from surgery needed to clear her system.”
But it didn’t clear my system. I had to do something. I couldn’t even buy groceries because I couldn’t push my cart,” she said.
A new doctor diagnosed Mrs. Smith with fibromyalgia. Under this physician’s care, Mrs. Smith was soon back caring for patients; unaware what else lay dormant within her.
Pneumonia and blood clots attacked her lungs in May 2008. Mrs. Smith nearly died. In the hospital, she mentioned a family connection to muscular dystrophy. She was soon diagnosed with ocular pharyngeal muscular dystrophy, which affects swallowing and other functions.
“I was aware of the possibility from family history, but until I actually had the test, it did not seem real.”
With a recent near-death experience and two disabling conditions, Mrs. Smith knew her nursing days were over. Just managing her physical problems was tough. This news hit her hard.
“I took a step off a mountain from competing in triathlons to being a prisoner in my own body. It’s hard to describe the place I was, a very dark place. I don’t even know how, but one day I decided ‘this is it’-I am going to do the best I can to deal with what I have and move on, deal with it or become an invalid, partially because of my mind,” she said.
Allsup was there in August 2009, right when she needed them the most. Founded in 1984 by a former Social Security Administration field representative, Allsup is the nation’s leading non- attorney disability representation company.
“At the time, I did not have the energy or the brainpower to fight for my disability benefits,” she said. “I saw advertisements on TV for lawyers. I just was not going there. One day I read information about Allsup on my computer.
“Something drew me in, and I read about their services. My grandmother always taught me that if you think something is too good to be true, it probably is. But this time I was wrong,” said Mrs. Smith.
She noticed on the website how long Allsup had been in business. “When companies have been around that long, they are doing something right. You don’t stay in business if you stink at what you do.”
“I called Allsup and the first person I talked with was quite upfront. She set realistic expectations. She was very artful in describing Allsup’s services in helping me work through the Social Security system. She made me understand in a kind way and was respectful of my medical background.”
Her positive experience continued. “From my first contact with Allsup, they had a good understanding of my disease processes,” she said. “The staff made everything simple for me; they had sympathy for me but did not let me feel sorry for myself.”
Mrs. Smith described the day in November 2009 when she received word from Allsup that she would receive Social Security Disability benefits in Louisiana.
“It was like somebody waved a magic wand, and I learned my disability benefits were granted. I was happy, but I also felt very sad-an odd feeling knowing that I could never return to what I loved to do, nursing.
“I really admire Allsup. What they do is a phenomenal thing. I talk to everybody about what they did for me,” Mrs. Smith said. “From my very first contact, I knew I made the right decision by calling Allsup.”