A Patient’s Story
South Pole Challenge
Genny Brown: The Antarctic Aruban:
Raising awareness of Lyme Disease
“Every time I go out, and I feel the burn in my thighs and lungs, I celebrate!”
One of our patients, Genevieve Brown, is gearing up to carry out the challenge of lifetime. We interviewed her, to find out more about the amazing mission she had taken on.
What are you doing and where?
I’m currently in training to become the first person from the Caribbean Island of Aruba to ski solo and unsupported to the South Pole. This journey will span over 700mi/1200km and I’ll be pulling a pulk (sledge) with all my provisions weighing up to 70kg in the harshest conditions on the planet. A true South Pole Challenge.
What training have you done and what’s left to do?
My training currently consists of:
Gym work: 5 hours per week of strength and conditioning workouts.
Recovery work: 7.5 hours per week doing a mix of walking, yoga and stretching.
Tyre pulling 4 times a week: 3 short pulls of 1.5hours and a longer pull at the weekend lasting 4-8 hours.
In the winter months, I also have winter polar training in Norway where I do practice expeditions which help improve my polar camp craft skills and my cross-country ski skills. Being from the Caribbean, you can imagine that this is all very new to me, so it’s essential that I master the basics of wild camping in the winter, winter navigation and how to traverse in the many different types of snow.
Why are you doing it and what’s Lyme Disease?
The aim of my South Pole expedition is to raise awareness on Lyme Disease.
Lyme Disease is an infectious disease that is caused by Borrelia, a bacterium usually found in ticks. There are over 70 different known symptoms of Lyme Disease and it’s often misdiagnosed because it shares so many similarities to other more common diseases.
I was diagnosed with Lyme Disease in 2016 after suffering with its debilitating effects and being misdiagnosed for 3 harrowing years. I didn’t present with the ‘typical’ bulls-eye rash that some patients get and was told I’d be on antibiotics for the rest of my life as the clinician’s might never be able to diagnose what was causing me to be so ill and fatigued. My neurological functions and memory were particularly affected which was very scary. As I began to recover, I became passionate about making proper diagnosis affordable, accessible, and prompt in the UK so that no one else would suffer as I did.
How has the training affected you physically?
If anything, training has helped improve my mental health and confidence so much. When I first contracted Lyme Disease, I would get sudden fatigue bouts that could last months. At times I couldn’t get out of bed or leave the house for fear of collapsing from fatigue. So to have the strength to deadlift or to haul 40-50kg tyres in the hills for hours on end gives me such joy! Every time I go out, and I feel the burn in my thighs and lungs I celebrate because I can remember those dark days, being laid up in bed not knowing what was causing me to be so ill or if I’d ever recover.
How have Head2Toe physio helped you?
I was out in Norway on a basic winter polar training course in January. This training course was meant to ease me back into things as I’d had major abdominal surgery 4 months prior. We spent the first days refreshing our cross-country ski and camp craft skills before heading out on a mini expedition. After a full day of skiing on the stickiest snow we stopped, set up camp and settled down for the night. I was then awoken in the middle of the night with a terrible pain in my right ankle. I knew immediately that it wasn’t a sprain and most likely plantar fasciitis and thankfully, being surrounded with so much snow, was able to make a nice ice pack to help abate the pain.
As soon as I got back to the UK, I booked in to see Alex at Head2Toe for treatment as I had another important polar training session booked in 6 weeks’ time and I didn’t want to miss it.
Taking my surgery and Lyme Disease into account, Alex did a little core and glute diagnostic with me on my first visit as well as some much-needed manual therapy. He then developed a glute strengthening and calf stretching plan for me which along with my weekly follow-ups with him have helped tremendously!
To find out more and to follow Genny’s South Pole Challenge:
You can find me on Instagram and Facebook: @antarcticaruban.
You can also find my blogs and other info on my website: https://www.antarcticaruban.com
You can sponsor me at: https://gofund.me/495ffc7b
If you have any further questions or wish to contact me to discuss possible corporate sponsorship, please e-mail me: firstname.lastname@example.org
At Head2Toe Physio, we will try and help you achieve your goals.
Dependent on your specific issues, exercises are often prescribed. A range of manual therapy techniques may also be used to try to help alleviate any pain, to help get you exercising as safely as possible. Techniques used might include massage, joint and soft tissue manipulation, acupuncture, taping and electrotherapy.
All our Physiotherapists are highly qualified, experienced, with a variety of post graduate specialisations. If you or anyone you know would like to have a physiotherapy assessment with the team at Dorking , Leatherhead or Crawley , book online here or contact us here.