Andrew Silverman with multiple sclerosis is set to run the United Airlines NYC Half on Sunday
When Staten Island native Andrew Silverman goes on a long run, he doesn’t just get tired: The 31-year-old gets blurry vision, plus a bizarre numbness and tingling in his toes.
The strange feeling, known as Uhthoff’s Phenomenon, is caused by Silverman’s multiple sclerosis — an autoimmune disorder that attacks the central nervous system, leading to fatigue, vision loss, dizziness and, in extreme cases, paralysis and cognitive dysfunction.
“I’m so used to it that I don’t even mind it anymore,” Silverman, a pediatric oncologist who was diagnosed with MS in 2015 says.
On Sunday, the Columbia University Irving Medical Center fellow will shrug it off again to run the United Airlines NYC Half marathon — the sixth 13.1-mile race he’s finished since his diagnosis. And he hopes to complete it in two hours.
His reason for running? Because he can, at least right now.
“I’d love to be running in 30 years, but am I going to be in a wheelchair?” says Silverman. “I can envision every one of the potential major complications of MS, and it scares me.”
Silverman began noticing symptoms in 2012, during his third year at the SUNY Downstate College of Medicine. Whenever he bent over to tie his shoes and his chin touched his chest, his toes tingled. It’s an MS symptom known as Lhermitte’s Sign, often experienced by others as an electric-shock sensation running through the body — but Silverman chalked it up to the stress of medical school.
He started running in 2013, to get in shape for his wedding to his wife, Krystina Randazzo, now 30 and a teacher. He stuck with the running after the big day, and decided to run a half-marathon in Brooklyn in 2015. But that year, Silverman’s health worsened: He was fatigued and seeing double, and unintentionally lost 40 pounds in four months.
By May, days before the half marathon, he was struggling to walk. So he saw a doctor in Staten Island, who ran an MRI and promptly recognized his symptoms as MS indicators. Silverman returned to his own hospital, this time as a patient, and spent four days in inpatient recovery.
He is going to keep running just as long as he can.
posted Wednesday March 13th