Osteoporosis isn't generally something young people need to worry about. But don't try telling that to Kim Welch, who was diagnosed with the condition when he was just 20 years old.
Kim's story, the Columbia (Missouri) Daily Tribune reports, began during his senior year of high school. He started feeling pain in his right knee while lifting weights. He worked through it. But as time went on, the pain intensified and spread to other joints throughout his body. "After six or seven months, I was like, 'This is not right. Something is wrong,'" Kim tells the paper.
At that point, Kim and his family embarked on a search for answers that included visits to "nearly 20 doctors." None were able to pinpoint a cause or offer a treatment plan. "It got really depressing," Kim's mom, Sharon, tells the paper. "We thought, 'Is this one of those conditions that no one really knows what it is and there's no cure?'"
The answer to that question would come when, in an act of desperation, Kim's family urged his doctors to refer him to Mayo Clinic's Rochester campus. They did, and after running some tests, Kim was diagnosed with treatable forms of osteoporosis, spondyloarthritis and hypogonadism. Kim was shocked. "I was like, 'What in the world? Osteoporosis is what 70, 80, 90-year-old people have,'" he tells the paper.
Kim at least had an explanation for the pain that had plagued him. "Mayo to me was a turning point," he tells the paper. "I had a diagnosis and a game plan."
That game plan, Kim tells us, included meeting with an endocrinologist, rheumatologist and physical therapists at Mayo who put him on a treatment plan to get him pain-free and back to the active lifestyle he'd known before. "After a few months of treatment, the pain gradually became more manageable," Kim says. His improvement continued, eventually allowing Kim to return to school to earn a degree in education. Six months after his diagnosis, he was back to weight training at his local gym.
It was at that gym where a friend asked Kim if he'd seen a show called American Ninja Warrior. He hadn't. But after he tuned in, he decided to try out. So Kim began training — a lot. "I found out really quickly that it was a lot harder than I thought it was going to be," he tells us.
Nevertheless, he continues to train "two to three" times a day — sometimes on the playground of the elementary school where he teaches third grade — to perfect the skills and techniques he plans to use once he finally makes it onto the show. And while that call hasn't yet come, Kim tells us he's going to "keep training until it does," adding that he's grateful to be healthy enough to do these kinds of things again. "I really can't thank Mayo Clinic enough" he says. "Coming from where I was medically, it almost doesn't seem real."
You can read more of Kim's story here. And you can watch his latest American Ninja Warrior application video here. Then, go ahead and share your comments below before you use the social media tools to share this story with others.