Jackie Joyner-Kersee: Superwoman 30 Years Later
Jackie Joyner-Kersee is a name synonymous with excellence, drive and winning. Voted “Greatest Female Athlete of the 20th Century” by Sports Illustrated for Women and one of ESPN’s “50 Greatest Athletes of All-Time,” Joyner-Kersee competed in four consecutive Olympics, winning three gold medals, one silver and two bronze. She is the first woman to win an Olympic Gold in the Long Jump. She was even called “Superwoman” by Sports Illustrated. And Sports Illustrated for Women magazine voted Joyner-Kersee the Greatest Female Athlete of All-Time.
Over her 20-year career, the track and field star’s meteoric rise showed no signs of slowing down, until severe knee pain set in.
“Throughout your athletic career as an athlete you don’t think you should get injured, but you do and you deal with chronic pain constantly and you work to still try to get to the top,” Joyner-Kersee said in a recent interview with BlackDoctor.og. “Post my athletic career, some of the chronic pain that I was dealing with still linger on with me.”
Training at an Olympic level for so many years took a drastic toll on her body and like millions of other people dealing with chronic pain, Joyner-Kersee’s healthcare provider prescribed opioid medication.
Known by more common names like Vicodin, OxyContin and Percocet, opioid pain relievers suppress the body’s perception of pain. As with any drug or medication, there are potential side effects, and in having an “uncomfortable” conversation with her doctor, Joyner-Kersee learned she was experiencing one of the most common and perhaps most embarrassing side effect of opioid use: opioid-induced constipation (OIC).
“OIC is not your normal type of constipation,” she shares and to help bring awareness to this condition, Joyner-Kersee has partnered with AstraZeneca to help others who may be living with this condition and feel alone.
Joyner-Kersee shares the OIC symptoms you should be aware of, including:
– Stools that are hard and dry
– Difficulty such as straining, forcing, and pain when defecating
– A constant feeling that you need to use the toilet
– Bloating, distention, or bulges in the abdomen
– Abdominal tenderness
She also explains how OIC is different from ‘normal’ constipation, and that it’s very important to have the conversation with your doctor.
Another thing Kersee has to deal with is her lungs. While she was a top student-athlete at UCLA in the early 1980s, Jackie Joyner-Kersee was diagnosed with asthma. But she hid that fact from her coaches, afraid they would make her stop running.