Leslie Krongold is originally from North Miami Beach, Florida and currently resides in Northern California. Leslie was an educational multimedia producer before leaving full-time employment at 40 years old due to a progress neuromuscular disease called myotonic dystrophy. She did freelance projects for approximately 10 years after. At age 50, Leslie applied for SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance) as she was unable to be a reliable employee due to her illness. For a few years, Leslie worked as a part-time Outreach Director for a patient advocacy organization. She has been a support group facilitator for 23 years. Leslie is married to a woman and they have been together for 23 years. They have 5 cats.
Accomplishments that Leslie is most proud of are launching a support group program for the Myotonic Dystrophy Foundation, starting a podcast, and continuing to live a quality, fun life.
Leslie’s podcast, titled “Glass Half Full,” launched in March of 2016, begins by telling the story of her own diagnosis and leads into episodes that focus on positive coping skills for individuals with chronic health conditions by having others’ tell their stories while Leslie intuitively listens and asks questions. Leslie explains, “Glass Half Full podcast episodes are a resource and tools for patients, caregivers, and families facing adverse challenges.” Through her podcast Leslie invites individuals to “be a part of the conversation and community.”
During the first episode of the podcast found here (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YoPOsg-BpzE&feature=youtu.be ), Leslie chronicles her own diagnosis story. She explains that when you are a child, you feel invincible. Leslie had good health in her earlier life. In her mid-30s, she went to lunch with a work colleague. As she grasped the handle to get out of the car, she noticed that her hand would not release from its grip. She remembers her late mother telling her about a muscle condition that she had (one calf had less muscle tone that the other calf), but never that it was a rare, hereditary muscular condition.
Leslie proceeded to visit her general practitioner. She thought that it was a minor issue that could be resolved simply. Leslie was scheduled for a blood work panel as the doctor assumed she may be nutritionally deficient. The blood work panel came back negative for any deficiency issues. The general practitioner then referred Leslie to a neurologist. The diagnostics leading up to her diagnosis is what she remembers the most from the experience. Leslie had a procedure called an electromyography, or an EMG for short. An EMG is a diagnostic procedure to assess the nerve cells that control our muscles, and can reveal dysfunction with nerve-to-muscle signal transmission. An EMG uses electrodes (that are inserted into the muscle using a needle) to translate these signals into graphs, sounds, and numerical values. Through the screeching sounds on the machine and the graphs, the doctor had an epiphany, explaining to Leslie that her life is not what she expected it to be. Leslie could only wonder if the doctor realized how much this moment impacted her. Through a DNA test, Leslie received a definitive diagnosis of myotonic dystrophy.
When asked about dance, Leslie stated she loved to dance when she was in high school and college, mostly disco and R&B at gay clubs. She further explained, “it was part of the ‘coming out’ experience in the late 70s.” Once my career began, dancing was limited to what I might break out and do at home to release some steam, or get in a happier place (while listening to old disco tunes).”
Since being semi-retired, Leslie has taken local, community dance classes, but explained that she could not keep up due to impacts related to balance and endurance. Leslie attended in-person dance classes at BORP which she enjoyed; however, she disliked the bright lights in the fitness studio. “It’s great to dance in my house now where I can control the lighting and acoustics,” she said.
Leslie heard about Dance for All Bodies classes from a few participants in BORP’s online classes. She has enjoyed most of the classes she has participated in and appreciates learning about the different dance styles. “The experience is multi-faceted: a good workout, exposure to a new culture, and intellectually stimulating. I especially appreciate the positive energy by instructors like Janpi and Alicia.”
Thank you Leslie for participating in Dance for All Bodies, both as a participant and as a class host! Your warmth, smile, and positivity radiate throughout the class. Thank you for sharing your story and for reminding us that no matter what life hands to us, to always look at the glass as half full.