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Meet Our Members: Sydney Collier, Paralympic Athlete

We recently sat down with Sydney Collier to discuss her Hero experience and how it has changed her life and athletic career. Here's how the conversation went.

Hero Team: 

Could you tell us about yourself and your background? Specifically, what drove you to pursue your interest in para-equestrian Olympics?

Sydney Collier:

I have been a physically disabled athlete since the age of 12. I had my first stroke at the age of 11 during a risky brain surgery for my very rare medical condition known as Wyburn Mason Syndrome. 

The funny thing is, I was actually diagnosed with Wyburn Mason Syndrome at the exact same time that I found equestrian sports, and throughout the chaos of getting diagnosed at the age of seven, horses had always been what really inspired me. 

The minute I sat on a horse, I realized, “Oh my goodness, this is what I want to do with my life.” And I told my parents, "I want to make it onto the team for the Olympics in inventing." And they were like, "Okay, well, that's a big dream, but you can do it." And then I continued riding all throughout from age 7 to 11 doing eventing, which is jumping very large jumps that are immovable. So, at the age of 11 when I had my first stroke, I was left with a choice of, “Do I give up what I love doing, or do I push onward?”

I chose to push onward, and it was that same year that I found the sport of para dressage, and I saw athletes competing and doing what I aspired to do on the world stage. And I realized, “Wow, I can accomplish this.” It's not just because I had a stroke that I have to give up everything that I've dreamed of. Discovering the sport of para dressage was what gave me the freedom to become the athlete that I had always dreamed of, in spite of whatever limitations my body was trying to place on me at any given time.

Hero Team:

Before you were using Hero, was it challenging to manage all your medications as well as your athletic career?

Sydney Collier:

Most definitely. Ever since I was seven years old, I've had to juggle complicated medication routines. From a young age, my family with three young kids struggled to maintain all of our schedules while still remembering my medication times. As I've gotten older and developed into an elite athlete in the Paralympics as a para-equestrian, my competitions became spread out all throughout the country. So to compete on the elite level, we really have to travel a lot. And so, I was really struggling with maintaining a consistent routine with my medication, especially when I was on the road.

I just completely would blank on taking my medications, and my medications basically rely on me taking them at a certain point so that I can get to sleep at a decent hour. And at a competition, the most important part is rest in between our long, daunting days of being active all day. I had a couple of shows where it just got totally out of hand with my medication, and I just totally forgot them. That inconsistency can make it or break it for a competition.

I was also really struggling with my monthly pill organizer. I had so many pills that really looked similar, and with one-handed dexterity and my visual impairment, it really became challenging and very nerve-wracking for me to organize the correct doses for every night and remember them every night before I went into bed. I would have nights where I would lie in bed for an hour trying so hard to sleep, and then I would realize, “Oh no, I forgot to take my medication at the time that I needed to.” 

Hero has eliminated this margin of human error for me and freed up so much brain space for what I actually need to focus on as an athlete.  I double-check my dose after Hero dispenses and I'm good to go. And it's made my sleep schedule, as well as my just daily routine seamless, which is what I was looking for all my life. 

Hero Team:

That’s great to hear. Has your physical and mental health changed since you used Hero? And has it even potentially helped you perform better as an athlete?

Sydney Collier:

100%. I was having a lot of stress about, “Is this day of pills that I created correct? And am I actually going to remember to take it on time?” And Hero has eliminated that piece in my mentality and freed me up to focus on other things, like performance or goals, rather than stressing over medication. It has also helped me to get my sleep routine consistent for the first time in my life. Hero 100% made my athletic career better, because I sleep better when it comes to training, but I also sleep better when it comes to competing because I don't have to lie in bed and wonder, “Did I take my medications? Did I double take my medications? Am I going to be all right in the morning?” There's so much that it's freed up in my mentality.

Sydney Collier riding her horse at a para equestrian competition

Hero Team:

What was your medication adherence like pre-Hero, and how has it changed since using our service? 

Sydney Collier:

Pre-Hero, there were at least a few days a week where I would just completely blank. If I had a really busy day, or if I was doing something in the evening, it would just totally toss out my normal routine. And with traveling, like I said, that totally just threw a wrench in my compliance. 

With Hero, I can safely say that I've not missed a dose in a year. It is mind-blowing to me that I've been that consistent and it hasn't been a chore to remember my medication. It just fits into my life so seamlessly, and it just baffles my mind that every household doesn't have Hero. It eliminates so much stress of organizing your pills, trying to make sure they're right and trying to remember them. Honestly, everyone should have one, no matter their age. And as a younger user of Hero, I can't believe that I didn't do it sooner, because as an athlete, it has helped me to become so much more consistent in my everyday life.

Hero Team:

How has your experience been using Hero during travel?

Sydney Collier:

I don't actually travel with my Hero, but I use Vacation Mode, and it's so simple for me to just dispense the doses when I need to get them ready to pack. It takes less than 10 minutes to get a whole week of pills ready, which is mind blowing to me. And the best thing is, when I'm traveling, the Hero app still sends me a notification of, “Okay, you're supposed to take your pills now,” and then reminds me, “All right, you got to remember.” It basically has been seamless, even when I'm on the road and don't have Hero to travel with me. That's probably my one feedback, is that I wish Hero was a little bit smaller so that I could travel with her.

Hero Team:

By improving your medication adherence, has Hero helped you avoid other medical costs, like unnecessary hospitalizations or visits to the doctor?

Sydney Collier:

Definitely. Two of my medications help to counteract my muscle tightness, which in turn helps me on the horse, which helps me not incur as many body-working costs. Another one of my medications helps to prevent migraines and seizures as a result of my treatments and my condition. Hero definitely helped me to avoid hospitalizations and further medical events because I am giving my body what it needs to stay healthy.

Hero Team:

Which of Hero's features is your favorite, and why?

Sydney Collier:

My favorite is either Vacation Mode, because that just makes my life so easy, or the fact that you can enter your exact number of pills and Hero reminds you when you need to refill your medication. That second feature has honestly been a lifesaver for me, because I don't have to worry as much about running out of medication. And I get notifications on my phone as well when I'm running low. Absolutely life-changing.

Hero Team:

Really great to hear that you're enjoying your experience with Hero thus far! Lastly, what really makes Hero worth it to you?

Sydney Collier:

I would say just how seamlessly Hero integrates into everyday life, whether it be you just needing medication on demand, or if you follow a specific medication routine. It's completely customizable to whatever you need. It is so customizable, and it alleviates the stress and worry of taking medication correctly, which is a total game changer for me and for so many.

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The contents of the above article are for informational and educational purposes only. The article is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified clinician with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or its treatment and do not disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking it because of information published by us.