Karen Skålvoll

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At only five years old, Karen Skålvoll began her career in sports: She swam, ran, rode and liked to ride her bicycle. But already in her younger years she felt that she had to try harder than her peers. Karen suffers from alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency, a congenital metabolic disease. It means that this enzyme is formed and released in error or in insufficient quantities.

 

Over the course of the disease there is an increased risk of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), especially in adults. When Karen received her diagnosis, the disease was already well advanced. Sitting back and giving up - not an option for Karen.

Watch Karens Story
Watch Karen’s story in the video
The doctors told me that I had to start making arrangements. I wouldn't see the next year.“

The correct diagnosis failed to materialize

 

“In 2006 I was incorrectly diagnosed with a hypersensitive bronchial system," explains the 45-year-old. But after this diagnosis and the corresponding treatment, the symptoms didn't improve. On the contrary, Karen's condition deteriorated dramatically: When she was training for a marathon in 2009, her lungs suddenly gave up and she was rushed to hospital. Karen remembers: “The doctors told me that I had to start making arrangements. I wouldn’t see the next year.” 

It was like a new life for me. Through those therapies I was able to do sports again.“

Karen didn’t give up

 

The shock was quickly followed by her absolute will to take her destiny into her own hands. She finally received the correct diagnosis from a specialist in Germany in October 2011. With the help of medication, a substitution therapy as well as oxygen support by the mobile concentrator SimplyGo mobile Mini, Karen can now master everyday life again. “It was like a new life for me. Through those therapies I was able to do sports again", says the Norwegian who lives in Germany. “Sport has always been part of my life, but now it might also mean staying alive longer.”  

“Sport has always been part of my life, but now it might also mean staying alive longer.“

Athletic Performance

 

Karen improves continuously, step by step. Giving up was never an option for her. She proved this with weight training, her current best discipline. Through her persistence she managed to lift 125 kg during the 2017 Arnold Classics in the new category "People with Disabilities" - more than any other participant, thus setting the world record! Shortly after she set other world records at Britain's Strongest Disabled Man with 127.5- 130 - 140 kg. But she not only competes in contests for people with disabilities - she also participates in the regular national weightlifting championships in Norway, where she has reached 6th place.

“Now my life is quite normal for me. Only a bit slower.“

Free and flexible - with SimplyGo Mini

 

SimplyGo Mini is Karen’s first choice when traveling and during any other activities. The mobile concentrator allows her to finally be spontaneous again - and to always have enough "air" both in everyday life as well as in performance sports.  “I can easily take the small device everywhere, no matter if I’m going to the gym or traveling on a plane to a competition.” With her team, the Alpha-1 Athletes and her worldwide presence as an athlete and speaker, Karen not only brings attention to the disease, but also encourages other patients with respiratory diseases to stay mobile and active in order to strengthen their lungs. She takes stock with a smile: “Now my life is quite normal for me. Only a bit slower.”