Thursday, March 23, 2017

Reclaim Advantage! Reclaim Life! My Boston Marathon Musings and Eddie the Eagle

Jeffrey Spratt,MT
, pioneer of the life changing and life saving Spratt Method of Muscular Therapy suggested that I watch the movie, "Eddie the Eagle." One of the things that facilitates our healing is our powerful connection on and off of the table. We love movies and The West Wing and discovered all of that after I started working with him. The other body workers that I worked with were so constricted in their lives and in their world view. Jeffrey is filled with passion, with purpose and embraces all that life has to offer.

As a survivor of paralytic polio and trauma, in addition to his powerful healing touch, Jeffrey's personality and his whole way of Being is medicine for me - mind, body and soul.

As I watched the movie (with a box of tissues at hand), I was reminded of my 2009 Boston Marathon run. I closed my eyes on the bus ride out to Hopkinton. When Eddie the Eagle said, "It's a lot higher than I expected it to be," I remember how I felt going out 26.2 miles knowing there was only one way I was going to get back to Boston...and that was on my two feet.

So many wonderful quotes that I identified with in the movie:
"You can do your best and still finish last."
"I love proving people wrong."
"You've got more Spirit than any of those other jumpers out there."

I really had no business running the 2009 Boston Marathon yet it was a calling from deep inside my soul. Any of the nay sayers along the way were quickly unfriended by me on Facebook. I remember there was a FB post about whether or not Charity Runners should even be allowed to run the Boston Marathon. Team McManus raised over $10,000 - $10,535 to be exact for Spaulding Rehab which is where I began this crazy journey 10 years ago.

From "Going the Distance: The Power of Endurance" available on Amazon:

Running? Mary McManus? aka "Easy Out Alper" (my maiden name) - um a rather unlikely combination to say the least. But not impossible despite all appearances to the contrary. After intensive, extensive outpatient rehab through Spaulding Rehab, writing poems, visualizing myself as healthy, whole and free in my body, quitting my stressful job as a VA social worker, and then hiring a personal trainer, I felt this urge inside of me.

At my six-month evaluation in February, I had dramatically improved in every area of the assessment. I had come out of my leg brace and I knew that I was on a healing path. Janine asked me what my next health and fitness goals were.

“Well I want to feel free in my body. I want to dance. I want to be able to walk outside and feel unencumbered when I take a walk.”

Janine wrote feverishly and we worked out a plan. She gathered up her belongings and had her hand on the doorknob.

“Wait. I have one more goal.”

Janine stopped and turned around.

“I want to run the Boston Marathon for Spaulding Rehab Hospital. I know they have a Race for Rehab team and I want to do it next year.”

Janine was nonplussed. I don’t know what kept her from turning tail and getting as far away from me as she could. She came back into my house and put down her things. She said that the first thing I would need is a pair of running shoes. She told me that Marathon Sports on Beacon Street would be able to help me. She laid out a cursory training plan and said that we would begin indoors to build up my cardio endurance. As soon as the weather got a little warmer, we’d go outdoors and I would learn how to run.

There was one "ugly" moment on Marathon Monday. We had an early start but by the time we arrived in Framingham the waves of runners were catching up to us. There was a narrow water stop and one guy pushed me and said that I shouldn't be in the Marathon if I were walking. He dumped Gatorade on my running shoes.

I shook it off and went ahead undeterred believing that I had every right to be out on that course. I had worked hard. I had trained and ultimately I crossed that finish line!

I continue to work and at times struggle in my epic journey to heal the effects of paralytic polio and trauma.

That's what makes the triumph so sweet....

And to all of the Mary McManuses and Eddie the Eagles out there I have one thing to say - never ever give up on your dreams!

To your health and wellness,

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Reclaim Advantage! Reclaim Life! When a run is so much more!

First let me say what a blessing and a gift it is to be able to do my core work and weighted clams and just head out the door on a run. I know in every fiber of my Being that this miracle of healing is brought about by the work I am doing with Jeffrey Spratt,MT who pioneered his very own method of muscular therapy that heals trauma and for me the effects of paralytic polio. It's the power of positive quality touch with love and compassion along with a touch of humor and playing trivial pursuit West Wing style!

When "they" told me in December of 2014 after a very serious knee injury that I would never run again, I was heartbroken. Running is my medicine, my therapy, my joy and my sangha (my tribe). I just knew I had to find a way to come back. I was so blessed to first meet Dr. Ryan Means, a chiropractor healer who reignited my belief in my body's capacity to heal and directed me to the work of Dr. Joe Dispenza. Jeffrey and Ryan made quite the team until Ryan moved to China to bring his gifts to the other side of the world.

The imprint he left on my heart, body, mind and soul remain and fuel my health and wellness journey!

It was the first temperate weather day in New England in a very long time. It seemed like the joyous bird songs were the accompaniment to everyone's run. We bumped into so many people we know from the running community.

It was one big party from Cleveland Circle down Beacon Street which just happens to be along the Boston Marathon route after the dreaded Heartbreak Hill. Whether runners were training for Boston or getting out to enjoy a run maintaining training for the next event, there was the spring in the step as Spring was in the air.

Our runner friends who we hadn't seen in awhile asked us about our trip and race to Bermuda. There's such a special feeling being able to recap and regale a race with good friends. We bumped into a friend who we thought might have had an injury. We hadn't seen her running in the neighborhood (she runs in all kinds of weather) and then saw her running at a slower pace. She stopped to chat with us and shared with us that yes in fact she was injured but she's back now. She wanted to hear all about the adventures of Team McManus in Bermuda.

One runner stopped me and asked me if I could help him schedule an appointment at Spratt Muscular Therapies. He had the same injury that his friend had who came to our practice and was able to run her Ultra and then came in for a recovery massage. I love mixing pleasure with business!

Tom and I had a great 5 mile run. One of our friend's had finished up her run but joined us for part of our run which was on the route to her going home.

What a joy that the warmer weather brought so many of our friends out on a Saturday morning to get their run on.

I'm working on my pace as we get ready for two 5K races coming up in April and May. I want to maintain my 5 mile distance while working on speed because next February Team McManus takes on the 40th Anniversary of the Hyannis Marathon Weekend. Oooh interestingly enough we will be celebrating our 40th Anniversary on 3/4th of next year.

I am so grateful and blessed that I can reclaim my advantage and reclaim my life at the age of 63 years old in the wake of having experienced paralytic polio and severe childhood trauma.

I am so grateful for the gift of running and the icing on the cake on last Saturday's run was that our run was so much more!

To your health and wellness!

Friday, March 17, 2017

Reclaim Advantage! Reclaim Life! They said "No way!" I said "Watch me!"

In yesterday's blog post I talked about reclaiming my Spirit. I made reference to Eddie the Eagle who was told by everyone that he would never make it to the Olympics. I can't wait to watch the movie this weekend!

From the time I was 5 years old, I was receiving negative, rejecting messages from all around me. The people who were supposed to take care of me were hoping that I would die from the polio virus. Starting at the age of 8, unthinkable acts were perpetrated upon me. "You tell anyone and I'll kill you."

It is, as my partner in healing Jeffrey Spratt,MT so often says, a miracle that I made it through and that now I am just hitting my prime at age 63.

I did, however, have a moment of redemption in gym class. My nickname was Easy Out Alper (my maiden name). I was always the last pick. During kickball everyone moved in from the outfield taunting with Easy Out Alper. One day, it was a very movie like moment...after everyone moved in from the outfield, I connected with the ball. went into the outfield only there was no one there to make the play so I scored a home run limping triumphantly around the bases!

Ten years ago I was given the diagnosis of Post-Polio Syndrome, a progressive neuromuscular disease. No way should you even attempt to run. If you use it you will lose it. Something inside of me was literally and metaphorically burning to move. I couldn't accept what the doctors were telling me although I had no idea how I was going to get out of a toe up leg brace:

to the finish line of the 2009 Boston Marathon.

All I said was "Watch me!"

Rewind to December 2014. An MRI showed degenerative changes in my knee joint from osteoarthritis and reconstructive leg surgery, bone spurs, a fatty lipoma and an atrophied gastroc muscle. No way should you run again - well we told you to not run in the first place. Come into the Post Polio Clinic again for a reevaluation. Let's see what we can do because you know this isn't going to get any better. The gastroc muscle is gone. We know that's what happens after polio. There's nothing you can do about it and that's why you have to be so careful. But I know you're gonna do what you're gonna do but just don't run any farther than 5 miles.

Okay I said for about a New York minute. I was about to affirmatively respond to the "No way" message until the Universe made it abundantly clear to me that this was not the path for me! A physical therapist from hell and a whole "Team" of people telling me no way. You're going to hurt yourself. You need a knee replacement. Cautionary tales and cautionary messages from even the massage therapist I was working with at the time.

Yes I was injured. I was not cross training and I was pushing myself way too hard. I did 9 races in 9 months. I wrote poetry with even greater fervor and as I look back on all the poems I wrote, I was conjuring up healers who would help me to go the distance in my healing journey liberated from the shackles of paralytic polio and trauma AND the beliefs that were embedded in the very fiber of my body and being.

I asked how would I ever reclaim my life and yearning to run unencumbered and free!

Yes Jeffrey it IS a miracle that I made it through but the miracle is that I met you. While once I had nay sayers at every turn and had to say "Watch me!" you asked me with great confidence "What leg are we rehabbing." You do epic stuff like Spartan Races and Sprint Triathlons that inspire me and got so excited when I told you that I was going to train for another Half Marathon and were with me every mile of the way. And then when I told you we were going to go back to Bermuda in 2017 you went on to celebrate that I was training for and would run my second CONSECUTIVE Half Marathon making sure I put the emphasis on CONSECUTIVE in all capital letters. And now I am laying the ground work to run my 2018 Half Marathon in Portland Maine.

Rather than having to say "Watch me!", you are telling me at every turn how I inspire you and you support and encourage all of my goals to heal the effects of paralytic polio and trauma. Now you watch me and Divine Love flows through you as every week we relieve the stress and tension of working full time, training 5 days a week and continuing to heal the once devastating effects of trauma.

It took great courage and strength to stand up to those who wanted to destroy me; to those who had limiting beliefs about what is possible. But through the power of my imagination, my strong faith, my pen - my Divining rod for healing and having been touched by grace I have been able to reclaim my advantage and reclaim my life. Jeffrey says, "Way" at every turn and I say to the world Watch me now!

To your health and wellness,

Be sure to vote for Spratt Muscular Therapies in the FedEx Small Business Grant Contest by following this link.

My latest book, 'Going the Distance: The Power of Endurance' is available on Amazon chronicling my journey to health and wellness as a survivor of paralytic polio and trauma and a woman who refused to quit!

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Reclaim Advantage! Reclaim Life! On Champions and Heroes - Reclaiming my Spirit!

During yesterday's powerful and transformational massage therapy session with Jeffrey Spratt,MT he told me about the movie, "Eddie the Eagle."

He told me that I was his Olympic champion. He also tells me that I am his hero. Jeffrey knows how much I struggle and work so hard to overcome the effects of paralytic polio and horrific child/adolescent abuse that followed for 9 years. Since partnering with Jeffrey in April of 2015, I am able to experience the struggle without a relapse of what was often times debilitating fatigue and pain, and without injury. I am able to work out and train 5 days a week. He knows the pain I still endure but that it's manageable thanks to his trail blazing Spratt Method of Muscular Therapy and compassionate presence. He acknowledges and tells me he is in awe of my indomitable Spirit.

Although Eddie the Eagle finished last in both of his events in the 1988 Winter Olympics, he was the embodiment of the Olympic spirit.

Jeffrey also knew the story of when I was 8 years old at Badger Day Camp. At the end of the summer, Badger held its own Olympics for campers. One of my counselors dear departed Dr. Joe Stetz, who gave up his Olympic dream to become a physician asked me to compete in the Butterfly. I thought he was crazy but he knew exactly what he was doing. He was helping me to cultivate the heart of a champion.

Like Eddie the Eagle, I spent several years in a leg brace after contracting paralytic polio. I knew what it was like to be written off and not given a chance. I too love proving people wrong as I'll be writing about in tomorrow's blog.

Jeffrey and I talked about Wilma Rudolph, polio survivor and Olympic Gold Medalist. Through the power of positive touch with daily massage from her mother and her siblings, and the collective consciousness of her family to help her heal from the devastating effects of paralytic polio, she came out of the leg brace, went on to play basketball and run Track in the off season. In 1960, she became the first American woman to win three gold medals in track and field at a single Olympics.

After I ran the Boston Marathon, people were posting on Facebook and sending me emails that I was their hero. I remember blogging about how I was a reluctant hero not quite understanding the impact that my Boston Marathon run had on people.

Now I do!

In yesterday's massage therapy session, as Jeffrey worked to untangle and bring relief to areas that were tight as a result of my working full time, training 5 days a week and still unearthing and healing the fossilized traumatic memories, I got in touch with how horrible, ugly and unworthy I felt in the face of my parents' betrayal of me. As I cried from the depths of my soul, Jeffrey brought his skilled and caring touch, his warm hands and compassion to help me heal these wounds and unearth the treasure of my Being. My grandmother who tortured me with rituals told me that self praise stinks. Well like so much of what she tried to indoctrinate me with, she was way off base! We need and deserve to celebrate ourselves especially when we triumph over what seems to be insurmountable odds.

As the tears dry and the pain recedes, I am able to, at last, reclaim my advantage, reclaim my life, reclaim my Spirit and celebrate the amazing person I am.

To your health and wellness!

My latest book, 'Going the Distance: The Power of Endurance' is available on Amazon chronicling my journey to health and wellness as a survivor of paralytic polio and trauma and a woman who refused to quit!

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Reclaim Advantage! Reclaim Life! On Patience and Reclaiming Beauty!

It's been two years since my beloved chiropractor healer, Dr. Ryan taught me about the proper form for squats and about using the support of the wall. It was shortly after a serious knee injury in December of 2014 when a physiatrist, physical therapists and even the massage therapist I was working with at the time told me that I shouldn't/wouldn't/couldn't run again. Oh but if I did it should be no more than a 5 miler. "We told you shouldn't have been running in the first place, but it's your life and you're gonna do what you're gonna do....Why don't you schedule appointments again at the Post-Polio Clinic and let's see how we can help you....Yes you're gastroc muscle is atrophied. We know that. It's been that way since you had polio. There's nothing you can do about that."

Oh really?

Dr. Ryan turned me onto the work of Dr. Joe Dispenza. I poured over "You Are the Placebo." Dr. Ryan taped my calf to stimulate the growth of new muscle. He recommended gastroc muscle strengthening exercises. At first I could not go up and down on my toes on my left leg - the leg most affected by the polio virus. We used the concept of mirror neurons; stimulating the connection of my left leg by "watching" the right leg move up and down on my toes while stimulating the connection of going up and down on my toes with both legs. Little by little, with patience, and through the incredible power of positive quality touch by partnering with Jeffrey Spratt,MT, pioneer of the Spratt Method of Muscular Therapy we have grown a new gastroc muscle! I continue to practice gastroc muscle strengthening exercises both on land and in the pool.

This past Sunday while strength training on land - a milestone in and of itself because for years I wasn't able to strength train on land due to the effects of childhood/adolescent trauma and paralytic polio - I was able to do 25 squats away from the wall. It just happened. My body was ready and everything fired up to make that happen.

Perhaps one of my greatest challenges in healing the effects of paralytic polio and trauma has been reclaiming my beauty. The woman who gave birth to me and the woman who gave birth to her had this twisted and convoluted view of beauty. In all fairness, part of that was cultural back in the 60's but where things went terribly awry was their reaction to me after contracting paralytic polio.

I was a beautiful ballerina with long shiny hair. I was graceful and loved being in my body.

Imagine if you will the story from "A Chorus Line" - "At the Ballet"

My ballet teacher, Miss Patricia was my role model for beauty and grace.

After disaster struck with contracting paralytic polio, I felt ugly and despised my body. They carted me off to the hairdresser to get my hair cut off because long hair was too much trouble to take care of. As if that were not enough to leave me feeling ugly, physical, sexual and emotional abuse began when I was 8 years old, just 3 years after contracting paralytic polio and continued until I was 17.

On April 19, 2015, I met the man who would help me reclaim my beauty through the power of positive, quality, innovative touch.

Week after week we go through the layers of memories that can now be recalled with Jeffrey's compassionate presence and his warm, skilled touch. My body heals. My heart heals and my soul rejoices that I'm safe now. I made it through.

I have to continue to practice patience as my body continues to heal from the ravages of paralytic polio and violence. The pain I experience is the pain of healing; the soreness a sign of strength.

I reclaim my beauty that reflects the incredible resilience of my Spirit and the Love in my heart; beauty in the wrinkles and the silver in my hair that reflect the passage of time.

I celebrate all of my successes and gains in these past 2 years and the incredible journey of transformation and I adopt the pace of Mother Nature as I continue to challenge myself and heal the wounds of a war torn youth.

To your health and wellness,

My latest book, 'Going the Distance: The Power of Endurance' is available on Amazon chronicling my journey to health and wellness as a survivor of paralytic polio and trauma and a woman who refused to quit!

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Reclaim Advantage! Reclaim Life! Reclaim Muscle Power! Celebrating Success!

Yesterday Jeffrey Spratt, MT and I were blessed to be part of Dr. Kansra's Walk with a Doc at St. Vincent's Hospital in Worcester. Dr. Kansra posted this on Facebook, "Over the last 2 years Jeffrey worked with Mary and session after grueling session Mary regained her muscle power."


Last summer, Jeffrey and I did a healing ceremony at Castle Island. During the ceremony in which we called in all 4 of the elements, Jeffrey led me through Rejuvenation Exercise as part of the earth element. One of the exercises he used was one that strengthens biceps and triceps. At the time I was unable to organize neurologically to do the exercise. Jeffrey guided my arms through the exercise providing education about the muscles we were firing up with the exercise.

Jeffrey used that exercise yesterday. Everything was neurologically organized to allow me to follow the exercise and feel the burn.

Sunday is my day to strength train. Two years ago Dr. Ryan Means aka Dr. Ryan, a chiropractor and healer was an earth angel sent to me after my knee injury of December 2014. After a physical therapist from hell asked me how come I couldn't squat, Dr. Ryan showed me the proper way to squat and suggested that I use the wall until I had the proprioception and muscle power to do a squat away from the wall. Little by little I've been moving away from the wall and today - boom! It happened - 25 squats away from the wall. It took incredible effort and energy and I cried after they were done. They were tears of effort, gratitude and a sense of triumph!

After contracting paralytic polio I never had the chance to build strength. I was blessed and oh so fortunate that I came out of my leg brace and was able to walk again albeit with a limp but for my body to completely heal, I needed a loving, nurturing environment. Unfortunately the family that I was born into was anything but loving and nurturing. On top of the paralytic polio, I had to endure 9 years of unrelenting horror against myself mind, body and soul.

With the Spratt Method of Muscular Therapy, Jeffrey's compassionate presence and being what I like to call a Battle Buddy, we are clearing out the emotional and physical debris from the battlefield of my past. Having all that gunk out of my system, I am able to work out and strength train and physically, emotionally and spiritually transform from the girl and adolescent and woman who endured and embodied the effects of paralytic polio and trauma to a woman who is now reclaiming muscle power and celebrating success!

To your health and wellness,

My latest book, 'Going the Distance: The Power of Endurance' is available on Amazon chronicling my journey to health and wellness as a survivor of paralytic polio and trauma and a woman who refused to quit!

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Reclaim Advantage! Reclaim Life! Walk with a Doc - Educate.Exercise.Empower

"Motivating people to take charge of their own health brings such joy and the best part is getting to partner with patients in their Journey. The power to heal lies within us." - Dr. Nandana Kansra, "Walk with a Doc" program director at St. Vincent's Hospital Worcester, MA

Ever since I chose a path other than the ones the doctors predicted for me after being diagnosed with Post-Polio Syndrome, a progressive neuromuscular disease by Western Medicine standards, I wanted to find a way to share my message of healing, hope and possibility with the medical community. The Post-Polio community did not want to hear from me. Doctors and polio survivors alike turned a deaf ear to my story. As I look back on it, the timing wasn't right. There was more of the story to be told. My healing would have to pass the test of time.

Before partnering with Jeffrey Spratt,MT my healing did not stand up to the test of time. There were setbacks and injuries. I love Dr. Kansra's quote: "Mary is Jeffrey's work partner and she is a hero in her own right. Mary was diagnosed with paralytic polio at the age of 5 and lost the use of her leg. Over the last 2 years Jeffrey worked with Mary and session after grueling session Mary regained her muscle power." So eloquently stated!

Jeffrey presents his Rejuvenation Exercise to the Harvard Medical School's Updates in Internal Medicine Course every year. Last December, Dr. Kansra was enthralled with Jeffrey, the Rejuvenation Exercise and the work he is doing.

She invited Jeffrey and me to her Saturday "Walk With a Doc" session. I was able to share my healing journey and how, since partnering with Jeffrey I am able to go the distance. It is always such a blessing for me to share my journey and inspire others with my determination and endurance.

Before we walked, Jeffrey did his Rejuvenation Exercise:

The Rejuvenation Exercise energized the body and warmed up the muscles in preparation for an hour walk around the Atrium.

Everyone walks at their own pace. It's group therapy and medicine at its finest!

I was blessed to hear stories and share my story and also share the work that Jeffrey does.

Jeffrey loves being a teacher. His philosophy of his work is that knowledge is power. He teaches clients about what is going on in their bodies, how he works with them to help the body heal and prescribes self care to supplement the work he does in the office.

One of the walkers called Jeffrey, "A Muscle Whisperer."

I would have to agree!

After the walk, Dr. Kansra had me speak a little bit more about my book, Going the Distance: The Power of Endurance:

We said our goodbyes to the walkers and expressed mutual admiration and appreciation for each other and our journeys.

We took this photo before heading out to brunch:

We broke bread together and talked about how we happened to arrive in that moment as individuals and how the Universe brought us together. Nandana believes in lifestyle medicine taking a holistic approach to helping her patients toward wellness. Her journey to becoming a doctor was captivating. Jeffrey shared his connecting the dots story and how he landed at this moment in his life and we were all in awe of how this year Nandana was drawn to Jeffrey and his Rejuvenation Exercise even though she'd been at IMED in years past. I was able to answer her questions about my journey with polio and I let her know that she was an answer to my be able to share my journey within the model of Western Medicine.

Education. Exercise. Empowerment. Taking responsibility for health and healing. Reclaiming advantage and reclaiming life.

Walk with a Doc - a sacred, blessed morning and the beginning of things to come!

To your health and wellness,