Eight years ago I was filling out a packet of information from Spaulding Rehab's International Rehab Center for Polio. I had a 45 minute phone conversation with Anna Rubin, the outreach and education coordinator for the Center who "just happened" to be covering the phones on the day I finally had the courage to call and take those painful, terrifying first steps on my healing journey. She sent me a copy of Julie Silver's book, "Post Polio Syndrome," and I realized that what I was experiencing had happened to other polio survivors. Mine was complicated by the impact that years of violence had also taken on my body. I did not have a chance to recover from paralytic polio when my father and grandmother began abusing me. What a blessing to now feel compassion for myself as I create this miracle of healing in my life.
I am so blessed that I am working with a mind/body therapist at Sollievo Massage and Bodywork to accelerate my miracle of healing and so grateful that I continue to work with a team at Spaulding to create more miracles and open the door to possibility and adventures.
But back then, I was withering away mind, body and Spirit.
Difficulty breathing and swallowing? Check. I felt as though I always had a lump in my throat. That's because I did and it was called food pooling. I did not have enough strength on the left side of my esophagus to push the food into my stomach. After working with a speech and language therapist and with the miracle of healing in my life, I can swallow and breathe again. I do have to be mindful when I eat to take small bites, chew and eat slowly because food can go down the wrong way if I am not careful.
Fatigue - check, check and double check. That was one of the worst symptoms I experienced. It wasn't feeling tired after a good workout or being busy. It was a fatigue like I never feel rested, energized and refreshed. Now I have a mantra, "I have all the energy I need to do the things I need and want to do." I do have to be mindful of my schedule and remember that I do live with a spinal cord injury - that is healing but there nonetheless - and so because life is a marathon, not a sprint - I pace myself through my days and weeks. If I need to rest and nap I do but I can feel that I have more energy and am able to sustain my energy throughout the day. I make sure I get plenty of sleep.
Pain - everywhere. I did not have full range of motion in my cervical spine. My joints ached. My teeth ached (which was a result of a nerve pressing on a disc in my cervical spine). I felt trapped in my body. I am transformed from a body wracked with pain to a woman who feels vibrant, whole and free in my body. Oh sure I experience pain at times but I mostly experience muscle soreness as I build strength. In my mind/body treatments, we focus on moving and balancing the energy. I experience the healing waters of Aquatics Therapy at Spaulding each week which eases pain.
Depression - Despite seeming like I had it all, at the height of my award winning career as a VA social worker, living in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts and a wonderful family, inside I did not care whether or not I woke up the next morning. I was sick and tired of feeling sick and tired and anxious. Wonder of wonders, miracles of miracles (singing from Fiddler on the Roof), God took this child by the hand and with helpers seen and unseen, I turned my life around. I hope I have another 30 years to run, to live, to enjoy the gift of being alive.
Eight years ago - if you would have told me that I would have run the 2009 Boston Marathon, published books, write a blog, be a guest on The Jordan Rich Show and now being asked to be a motivational speaker, am learning how to ride a bike, be embraced by the community of runners, feel healthy and whole in spite of or maybe because of everything that's happened to me, I would have told you that you are out of your mind. But here I am - eight years later - reflecting on and feeling so deeply grateful for the miracle of healing I have been able to create in my life.
The first 7 years of my healing odyssey are chronicled in Coming Home: A Memoir of Healing, Hope and Possibility available on Amazon. I donate 50% of royalty payments to The One Fund Boston to help survivors and their families who were affected by the tragic events of 4/15/13.
I'm working on my 2nd book, "Journey Well," due out later this year: