Did you ever have a moment when words fell out of your mouth before you had time to process what you just said and you knew once they were out of your mouth you couldn't take them back? Well of course you could but I knew I couldn't. I knew that something was burning deep in my soul to dare to try something I'd never done before - to run - and not to go out for a little jog mind you but to take on the 2009 Boston Marathon.
From my memoir, "Coming Home:A Memoir of Healing, Hope and Possibility"...After being discharged from outpatient care at Spaulding Rehab Hospital, I hired a personal trainer to see if we could build on the work that was begun at Spaulding.
"After our session, I felt muscles I had no idea existed in my body. I remember barely being able to get up after our plane landed. Despite the pain, I knew that I was on the right path. I decided that if I were going to hurt, I may as well hurt on the side of getting healthy. I had to believe in my body’s capacity for healing. I had to have faith. As I went through the rigors of personal training, there were moments of incredible doubt. During those times, Janine held enough faith for the two of us.
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 door knob.
“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 non-plussed. 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.
What had I just done?"
The Development Team at Spaulding suggested that this year's Race for Rehab team and alumni make a video about why they ran and to support the 2015 Race for Rehab team:
They say the person who finishes a marathon is not the same person who started a marathon. During those 14 months of training I dug deep mind, body and Spirit to go the distance on the roads and with fundraising. I left so much of my story out on the roads and when I crossed that finish line it was indeed a moment of redemption. It was a moment that was not just for me though. I took incredible satisfaction knowing that we had raised $10,535 for Spaulding Rehab where I took those first, frightening and overwhelming steps on my journey in December of 2006 when I had no idea what my future held for me - if I had a future.
From my memoir:
The buzzing hum from the fluorescent lights echoed the buzzing in my nervous system. I sat waiting for my first appointment at the post polio clinic at the IRCP. My complexion was as white as the paper that covered the exam table. I felt as fragile and vulnerable as that piece of paper that gets ripped off and tossed away after the exam. Every inch of my body hurt. I was exhausted. I was sick and tired of feeling sick and tired. I hadn’t really cared whether or not I woke up in the morning but I had a husband and twins that needed me. Ironically enough I was at the peak of my career as a VA social worker. I couldn’t sleep. I felt depressed. My award-winning career as a social worker at the Department of Veterans Affairs no longer fueled my soul. Somewhere deep inside of me there was a feeling that there had to be a way out of the hell I was living in.
Experiencing the compassion and care from my team at Spaulding, I felt a glimmer of hope...and in February of 2007 as I sat in a leg brace, using a wheelchair at times for mobility, I got still and this poem flowed out of me which foreshadowed my 2009 Boston Marathon run:
Running the Race
Early summer 1959 my kindergarten year
everyone around me filled with nervous fear
despite the Salk vaccine hope polio would disappear
the polio virus crept right up and knocked me in the rear.
Dancing all around the gym feeling free just like a bird
I dropped to the ground just like a stone and no one said a word.
The pain it was so searing-the diagnosis even worse
"It's polio" the doctor said...he was abrupt and terse.
Called one of the 'lucky ones' I had a 'mild case'
but with the other athletes I could never keep their pace.
Miss Holly physical therapist,curly hair and a warm, broad smile
It tempered the pain of being apart - to walk I'd take awhile.
I always wore those 'special' shoes the kids they poked and teased
With no support and much abuse with childhood I wasn't pleased.
But put nose to the grindstone and learned all that I could
I couldn't kick a ball but my grades were always good.
Years went by and no more thought to polio did I give
I accepted the limp and everything else and decided my life I would live.
But symptoms of weakness and muscle pain did grow
I kept a stoic face hoping no one else would know.
Life no longer was my own I struggled through each day
suffered in silence, isolated from friends-trying to keep depression at bay.
And with the grace of glorious God my world it opened wide
I discovered there was a Post Polio team and they were on my side.
Using wheelchair to travel, set limits on what I could do,
resulted in joy to realize I could live life anew.
Celebrated my body- creaks, groans and need for a brace
while in my mind I focused on winning a 10K race.
Sought out paths for healing and my spirit flew free
for the first time in life, I could truly be me.
The chains are gone and possibilities abound
I'm a tree with my roots planted firmly in ground.
I'm now off the sidelines, no need to sit and whine
so much gratitude fills my heart and love and beauty shine.
After all these years I can join the loving human race
I exceed all expectations and now I set the pace.
You can support Spaulding's Race for Rehab team on their Crowdrise Fundraising page.
"Journey Well" and all of my inspirational books are available on Amazon.
"Journey Well" is a book about resilience, strength, courage and how we are able to journey well no matter what conditions life hands to us. I profile the people who are Boston Stronger and share how 4/15/13 was a wake up call to me to return to my healing path from contracting paralytic polio at age 5 and 9 years of domestic violence as a child and adolescent.