This morning on Facebook one of my friend's posted about a recent visit she had with her doctor telling her about what would happen if she continued her endurance running. It was not a pretty picture to say the least. She is going for a second opinion and plans to run her scheduled marathon on 5/24. She was told that what is happening in her hip can't be healed or repaired and was admonished that if she continued with impact sports it will progressively get worse over time so that it's painful even at rest.
I get it ... I understand the view of many doctors practicing traditional Western medicine. I appreciated the advice of the physician who cared for me at the Spaulding Rehab Framingham Outpatient Clinic at the International Rehab Center for Polio who told me that I needed to preserve the muscles and nerves that were compromised by the initial polio virus and so if I use it, I lose it.
After my recent knee injury (which turned out to be a wake up call and a blessing to improve my training plan), I returned to him to get an MRI and a referral for physical therapy. Initially, I was going to hang up my running shoes and enjoy the role of advisor and supporter of those younger runners or older runners who did not have as much happen to their bodies as I did (25 surgeries and 9 years of violence as a child). I needed the MRI so that I could get a picture - a literal picture - of what was going on in my knee that I needed to heal through cross training, visualization and the very best that complementary therapies have to offer.
I was blessed beyond words when my physical therapist was horrible which opened the door for me to find my way to Dr. Ryan J. Means, Elevate Health Cambridge who reminded me of my body's incredible capacity to heal. He inspired me with his energy and infectious passion to help his patients elevate their health regardless of age or circumstance. He does personal training and leads boot camp workouts. He talks the talk and walks the walk and shares stories of transformation and healing when the people he partners with are willing to put in the work which of course I am. I can feel the changes happening in my body.
On MRI, I did not have a gastroc muscle on my left leg. It atrophied from polio BUT with gastroc strengthening exercises and weekly taping of the gastroc plus my own visualization and meditation, I can feel the muscle fire which is taking stress off of the knee joint.
I had 5 surgeries on my left leg and cutting muscles and nerves (not to mention the emotional and spiritual toll of having an epidural and being totally aware of what was happening during the surgery) that took a toll. But just the other day I felt my quad muscle fire. I am experiencing pain in my left leg but it is a good pain - a pain of nerves coming back to life. An area that was once numb and deadened from so much scar tissue now has feeling.
And while at times I am afraid that is the pain of the "injury" and degenerative arthritis and all the rest, I honor that fear, quickly dismiss it and remind myself that I am rehabbing my left leg (really for the first time in my life) and I am healing.
I am reading "You Are The Placebo" by Dr. Joe Dispenza and can feel the placebo effect of reading this book. It is turbocharging my own desire and ability to heal; those emotions cascade into my cells and create the changes in my body.
I have Mitchell May's interview on youtube cued up for me to watch.
Mitchell May is a healer and a teacher whose gifts are recognized worldwide. Told he would never walk again, Mitchell’s miraculous healing from a near-fatal car accident over 35 years ago (in which he sustained over 40 fractures, severed nerves, bone loss and severe internal injuries) made medical history when he regenerated nerve, bone, muscle and organ tissue and fully healed his body.
With the assistance of UCLA Medical Center parapsychology researcher and healer Jack Gray, Mitchell undertook an intensive and extraordinary healing journey that forever changed the meaning and focus of his life. He became Gray’s sole apprentice for seven years, learning the art and spirit of nontraditional healing.
Mitchell has since helped thousands in realizing their innate healing potential and rejuvenating their life force. His work is so exceptional that it has been documented and studied by medical researchers and featured in documentaries and periodicals. Mitchell’s miraculous work and story serve as a message of hope, inspiration and empowerment to people all around the world — that healing exists within us all.
In October of 2007, after being discharged from Spaulding Rehab Outpatient care, I hired a personal trainer. I came to the realization that pain is a part of life and that since I was going to experience pain, I may as well experience pain on the side of healing and possibility; of movement and health and wellness. I couldn't even complete the initial assessment due to my weak and deconditioned state but little by little I got stronger and realized I was not destined for a life in a wheelchair. Excerpted from Coming Home: A Memoir of Healing, Hope and Possibility):
Our first session after the assessment left me wondering, “What the hell did I do?” I was incredibly sore and couldn’t wait to get to into the pool at the Rosedon Hotel in Bermuda where we were going on my first I don’t have to go back to work ever vacation. While it all may sound incredibly liberating and wonderful, I was suffering in mind, body and Spirit. I was weak and deconditioned. I did not know it at the time but the unhealed trauma in my body and in my heart was draining my life force. I lived with chronic anxiety and a never-ending stream of mental chatter. But I was moving forward awkwardly finding my healing path.
Even though I received a message of caution from the post polio team about not overdoing it, something was literally and metaphorically burning inside of me. I knew that my body wanted and needed to do more.
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 couldn’t listen to the admonishment of if you use it you will lose it. 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.
I know that I have only begun to tap into my body's tremendous capacity for healing. I am blessed to partner with Dr. Ryan and Jeff Spratt of Spratt Muscular Therapies who believe in what I believe in; the body has the power to heal when we choose our beliefs wisely and surround ourselves with like hearted and like minded people feeding ourselves well mind, body and Spirit. I've begun training for another marathon. I can feel how the excitement, the anticipation, the love and support I am receiving, doing this to benefit others by running for the Arredondo Family Foundation stimulates my body's healing. I'll take it slow, steady and be mindful of my training but I know in every fiber of my being that I will go 26.2 miles next October.
I choose love over fear. Living life to the full over caution. I choose hope and I embrace the pain because it all hurts so good!
Be blessed. Journey well. To all good things....
My latest book, "Journey Well" is now available on Amazon along with all of my inspirational books. 50% of book proceeds are donated to the Massachusetts Resiliency Center, a safe, welcoming space for survivors of the Boston Marathon bombing to heal and stay in touch with one another; a virtual hub for a widely dispersed community whose lives have been impacted by the tragic events of April 15th and the events that followed.
When terror struck the world's oldest and most beloved marathon on April 15, 2013, it was a defining moment in Mary McManus’ life and the lives of all those in Boston and around the world. It was her wake up call to return to the sport and community that have been medicine and a lifeline for her throughout her marathon of healing the late effects of paralytic polio and experiencing 9 years of domestic violence as a child and adolescent. Mary captures the essence of Boston Strong through her experience of the 2014 Boston Marathon and as she profiles the people who are Boston Stronger. Through her blog posts, poems and journal entries woven together with excerpts from her memoir, “Coming Home: A Memoir of Healing, Hope and Possibility,” you will experience, through one woman’s journey of transformation and healing, that no matter what happens to us, we can all learn to journey well.