From "Feel the Heal: An Anthology of Poems to Heal Your Life":
It was a cold, dark day in February 2007. I sat in a leg brace, using a wheelchair at times for mobility. I faced a grim and uncertain future as the doctors handed down the decree of the diagnosis of post polio syndrome, a progressive neuromuscular disease. They told me that if I had any hope of stabilizing the disease where it was, I would have to quit my full time award-winning career as a VA social worker three years shy of when I was eligible for retirement. It was a no brainer. I knew I had to take a leap of faith and leave my career. But what’s a social worker to do after almost 25 years? She opens her heart to the cadence of Dr. Seuss that brought her so much comfort during the painful physical therapy sessions as she recovered from paralytic polio. This is the first poem I penned. Bear in mind, I had never run a day in my life.
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, 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, alone and afraid tried 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.
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.
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.
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.
Writing this poem foreshadowed my running of the 2009 Boston Marathon!
Running the race - the 2009 Boston Marathon-coming down Commonwealth Avenue toward the finish:
Feel the heal!
I am delighted to be able to share my healing odyssey and my gift of poetry with you in this latest anthology of my poems. You can purchase your copies along with "Coming Home: A Memoir of Healing, Hope and Possibility," and "Journey Well" on Amazon. I have already started writing poems for "Feel the Heal: An Anthology of Poems to Heal Your Life Volume II", and "Going the Distance" which chronicles these latest miles on my marathon of healing from my knee injury last December to when I cross the finish lines of the Bermuda Half Marathon in January 2016 and the Newport Marathon in October.
Cheers! To Life! Feel the heal and let us all love ourselves well!