After writing the poem, "Running the Race," I knew that I wanted and needed to 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.
but I was in a short leg brace, using a wheelchair at times for mobility and was told by a Western medicine rehabilitation doctor that I faced an uncertain future; one which at best would stabilize the symptoms where they were in February of 2007 when I wrote this poem; at worse, I would need to adapt our Cape house and be prepared for a life in a wheelchair.
I had other ideas as expressed in that first poem and in the poems that came flowing out of me imagining myself as healthy, whole, running free with the wind....
I decided to watch the Run Forrest Run scene from Forrest Gump over and over and over again:
It sure helped to inspire me to get running. I ran the 2009 Boston Marathon and then took a break from running. I started running again in June 2010 and had a great run of races and PR's and feeling at the top of my game. March 2011 with my nephew's suicide, I ran right off of my healing path.
I returned to the roads after 4/15/13 ... I had a great run of 9 races in 9 months with two PR's but was an injury waiting to happen without cross training and without partnering with a great muscular therapist.
It wasn't until I came to Jeffrey Spratt, MT's table who is the Principal and Owner of Spratt Muscular Therapies that someone set the intention for me "I want you to run unencumbered." His tag line of Reclaim Life Reclaim Advantage is more than a tag line. It's his commitment to have every client leave his table feeling much better than when they got on the table and to have those results translated into our daily lives. He is truly the best of Boston when it comes to massage and muscular therapy. Believe me I know!
This morning Tom and I did our plank, crunches and clams and our morning meditation. In my meditation I observed the anxiety and discomfort and terror I felt growing up. I used to project those feelings onto some present day issue but this morning I was able to put those feelings right where they belonged: in the past. I breathed. I felt Tom's breathing next to me and felt the joy - the absolute joy of being alive and having survived paralytic polio and 9 years of violence and terror. I stated my gratitudes and affirmations.
We headed out for our run and it was a very Forrest Gump type of run. I'd been writing in my training journal: long range goal of a 12:00 minute mile with an intermediate goal of a 14:00 minute mile for speed work.
There was a person walking at a very fast pace far in front of us. I sped up my pace to try to pass him. Tom checked my pace - 12:32 ... he sped up and got away but not before I felt the thrill of running fast again! I felt free, determined, courageous and unlimited in what I am capable of doing. I felt invincible. My overall pace and time was 43 seconds off of my 5K PR one year ago yesterday with an average pace of 14:26 including a huge hill at the end of our run.
The other day my wonderful friends at Blue Diamond Athletic Displays posted a display for Triathletes. I tagged one of my dear FB friends, Nicole and she posted this picture of a medal display her nephew made for her:
And then my friends at Blue Diamond Athletic Displays posted this:
A must have for our 2nd display!
And I plan on filling it to the brim with our medals...because from this day on...if I am going somewhere...I am running!
I chronicle the first 7 years of my healing journey after being diagnosed with post polio syndrome, a progressive neuromuscular disease as a survivor of childhood paralytic polio and 9 years of childhood domestic violence in Coming Home:A Memoir of Healing, Hope and Possibility.
In Journey Well, the journey continues in the wake of my nephew's suicide on 3/4/11 and the events of 4/15/13. Through my journey of healing and transformation, we learn that no matter what life circumstances happen to us, we can always find a way to journey well.
"Feel the Heal: An Anthology of Poems," my latest collection of inspirational poetry is now available soon on Amazon