Nine years ago on a cold dark February day as I experienced my mind, body and Spirit crying out for healing in the guise of post polio syndrome, "a progressive neuromuscular disease," I got still and asked for Divine Guidance. I was told to prepare to spend the rest of my life in a wheelchair; that the "best" we could hope for was to stabilize my functioning where it was.
The answer to my prayer came in the form of a poem in the cadence of Dr. Seuss; a throw back to when my physical therapist Miss Holly read Dr. Seuss to me before every painful physical therapy session after contracting paralytic polio and had me recite the lines in tandem with her as she coaxed my muscles and nerves to function again.
From my memoir, "Coming Home: A Memoir of Healing, Hope and Possibility," available on Amazon
And then I felt a stirring in my second chakra (only then I didn’t know it was my second chakra – I thought it might have been something I ate). I went over to my laptop in the corner of the living room and I wrote this poem foreshadowing 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.
I now realize that all of the venom, violence and vile I absorbed from my family got stuck in my mind, my body and my heart. It's like trying to keep a car running with gunky transmission fluid.
Until I met Jeffrey Spratt, MT, Owner and Principal of Spratt Muscular Therapies I had no way of clearing out all that gunk. I tried so many massage therapists and healers but no one could help me get the job done to go the distance in my life and on the roads; to reclaim my advantage and reclaim my life after all I endured. I am no longer afraid to experience all the traumatic memories in my body so they can heal. During this morning's meditation I became aware of a pattern of holding in response to paralytic polio and violence and I released it so that energy and healing tears can now flow to heal everything that went before!
Yesterday I was so blessed to watch Jeffrey work providing chair massage to members of Second Wave at John Hancock. It's the satellite health and fitness club of Wave Health where Spratt Muscular Therapies is based. As members waited their turn for their time in the chair or after their massage, I was able to talk with them about the Spratt Method of Muscular Therapy and Jeffrey's unique offering of The ShakeOut.
Watching Jeffrey work with everyone - from those training for Boston, to a woman working to reclaim her health and wellness in 2016 to a runner recovering from a stress fracture and John Hancock employees wanting to relieve stress I was in awe of his passion and his dedication as a member of the profession of massage therapy. I was there to represent the healing and transformative power of positive touch when it is in the right hands!
Jeffrey provided education to everyone in the chair about how he works, the benefits of at least a monthly ShakeOut massage, stretches and running healthy to those training for Boston and compassion and care to everyone he touched. I loved the analogies he uses about the work and how he blends the art and science of muscular therapy using his pioneering recipe of the Spratt Method.
Nine years ago I was sidelined facing a rather grim and uncertain future according to Western medical science with the diagnosis of post polio syndrome and it's been an incredible healing odyssey. One year ago I was on the sidelines with a knee injury the result of not cross training, not taking enough rest and recovery time between races and working with a massage therapist who not only did not know how work with a runner but went on to set the intention of "Right now your right leg is leading the dance and I'm waiting for your left leg to speak to me." I'm so grateful for the knee injury and all that I learned from working with that massage therapist because it led me to this moment now in my life! I am off the sidelines and right smack in the middle of my glorious life!
One week from today I board a plane for Bermuda; my first trip in 8 years and instead of a wheelchair waiting for me on the tarmac, wearing these shoes that I wore the last time I was in Bermuda:
I'll be bounding down the stairs in my Altra running shoes
enjoying the countdown to when Team McManus toes the starting line of the Bermuda Half Marathon.