Monday, July 25, 2016

Going the Distance: The Satisfaction of a Great Run-"I couldn't kick a ball..."

It's a most remarkable feeling to experience the satisfaction of a great run. I believe this to be true for anyone but for me who came to the sport late in life (age 53) and who never experienced the joy of athletic endeavors as a result of contracting paralytic polio at the age of 5 followed by 9 years of unrelenting violence that did not give my body a chance to heal from the effects of paralytic polio, that feeling of satisfaction is intensified.

Shortly after being diagnosed with post polio syndrome and being told I had a progressive neuromuscular disease, I got still and asked for Divine Guidance.

Here is the poem that flowed out of me with an introduction about what inspired the poem 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.

I couldn't kick a ball but my grades were always good....I had the nickname "Easy Out Alper" (my maiden name). I bore the brunt of taunts and teasing that left deep emotional scars and feeling ashamed of my body and my Being.

But running changed all of that...

So you can well imagine when, in December of 2014 I was told I needed a total knee replacement and should not, could not and would not run anymore given the appearances on MRI of torn meniscus beyond repair, a fatty lipoma, bone spurs and an atrophied gastroc muscle I was devastated.... If I did run I had to set the limit at a 5K or maybe a 5 miler at most and I was once again given a cautionary tale about post polio syndrome....and then I got pissed and once again turned to the Universe for help.

I fired everyone who was a naysayer and lo and behold the Universe delivered to me a chiropractor, Ryan Means, DC and he reminded me to set goals not limits and of my body's enormous capacity to heal.

Dr. Ryan joined with my powerful intention to go the distance in my healing journey and transform from a disabled survivor of paralytic polio and trauma to a runner and athlete.

When I woke up sore this morning and felt my calves and gluteus muscles that served me well on that steep hill at mile 1.86 and my quads were still singing to me letting me know I worked them hard; when I woke up this morning knowing I had run the entire course stopping to walk only to make sure I had adequate hydration on a hot and humid morning, I also woke up to that sense of satisfaction deep in my soul that only a great run in a great race can bring. I felt more healing, more strength and more confidence in my body's ability to heal and go the distance. I felt that sense of utter perfection in my Being.

To your health and wellness,

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