Friday, May 12, 2017

Going the Distance: Celebrating 10 years of healing: I had a plan....

With a few years to go until I could retire from my award winning career as a VA social worker, I had a plan.

I was going to work at Bloomingdale's or at some frivolous and fun job enjoying the later years of my life being a lady of leisure meeting girlfriends for lunch and basking in the glow of a highly successful career at the VA.

Rewind to the summer of 2006 when, symptoms I'd been experiencing on and off for several years screamed at me to pay attention to what was happening in my body. As a survivor of paralytic polio and severe childhood trauma, I'd mastered the art of dissociation. While the ability to tune out from what was happening in my body helped me to survive acts of unthinkable torture, I paid a steep price.

In December of 2006, I was diagnosed with Post-Polio Syndrome, a progressive neuromuscular disease by Western Medicine Standards. How would I ever find my way back from being in a totally deconditioned physical state and experiencing severe mental and spiritual distress.

As I did whenever life threw a challenge my way, I finally stopped and got still asking for Divine Guidance.

I had to initially surrender to what was happening to me and briefly did what the team at Spaulding Rehab's International Rehab Center for Polio told me to do while feverishly writing poetry visualizing myself running a race, feeling free in my body and expressing gratitude for the gifts of these challenges.

On May 25th, 2007, I turned in my keys and went through the process of clearing out from the Boston VA Healthcare system. My heart was heavy as I left my career as a social worker behind me. The sun was shining, the weather was warm and I sat on my lawn wondering wondering what would be next?!

As I sat in my leg brace feeling better than I had in awhile now that the stress of work was gone and I'd been through intensive outpatient rehab at Spaulding, I could never have imagined that I would be a 2009 Boston Marathon finisher:

Or that my story would inspire so many ...

I was called a hero and was moved to write this blog about celebrating the hero within.

I've come to learn that this journey is not just about's about sharing my story of healing the effects of paralytic polio and trauma; coming back after my nephew's suicide, the Boston Marathon bombings and then a very serious knee injury in December of 2014.

This ordinary hero wants to let others know what's talk about resilience and reclaiming one's life after so many blows....

Here I am --- ten years later -- celebrating healing, health, wellness, hope and possibility.

In tomorrow's blog, I'll be talking about what has kept me going during these past 10 years to keep moving forward and reclaiming my life in the wake of some of life's greatest challenges.

To going the distance with strength and courage!

Be sure to visit my website by following this link.

My books are available on Amazon.

Feel the Heal: An Anthology of Poems to Heal Your Life

Coming Home: A Memoir of Healing Hope and Possibility that chronicles the first 7 years of my healing journey:

And my latest and greatest book - Going the Distance: The Power of Endurance (With a Foreword by Jacqueline Hansen):

Mary McManus, MSW knew challenges since she was five years old beginning with contracting polio followed by enduring nine years of violence at the hands of family members. Those early challenges prepared her for taking on the challenge of the diagnosis of post polio syndrome, a progressive neuromuscular disease in December 2006 when she was at the height of her award winning career as a social worker at the Department of Veterans Affairs. Asking for Divine Guidance as she had throughout her trials and tribulations, she discovered the gift of poetry in her soul. Her first poem, “Running the Race,” foreshadowed her 2009 Boston Marathon run. “Going the Distance: The Power of Endurance,” chronicles Mary’s journey as a survivor of paralytic polio and trauma, as a runner and a woman who refused to quit. Eight years after her diagnosis, she was finally led to two healers, a chiropractor and a muscular therapist, who helped her reclaim her life and go the distance, a woman transformed who embodies the power of endurance.

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