Thursday, March 30, 2017

Reclaim Advantage! Reclaim Life! On Pain, Patience, Practice and Process

I am incredibly blessed and grateful that two years ago I found my way to Dr. Ryan Means and Jeffrey Spratt,MT. Dr. Ryan is a chiropractor and a healer in every sense of the word. When he practiced in Cambridge, MA, he had Thomas Edison's quote on his website. Rather than focusing on fixing me, he partnered with me to help me unleash my body's natural capacity to heal. During his training, he heard Candace Pert, Ph.D. speak which led him to go "Down the Rabbit Hole" exploring the world of quantum healing. He told me I just HAD to read Dr. Joe Dispenza's book, "You Are the Placebo." While I was waiting for my copy to arrive, he sent me a photo from a page in Dr. Joe's book, "Changing the body by thought alone."

I was so excited to think and to believe that I could grow a new gastroc muscle, dissolve bone spurs, reverse osteoarthritis and heal the devastating effects of paralytic polio and trauma!

Shortly after meeting Dr. Ryan, I found my way to Jeffrey's table where he practices the Spratt Method of Muscular Therapy, an innovative method of muscular therapy that we discovered is powerful medicine for healing trauma and anything else that happens to be ailing me.

There are many people who email me or call me who see the results I am experiencing and much like that scene from "When Harry Met Sally" say, "I want what she's having."

They don't see the pain, the process, the patience or the effort of practicing new beliefs and new behaviors until the new habits become stronger than the old habits and beliefs.

In Candace Pert's book, "Everything you need to know to feel Go(o)d," another book recommendation by Dr. Ryan, she talks about how we interpret pain in our bodies. The way we perceive and interpret pain is the way that our bodies will respond to the pain. She talks about if a person is experiencing knee pain and they focus on the pain and believe that it's a recurrence of an injury, then the body responds as if in fact it is a recurrence of an injury. However, if the person believes that the injury is healing and the pain is a sign of healing then the body responds with doing what it needs to do in order to heal.

Early on in my work with Jeffrey, I told him how I don't focus on the pain in my left knee fearing that I will get injured again referencing a once very serious knee injury in December of 2014. It takes practice and persistence to create new beliefs and feel them deep inside so that the body responds with messages of healing. Jeffrey's response was to use an old house analogy (not that he was calling me old mind you).

"If you're in an old house that you haven't visited before, every little sound seems alarming to you. But as you get to know the sounds of the house you don't even pay attention and say, 'Oh that's just the furnace.'" We go on to say that we are making everything, "factory new" healed from the once devastating effects of paralytic polio and trauma through the power and magic of positive touch and compassionate presence.

I refer to the pains I experience in my body as "phantom pains." I used to experience a lot of phantom pain - pain that wasn't happening in the here and now that needed medical attention but pain that had been hard wired into my body as a result of polio, trauma and numerous surgeries. Running has been a game changer for me in alleviating those pains in my legs.

Recently I have been experiencing a lot of pain in my arms and upper body. As we unearth the traumatic memories, the body releases the physical pain of those memories to be healed. With care and tenderness, Jeffrey works his mojo partnering with me and my intention to heal to bring relief and restore mobility and neuromuscular functioning to my arms that were paralyzed, then pinned down repeatedly during childhood rape and then as a teenager were nearly wrenched out of their sockets during savage beatings.

I remind myself that I am safe, that I am free and that I have everything I need inside of me to heal however the pain may be manifesting itself. Jeffrey is so adept at knowing exactly what is needed to flush, to heal, to restore balance and to create new neuromuscular pathways; a new neural net. I practice embodying the person I imagine myself to be. I conjure up muscle memory from what seems like another lifetime when I was a graceful ballerina before polio and trauma happened to me. Jeffrey seeks out the restrictions and frees up the congestion from these old wounds with his trailblazing Spratt Method.

There are times when we need to seek out assistance from physicians but we also need to be mindful of the miracle of our bodies. Divine Intelligence created us and resides within us; a most powerful Force that helps us to ride the waves of pain, be patient as our bodies do what they do naturally to heal, believe in the power of the Force and practice becoming someone new and different from the memorized self.

To your health and wellness!

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Reclaim Advantage! Reclaim Life! No Mud - No Lotus! Reclaiming My Heart!

Do you know the story of The Lotus Flower?

The Story of the Magical Lotus Flower: The lotus flower is one of the most remarkable creations of nature. Its beauty lies in its purity, because this magnificent flower emerges from the dirty and muddy bottom of a pond, yet still remains untouched and unstained by its soiled surroundings.

This notable feat has ensured that the lotus is considered an embodiment of perfection in various Asian religions and cultures, with particular reference to Buddhism and Hinduism. This unique quality is said to symbolize the human who rises from the darkness of the world into a new way of thinking and living.

I've turned a corner in my healing journey. At the end of last Wednesday's massage therapy session with Jeffrey Spratt,MT with whom I have been working for the past two years to heal the effects of paralytic polio and severe childhood trauma, I said, "I feel like the lotus flower who is moving toward the light and experiencing a beautiful transformation." Jeffrey warmly smiled and said, "Congratulations. You made it through the session without needing tissues. Enjoy your post massage bliss."

Of course it was absolutely fine when I needed tissues and I had to take the time to express and attend to triggers while on the table. There was no way to rush the process. The Lotus Flower finds its way to the light and experiences transformation in its own way and its own time. Everyone's journey is in their own time.

After the intense physical and emotional releases during the past two weeks unearthing core memories that were vital to my trauma recovery, it was a blessing to be able to experience many moments of peace and tingles on the massage therapy table. When I did experience fear, I was able to experience and identify what I like to call "anticipatory terror"--a habitual response that was borne out of 9 years of violence against mind, body and soul. It's a terror that comes not so much from the actual event although that's pretty horrific but wondering what was going to happen next. And that's where we trauma survivors habitually get stuck. Jeffrey's powerful positive quality touch was able to help me reset after the release of the anticipatory terror response and I could let go and surrender taking deep breaths. All the weeks and months of Jeffrey telling me that, "It's over. You can let it all go. You're safe." are paying off big dividends. My courage to come out of the mud and go through the murkiness, the muck, the mire and horror of my past is paying big dividends.

As Jeffrey worked with my arms, which is an extension of our heart, I was able to declare that I wanted to reclaim my graceful ballerina arms. I got in touch with my sorrow about my parents, especially my father with whom I missed out on having a father/daughter relationship but perhaps even more important, how he missed out on having a relationship with his daughter! Jeffrey does beautiful heart chakra work and as he placed his warm hands over my heart making a heart shape with his hands, I was moved to take one hand out from underneath the sheet and place it on top of his. He put another hand on top of mine. We were still and breathed together. I was reclaiming my once broken heart.

I just want to note that the phrase "Great achievement has no road map," comes into play here. Jeffrey and I had no idea that his Spratt Method of Muscular Therapy was going to have such a powerful effect on my healing. We both trusted the process and through the power of positive touch and his compassionate presence, awareness and profound healing are created.

New neuromuscular connections are sprouting. Anxiety moves through more quickly and is so much easier to manage. I feel more joy, vitality and vibrancy than I ever have before. And like the lotus flower I move to the light radiating the Truth of my beauty and Being.

To your health and wellness,

My latest book, 'Going the Distance: The Power of Endurance' is available on Amazon chronicling my journey to health and wellness as a survivor of paralytic polio and trauma and a woman who refused to quit!

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Reclaim Advantage! Reclaim Life! My Boston Marathon Musings and Eddie the Eagle

Jeffrey Spratt,MT
, pioneer of the life changing and life saving Spratt Method of Muscular Therapy suggested that I watch the movie, "Eddie the Eagle." One of the things that facilitates our healing is our powerful connection on and off of the table. We love movies and The West Wing and discovered all of that after I started working with him. The other body workers that I worked with were so constricted in their lives and in their world view. Jeffrey is filled with passion, with purpose and embraces all that life has to offer.

As a survivor of paralytic polio and trauma, in addition to his powerful healing touch, Jeffrey's personality and his whole way of Being is medicine for me - mind, body and soul.

As I watched the movie (with a box of tissues at hand), I was reminded of my 2009 Boston Marathon run. I closed my eyes on the bus ride out to Hopkinton. When Eddie the Eagle said, "It's a lot higher than I expected it to be," I remember how I felt going out 26.2 miles knowing there was only one way I was going to get back to Boston...and that was on my two feet.

So many wonderful quotes that I identified with in the movie:
"You can do your best and still finish last."
"I love proving people wrong."
"You've got more Spirit than any of those other jumpers out there."

I really had no business running the 2009 Boston Marathon yet it was a calling from deep inside my soul. Any of the nay sayers along the way were quickly unfriended by me on Facebook. I remember there was a FB post about whether or not Charity Runners should even be allowed to run the Boston Marathon. Team McManus raised over $10,000 - $10,535 to be exact for Spaulding Rehab which is where I began this crazy journey 10 years ago.

From "Going the Distance: The Power of Endurance" available on Amazon:

Running? Mary McManus? aka "Easy Out Alper" (my maiden name) - um a rather unlikely combination to say the least. But not impossible despite all appearances to the contrary. After intensive, extensive outpatient rehab through Spaulding Rehab, writing poems, visualizing myself as healthy, whole and free in my body, quitting my stressful job as a VA social worker, and then hiring a personal trainer, I felt this urge inside of me.

At my six-month evaluation in February, I had dramatically improved in every area of the assessment. I had come out of my leg brace and I knew that I was on a healing path. Janine asked me what my next health and fitness goals were.

“Well I want to feel free in my body. I want to dance. I want to be able to walk outside and feel unencumbered when I take a walk.”

Janine wrote feverishly and we worked out a plan. She gathered up her belongings and had her hand on the doorknob.

“Wait. I have one more goal.”

Janine stopped and turned around.

“I want to run the Boston Marathon for Spaulding Rehab Hospital. I know they have a Race for Rehab team and I want to do it next year.”

Janine was nonplussed. I don’t know what kept her from turning tail and getting as far away from me as she could. She came back into my house and put down her things. She said that the first thing I would need is a pair of running shoes. She told me that Marathon Sports on Beacon Street would be able to help me. She laid out a cursory training plan and said that we would begin indoors to build up my cardio endurance. As soon as the weather got a little warmer, we’d go outdoors and I would learn how to run.

There was one "ugly" moment on Marathon Monday. We had an early start but by the time we arrived in Framingham the waves of runners were catching up to us. There was a narrow water stop and one guy pushed me and said that I shouldn't be in the Marathon if I were walking. He dumped Gatorade on my running shoes.

I shook it off and went ahead undeterred believing that I had every right to be out on that course. I had worked hard. I had trained and ultimately I crossed that finish line!

I continue to work and at times struggle in my epic journey to heal the effects of paralytic polio and trauma.

That's what makes the triumph so sweet....

And to all of the Mary McManuses and Eddie the Eagles out there I have one thing to say - never ever give up on your dreams!

To your health and wellness,

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Reclaim Advantage! Reclaim Life! When a run is so much more!

First let me say what a blessing and a gift it is to be able to do my core work and weighted clams and just head out the door on a run. I know in every fiber of my Being that this miracle of healing is brought about by the work I am doing with Jeffrey Spratt,MT who pioneered his very own method of muscular therapy that heals trauma and for me the effects of paralytic polio. It's the power of positive quality touch with love and compassion along with a touch of humor and playing trivial pursuit West Wing style!

When "they" told me in December of 2014 after a very serious knee injury that I would never run again, I was heartbroken. Running is my medicine, my therapy, my joy and my sangha (my tribe). I just knew I had to find a way to come back. I was so blessed to first meet Dr. Ryan Means, a chiropractor healer who reignited my belief in my body's capacity to heal and directed me to the work of Dr. Joe Dispenza. Jeffrey and Ryan made quite the team until Ryan moved to China to bring his gifts to the other side of the world.

The imprint he left on my heart, body, mind and soul remain and fuel my health and wellness journey!

It was the first temperate weather day in New England in a very long time. It seemed like the joyous bird songs were the accompaniment to everyone's run. We bumped into so many people we know from the running community.

It was one big party from Cleveland Circle down Beacon Street which just happens to be along the Boston Marathon route after the dreaded Heartbreak Hill. Whether runners were training for Boston or getting out to enjoy a run maintaining training for the next event, there was the spring in the step as Spring was in the air.

Our runner friends who we hadn't seen in awhile asked us about our trip and race to Bermuda. There's such a special feeling being able to recap and regale a race with good friends. We bumped into a friend who we thought might have had an injury. We hadn't seen her running in the neighborhood (she runs in all kinds of weather) and then saw her running at a slower pace. She stopped to chat with us and shared with us that yes in fact she was injured but she's back now. She wanted to hear all about the adventures of Team McManus in Bermuda.

One runner stopped me and asked me if I could help him schedule an appointment at Spratt Muscular Therapies. He had the same injury that his friend had who came to our practice and was able to run her Ultra and then came in for a recovery massage. I love mixing pleasure with business!

Tom and I had a great 5 mile run. One of our friend's had finished up her run but joined us for part of our run which was on the route to her going home.

What a joy that the warmer weather brought so many of our friends out on a Saturday morning to get their run on.

I'm working on my pace as we get ready for two 5K races coming up in April and May. I want to maintain my 5 mile distance while working on speed because next February Team McManus takes on the 40th Anniversary of the Hyannis Marathon Weekend. Oooh interestingly enough we will be celebrating our 40th Anniversary on 3/4th of next year.

I am so grateful and blessed that I can reclaim my advantage and reclaim my life at the age of 63 years old in the wake of having experienced paralytic polio and severe childhood trauma.

I am so grateful for the gift of running and the icing on the cake on last Saturday's run was that our run was so much more!

To your health and wellness!

Friday, March 17, 2017

Reclaim Advantage! Reclaim Life! They said "No way!" I said "Watch me!"

In yesterday's blog post I talked about reclaiming my Spirit. I made reference to Eddie the Eagle who was told by everyone that he would never make it to the Olympics. I can't wait to watch the movie this weekend!

From the time I was 5 years old, I was receiving negative, rejecting messages from all around me. The people who were supposed to take care of me were hoping that I would die from the polio virus. Starting at the age of 8, unthinkable acts were perpetrated upon me. "You tell anyone and I'll kill you."

It is, as my partner in healing Jeffrey Spratt,MT so often says, a miracle that I made it through and that now I am just hitting my prime at age 63.

I did, however, have a moment of redemption in gym class. My nickname was Easy Out Alper (my maiden name). I was always the last pick. During kickball everyone moved in from the outfield taunting with Easy Out Alper. One day, it was a very movie like moment...after everyone moved in from the outfield, I connected with the ball. went into the outfield only there was no one there to make the play so I scored a home run limping triumphantly around the bases!

Ten years ago I was given the diagnosis of Post-Polio Syndrome, a progressive neuromuscular disease. No way should you even attempt to run. If you use it you will lose it. Something inside of me was literally and metaphorically burning to move. I couldn't accept what the doctors were telling me although I had no idea how I was going to get out of a toe up leg brace:

to the finish line of the 2009 Boston Marathon.

All I said was "Watch me!"

Rewind to December 2014. An MRI showed degenerative changes in my knee joint from osteoarthritis and reconstructive leg surgery, bone spurs, a fatty lipoma and an atrophied gastroc muscle. No way should you run again - well we told you to not run in the first place. Come into the Post Polio Clinic again for a reevaluation. Let's see what we can do because you know this isn't going to get any better. The gastroc muscle is gone. We know that's what happens after polio. There's nothing you can do about it and that's why you have to be so careful. But I know you're gonna do what you're gonna do but just don't run any farther than 5 miles.

Okay I said for about a New York minute. I was about to affirmatively respond to the "No way" message until the Universe made it abundantly clear to me that this was not the path for me! A physical therapist from hell and a whole "Team" of people telling me no way. You're going to hurt yourself. You need a knee replacement. Cautionary tales and cautionary messages from even the massage therapist I was working with at the time.

Yes I was injured. I was not cross training and I was pushing myself way too hard. I did 9 races in 9 months. I wrote poetry with even greater fervor and as I look back on all the poems I wrote, I was conjuring up healers who would help me to go the distance in my healing journey liberated from the shackles of paralytic polio and trauma AND the beliefs that were embedded in the very fiber of my body and being.

I asked how would I ever reclaim my life and yearning to run unencumbered and free!

Yes Jeffrey it IS a miracle that I made it through but the miracle is that I met you. While once I had nay sayers at every turn and had to say "Watch me!" you asked me with great confidence "What leg are we rehabbing." You do epic stuff like Spartan Races and Sprint Triathlons that inspire me and got so excited when I told you that I was going to train for another Half Marathon and were with me every mile of the way. And then when I told you we were going to go back to Bermuda in 2017 you went on to celebrate that I was training for and would run my second CONSECUTIVE Half Marathon making sure I put the emphasis on CONSECUTIVE in all capital letters. And now I am laying the ground work to run my 2018 Half Marathon in Portland Maine.

Rather than having to say "Watch me!", you are telling me at every turn how I inspire you and you support and encourage all of my goals to heal the effects of paralytic polio and trauma. Now you watch me and Divine Love flows through you as every week we relieve the stress and tension of working full time, training 5 days a week and continuing to heal the once devastating effects of trauma.

It took great courage and strength to stand up to those who wanted to destroy me; to those who had limiting beliefs about what is possible. But through the power of my imagination, my strong faith, my pen - my Divining rod for healing and having been touched by grace I have been able to reclaim my advantage and reclaim my life. Jeffrey says, "Way" at every turn and I say to the world Watch me now!

To your health and wellness,

Be sure to vote for Spratt Muscular Therapies in the FedEx Small Business Grant Contest by following this link.

My latest book, 'Going the Distance: The Power of Endurance' is available on Amazon chronicling my journey to health and wellness as a survivor of paralytic polio and trauma and a woman who refused to quit!

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Reclaim Advantage! Reclaim Life! On Champions and Heroes - Reclaiming my Spirit!

During yesterday's powerful and transformational massage therapy session with Jeffrey Spratt,MT he told me about the movie, "Eddie the Eagle."

He told me that I was his Olympic champion. He also tells me that I am his hero. Jeffrey knows how much I struggle and work so hard to overcome the effects of paralytic polio and horrific child/adolescent abuse that followed for 9 years. Since partnering with Jeffrey in April of 2015, I am able to experience the struggle without a relapse of what was often times debilitating fatigue and pain, and without injury. I am able to work out and train 5 days a week. He knows the pain I still endure but that it's manageable thanks to his trail blazing Spratt Method of Muscular Therapy and compassionate presence. He acknowledges and tells me he is in awe of my indomitable Spirit.

Although Eddie the Eagle finished last in both of his events in the 1988 Winter Olympics, he was the embodiment of the Olympic spirit.

Jeffrey also knew the story of when I was 8 years old at Badger Day Camp. At the end of the summer, Badger held its own Olympics for campers. One of my counselors dear departed Dr. Joe Stetz, who gave up his Olympic dream to become a physician asked me to compete in the Butterfly. I thought he was crazy but he knew exactly what he was doing. He was helping me to cultivate the heart of a champion.

Like Eddie the Eagle, I spent several years in a leg brace after contracting paralytic polio. I knew what it was like to be written off and not given a chance. I too love proving people wrong as I'll be writing about in tomorrow's blog.

Jeffrey and I talked about Wilma Rudolph, polio survivor and Olympic Gold Medalist. Through the power of positive touch with daily massage from her mother and her siblings, and the collective consciousness of her family to help her heal from the devastating effects of paralytic polio, she came out of the leg brace, went on to play basketball and run Track in the off season. In 1960, she became the first American woman to win three gold medals in track and field at a single Olympics.

After I ran the Boston Marathon, people were posting on Facebook and sending me emails that I was their hero. I remember blogging about how I was a reluctant hero not quite understanding the impact that my Boston Marathon run had on people.

Now I do!

In yesterday's massage therapy session, as Jeffrey worked to untangle and bring relief to areas that were tight as a result of my working full time, training 5 days a week and still unearthing and healing the fossilized traumatic memories, I got in touch with how horrible, ugly and unworthy I felt in the face of my parents' betrayal of me. As I cried from the depths of my soul, Jeffrey brought his skilled and caring touch, his warm hands and compassion to help me heal these wounds and unearth the treasure of my Being. My grandmother who tortured me with rituals told me that self praise stinks. Well like so much of what she tried to indoctrinate me with, she was way off base! We need and deserve to celebrate ourselves especially when we triumph over what seems to be insurmountable odds.

As the tears dry and the pain recedes, I am able to, at last, reclaim my advantage, reclaim my life, reclaim my Spirit and celebrate the amazing person I am.

To your health and wellness!

My latest book, 'Going the Distance: The Power of Endurance' is available on Amazon chronicling my journey to health and wellness as a survivor of paralytic polio and trauma and a woman who refused to quit!

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Reclaim Advantage! Reclaim Life! On Patience and Reclaiming Beauty!

It's been two years since my beloved chiropractor healer, Dr. Ryan taught me about the proper form for squats and about using the support of the wall. It was shortly after a serious knee injury in December of 2014 when a physiatrist, physical therapists and even the massage therapist I was working with at the time told me that I shouldn't/wouldn't/couldn't run again. Oh but if I did it should be no more than a 5 miler. "We told you shouldn't have been running in the first place, but it's your life and you're gonna do what you're gonna do....Why don't you schedule appointments again at the Post-Polio Clinic and let's see how we can help you....Yes you're gastroc muscle is atrophied. We know that. It's been that way since you had polio. There's nothing you can do about that."

Oh really?

Dr. Ryan turned me onto the work of Dr. Joe Dispenza. I poured over "You Are the Placebo." Dr. Ryan taped my calf to stimulate the growth of new muscle. He recommended gastroc muscle strengthening exercises. At first I could not go up and down on my toes on my left leg - the leg most affected by the polio virus. We used the concept of mirror neurons; stimulating the connection of my left leg by "watching" the right leg move up and down on my toes while stimulating the connection of going up and down on my toes with both legs. Little by little, with patience, and through the incredible power of positive quality touch by partnering with Jeffrey Spratt,MT, pioneer of the Spratt Method of Muscular Therapy we have grown a new gastroc muscle! I continue to practice gastroc muscle strengthening exercises both on land and in the pool.

This past Sunday while strength training on land - a milestone in and of itself because for years I wasn't able to strength train on land due to the effects of childhood/adolescent trauma and paralytic polio - I was able to do 25 squats away from the wall. It just happened. My body was ready and everything fired up to make that happen.

Perhaps one of my greatest challenges in healing the effects of paralytic polio and trauma has been reclaiming my beauty. The woman who gave birth to me and the woman who gave birth to her had this twisted and convoluted view of beauty. In all fairness, part of that was cultural back in the 60's but where things went terribly awry was their reaction to me after contracting paralytic polio.

I was a beautiful ballerina with long shiny hair. I was graceful and loved being in my body.

Imagine if you will the story from "A Chorus Line" - "At the Ballet"

My ballet teacher, Miss Patricia was my role model for beauty and grace.

After disaster struck with contracting paralytic polio, I felt ugly and despised my body. They carted me off to the hairdresser to get my hair cut off because long hair was too much trouble to take care of. As if that were not enough to leave me feeling ugly, physical, sexual and emotional abuse began when I was 8 years old, just 3 years after contracting paralytic polio and continued until I was 17.

On April 19, 2015, I met the man who would help me reclaim my beauty through the power of positive, quality, innovative touch.

Week after week we go through the layers of memories that can now be recalled with Jeffrey's compassionate presence and his warm, skilled touch. My body heals. My heart heals and my soul rejoices that I'm safe now. I made it through.

I have to continue to practice patience as my body continues to heal from the ravages of paralytic polio and violence. The pain I experience is the pain of healing; the soreness a sign of strength.

I reclaim my beauty that reflects the incredible resilience of my Spirit and the Love in my heart; beauty in the wrinkles and the silver in my hair that reflect the passage of time.

I celebrate all of my successes and gains in these past 2 years and the incredible journey of transformation and I adopt the pace of Mother Nature as I continue to challenge myself and heal the wounds of a war torn youth.

To your health and wellness,

My latest book, 'Going the Distance: The Power of Endurance' is available on Amazon chronicling my journey to health and wellness as a survivor of paralytic polio and trauma and a woman who refused to quit!

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Reclaim Advantage! Reclaim Life! Reclaim Muscle Power! Celebrating Success!

Yesterday Jeffrey Spratt, MT and I were blessed to be part of Dr. Kansra's Walk with a Doc at St. Vincent's Hospital in Worcester. Dr. Kansra posted this on Facebook, "Over the last 2 years Jeffrey worked with Mary and session after grueling session Mary regained her muscle power."


Last summer, Jeffrey and I did a healing ceremony at Castle Island. During the ceremony in which we called in all 4 of the elements, Jeffrey led me through Rejuvenation Exercise as part of the earth element. One of the exercises he used was one that strengthens biceps and triceps. At the time I was unable to organize neurologically to do the exercise. Jeffrey guided my arms through the exercise providing education about the muscles we were firing up with the exercise.

Jeffrey used that exercise yesterday. Everything was neurologically organized to allow me to follow the exercise and feel the burn.

Sunday is my day to strength train. Two years ago Dr. Ryan Means aka Dr. Ryan, a chiropractor and healer was an earth angel sent to me after my knee injury of December 2014. After a physical therapist from hell asked me how come I couldn't squat, Dr. Ryan showed me the proper way to squat and suggested that I use the wall until I had the proprioception and muscle power to do a squat away from the wall. Little by little I've been moving away from the wall and today - boom! It happened - 25 squats away from the wall. It took incredible effort and energy and I cried after they were done. They were tears of effort, gratitude and a sense of triumph!

After contracting paralytic polio I never had the chance to build strength. I was blessed and oh so fortunate that I came out of my leg brace and was able to walk again albeit with a limp but for my body to completely heal, I needed a loving, nurturing environment. Unfortunately the family that I was born into was anything but loving and nurturing. On top of the paralytic polio, I had to endure 9 years of unrelenting horror against myself mind, body and soul.

With the Spratt Method of Muscular Therapy, Jeffrey's compassionate presence and being what I like to call a Battle Buddy, we are clearing out the emotional and physical debris from the battlefield of my past. Having all that gunk out of my system, I am able to work out and strength train and physically, emotionally and spiritually transform from the girl and adolescent and woman who endured and embodied the effects of paralytic polio and trauma to a woman who is now reclaiming muscle power and celebrating success!

To your health and wellness,

My latest book, 'Going the Distance: The Power of Endurance' is available on Amazon chronicling my journey to health and wellness as a survivor of paralytic polio and trauma and a woman who refused to quit!

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Reclaim Advantage! Reclaim Life! Walk with a Doc - Educate.Exercise.Empower

"Motivating people to take charge of their own health brings such joy and the best part is getting to partner with patients in their Journey. The power to heal lies within us." - Dr. Nandana Kansra, "Walk with a Doc" program director at St. Vincent's Hospital Worcester, MA

Ever since I chose a path other than the ones the doctors predicted for me after being diagnosed with Post-Polio Syndrome, a progressive neuromuscular disease by Western Medicine standards, I wanted to find a way to share my message of healing, hope and possibility with the medical community. The Post-Polio community did not want to hear from me. Doctors and polio survivors alike turned a deaf ear to my story. As I look back on it, the timing wasn't right. There was more of the story to be told. My healing would have to pass the test of time.

Before partnering with Jeffrey Spratt,MT my healing did not stand up to the test of time. There were setbacks and injuries. I love Dr. Kansra's quote: "Mary is Jeffrey's work partner and she is a hero in her own right. Mary was diagnosed with paralytic polio at the age of 5 and lost the use of her leg. Over the last 2 years Jeffrey worked with Mary and session after grueling session Mary regained her muscle power." So eloquently stated!

Jeffrey presents his Rejuvenation Exercise to the Harvard Medical School's Updates in Internal Medicine Course every year. Last December, Dr. Kansra was enthralled with Jeffrey, the Rejuvenation Exercise and the work he is doing.

She invited Jeffrey and me to her Saturday "Walk With a Doc" session. I was able to share my healing journey and how, since partnering with Jeffrey I am able to go the distance. It is always such a blessing for me to share my journey and inspire others with my determination and endurance.

Before we walked, Jeffrey did his Rejuvenation Exercise:

The Rejuvenation Exercise energized the body and warmed up the muscles in preparation for an hour walk around the Atrium.

Everyone walks at their own pace. It's group therapy and medicine at its finest!

I was blessed to hear stories and share my story and also share the work that Jeffrey does.

Jeffrey loves being a teacher. His philosophy of his work is that knowledge is power. He teaches clients about what is going on in their bodies, how he works with them to help the body heal and prescribes self care to supplement the work he does in the office.

One of the walkers called Jeffrey, "A Muscle Whisperer."

I would have to agree!

After the walk, Dr. Kansra had me speak a little bit more about my book, Going the Distance: The Power of Endurance:

We said our goodbyes to the walkers and expressed mutual admiration and appreciation for each other and our journeys.

We took this photo before heading out to brunch:

We broke bread together and talked about how we happened to arrive in that moment as individuals and how the Universe brought us together. Nandana believes in lifestyle medicine taking a holistic approach to helping her patients toward wellness. Her journey to becoming a doctor was captivating. Jeffrey shared his connecting the dots story and how he landed at this moment in his life and we were all in awe of how this year Nandana was drawn to Jeffrey and his Rejuvenation Exercise even though she'd been at IMED in years past. I was able to answer her questions about my journey with polio and I let her know that she was an answer to my be able to share my journey within the model of Western Medicine.

Education. Exercise. Empowerment. Taking responsibility for health and healing. Reclaiming advantage and reclaiming life.

Walk with a Doc - a sacred, blessed morning and the beginning of things to come!

To your health and wellness,

Friday, March 10, 2017

Reclaim Advantage! Reclaim Life! Reclaiming My Body!

The above two quotes are from Wilma Rudolph, Gold Medalist and polio survivor. She was blessed to have the fierceness of a mother's love and surrounded by the love of her siblings to help her recover from polio and go on to become the first American woman to win three gold medals in track and field at a single Olympics.

I, on the other hand, had a mother and grandmother who stood and glared at me unable to/unwilling to care for me. I would have to wait until my father and/or grandfather came home to meet my basic needs. To add insult to injury, my mother who was addicted to prescription pain medication would say to my father and grandfather, "Oh don't bother with her. Just leave her there to die."

My spirit was fierce and I was touched by grace having a vision of a Being who reeled me up to meet Him in a well bucket. It was an out of body experience and I chose life even though I was in a pretty precarious situation to say the least.

At age 8, shortly after coming out of a leg brace and working so hard with my physical therapist earth angel Miss Holly and my physiatrist Dr. Moskowitz, my father began to sexually abuse me. As every sexual predator says to its prey, "If you tell anyone I will kill you." So there I was trying to will my body back to health yet carrying the burden of the secret and the pain of abuse within me.

To survive I dissociated from my body and developed my intellectual prowess. While I survived, the years of self loathing and dissociating from my body caused my body to shut down in December of 2006 and I was diagnosed with Post-Polio Syndrome, a progressive neuromuscular disease.

It was a wake up call and for these past 10 years I have been on a healing quest.

On April 19, 2015, my healing odyssey took a magnificent miraculous turn for the better as I found my way to Jeffrey Spratt,MT, pioneer of the Spratt Method of Muscular Therapy. Each week his method of muscular therapy coaxes my muscles and nerves back to health - factory new - as we like to say.

Sometimes I get so frustrated. As Tom jogs easily beside me, I have to push myself to achieve a 16 minute/mile pace (although I'm getting my speed back after training for the Half Marathon). Five days a week I am working to my maximum capacity to rebuild muscles and nerves. But then I remember the words of Dr. Joe Dispenza:

I look at this beautiful scar on my nose. It took years to finally heal and most people would have wondered why I did not see a doctor to have it evaluated. I knew what was causing it to fester and then scab over time after time. With Jeffrey's warm healing hands and intention for my healing combining with my powerful intention to heal, we were able to heal the wound without any Western Medicine intervention.

I can feel all the areas that are burning with healing sensations as new neuromuscular connections are getting fired up. I can also feel the enormity of the abuse, know that it is no longer this vast wasteland of not knowing what happened to me because I had to block it out to survive and most importantly of all, I can feel the heal.

Jeffrey's masterful technique is coaxing everything back to the way it would have been if I would have been given a chance to heal after contracting paralytic polio. When there are moments without pain and with stillness from the tremors I focus and imprint those sensations knowing that there are more and more moments of healing manifesting into physical reality.

Unlike when I worked with Miss Holly and Dr. Moskowitz, I can share everything that happened to me with Jeffrey. In addition to the muscular therapy work that brings profound healing to the effects of paralytic polio, Jeffrey partners with me to heal the emotional, physical and spiritual wounds from the horror I lived through. It's a redo - a 2nd chance - the total grace. The passage of time doesn't matter! All that matters is now and that now I finally have the opportunity to reclaim my advantage, reclaim my life AND reclaim every square inch of my body!

To your health and wellness,

My latest book, 'Going the Distance: The Power of Endurance' is available on Amazon chronicling my journey to health and wellness as a survivor of paralytic polio and trauma and a woman who refused to quit!

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Reclaim Advantage! Reclaim Life! Run Forrest Run!

In February of 2007, after I'd been diagnosed with Post-Polio Syndrome, a progressive neuromuscular disease I sat contemplating a rather grim future.

From my memoir, "Coming Home: A Memoir of Healing, Hope and Possibility:"

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:

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 sobbed to write those words. I had never spoken about polio or the abuse I endured. I became curious. Why am I writing about winning a 10K race?

I had no muscle memory whatsoever to draw from in my mind or body. I had danced ballet before I contracted paralytic polio but I never ran. I was galloping around the gym in kindergarten but that's not running. I was "Easy Out Alper" (my maiden name) once I came out of the leg brace and participated in gym class again. I always felt heavy and encumbered in my body.

I had to find something to ignite the spark for my motor neurons that was lit when I wrote that poem.

I went on to run the 2009 Boston Marathon:

Something was missing though!

Unlike Forrest Gump, from that day on I couldn't keep on running.

The residual effects of paralytic polio and the build up of gunk in my system kept me stuck in the physical and emotional memories of my past.

I tried to break free through meditation, poetry, visualization but I needed someone with powerful medicine; powerful hands and a method of muscular therapy that would help me to heal and transform the trauma and the effects of paralytic polio.

On April 19, 2015, I found my way Jeffrey Spratt,MT's massage therapy table.

From "Going the Distance: The Power of Endurance:"


He greeted me at the Front Desk of Wave Health and Fitness all 6’2 and a half inches of him (6’3” on the program he once told me) dressed in his collared black Spratt Muscular Therapies shirt and beige khakis. My hands shook as I tried to complete the intake form. Do I dare trust another massage therapist? What if he turns out to be just like all the other body workers I met during these past 8 years? Was he trustworthy? After all the only thing I knew about him really was what I read on his website that contained very little information about him. When I did a google search I learned that he taught at the Cortiva Institute, had a degree in aviation and had been a practice manager at Massage Works in Quincy. I did some Facebook stalking and discovered we had mutual friends in common from L Street Running Club. I sent him a photo from One Boston Day with a Facebook message letting him know we had Facebook friends in common. He said he was looking forward to seeing me on Sunday.

With his sweeping arm gesture, he led me into his treatment room and said to Tom who had accompanied me to the appointment since I was worried about getting lost, “We’ll see you in 90 minutes.” He reviewed my intake form and put his black rimmed glasses on top of his head to make eye contact with me. I briefly told him about my trauma history and a history of polio. “Most importantly of all, you need to know that I had a very serious knee injury back in December of 2014. They told me I wouldn’t and couldn’t and shouldn’t run again. It showed I had no gastroc muscle but I’m working with a chiropractor to grow a new one. I’m registered to run the Finish at the 50 race on July 3rd.”

“Okay! Thanks for letting me know all that. Get undressed to your comfort level. I can even work through your clothes if you’d like.”

“I need to feel this guy’s touch,” I thought to myself. After all I’d been through with Joseph, {the previous massage therapist I worked with} my nerves conditioned to abandonment and neglect were on fire. If this was going to be the guy I was going to partner with to go the distance, then I had to let myself be vulnerable and open to experience his touch.

During that treatment he asked me what leg are we rehabbing. At the end of the session he looked straight into my eyes and from his heart he said, "I want you to run unencumbered."

Yesterday Tom and I went on a run. I am pushing my pace now that I am no longer training for a half marathon. It still takes incredible effort to run BUT the leg brace is gone and I am free now to train, cross train, strength train and swim leaving the emotional and physical memories of polio and trauma in the rear view mirror.

Just as my physical therapist, Miss Holly did back in the late 50's and early 60's, Jeffrey is coaxing my body back to health. Unfortunately my recovery was interrupted with Miss Holly and Dr. Moskowitz (my rehab medicine doctor) by the severe abuse, neglect and torture I suffered at the hands of family members.

As Jeffrey said to me during yesterday's treatment, after I said "They wanted me dead but I'm still here - ha!" - "Yes you are and you are thriving. Just think about all those kids who hit their peak in high school. They are taking the retirement pill now. Here you are working out 5 days a week, getting stronger and living this full, vibrant life."

He's right and I know in every fiber of my being that I would not be where I am today without the work we are doing together.

Every week, every day in every way I continue to reclaim my advantage and reclaim my life running free and unencumbered breaking free from the leg brace and the shackles of my past.

Run Forrest....Run ... and from that day on whenever I was goin' somewhere I.was.runnin'!

To your health and wellness,

Monday, March 6, 2017

Reclaim Advantage! Reclaim Life! Reclaim Self Worth!

"Perhaps more than the physical torture you experienced," Jeffrey Spratt,MT said to me during one of our transformational massage therapy sessions, is the emotional, mental and spiritual suffering you endured."


Despite having been an award winning social worker at the VA and knowing I changed and saved many lives, I've struggled with feeling my self worth - especially as a woman.

We have so many messages bombarding us from our culture about what it means to be a woman although I must say the tide has recently turned. As women we tend to measure ourselves against the cultural standard of what it means to be beautiful. After contracting paralytic polio and having my mother and grandmother cart me off to the hairdressers to have my beautiful long hair chopped off into a pixie cut because they couldn't be bothered with taking care of it (or me) I internalized this feeling of being ugly. Wearing an ankle to hip metal leg brace, being on crutches and having my classmates taunt and tease me did not do much to help with my self worth. The proverbial icing on the cake at having my self worth eroded away came when I was raped from the ages of 8-13 and then "beaten into the middle of next week" and subjected to torture rituals by family members.

Herein lies the grace. Body workers I went to before Jeffrey were into domination, humiliation and passive aggressive behaviors that were reminiscent of the relationships I had with my family members. They used what we like to call a one lever approach to treatment focusing on implementing a method taught to them by a self proclaimed guru. No wonder I could not get traction on my healing journey. Part of the problem was definitely within me because I did not believe that I was worthy and deserving of healing.

I was blessed to meet Ryan J. Means, DC in February of 2015. All of the poetry that poured forth from my subconscious yearning for healing, freedom, reclaiming my life and running unencumbered and free as well as imagining the kind of healer I wanted to partner with came into being. Ryan told me in words, actions and with his incredible healing and skillful hands that it was my time! That I was worthy and deserving of "the royal treatment," as he once said to me as he took extra time and care with me.

And then, two months later I was blessed to cross paths with Jeffrey who every week reminds me how deserving I am of healing, of the power of positive quality touch and how beautiful, strong and amazing I am. I marvel at what we are creating together to heal lives through the power of positive quality touch.

Today I received a bulletin from the Blinded Veterans Association. Funny how after all these years I am still on their mailing list. Early on in my career I received a Certificate of Appreciation from the BVA for all I'd done to build the program and to ensure that blinded veterans were receiving the care and benefits they deserved. I received a Certificate of Appreciation from the Former Prisoners of War for the work I did with their group at the Causeway Street Outpatient Clinic and the work I did meeting with the POW's and their wives to support them as they struggled with aging, PTSD and a decline in functioning.

I was Social Worker of the Year and Employee of the Month.

I established the Telefriend Program which provided outreach to at risk veterans. My volunteer was a visually impaired veteran who suffered a massive stroke and could no longer work as Chief of Pharmacy for the City of Boston. He had a new lease on life as he provided peer support and we worked together to on some days save lives and on other days be a lifeline for otherwise elderly, frail, housebound veterans.

Until Jeffrey and I cleared out the beliefs that were a result of the conditioning I experienced as a survivor of paralytic polio and trauma, I could not fully embrace and experience my beauty, all the good I have done and continue to do and my self worth.

But now I can -- reclaim my advantage! Reclaim my life! and Reclaim my self worth! As Eleanor Roosevelt so eloquently said, "No one can make you feel inferior without your consent." I withdraw my consent from anyone making me feel inferior ever again!

To your health and wellness,

My latest book, 'Going the Distance: The Power of Endurance' is available on Amazon chronicling my journey to health and wellness as a survivor of paralytic polio and trauma and a woman who refused to quit!

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Reclaim Advantage! Reclaim Life! New Goals - New Training Plan - Reclaiming Strength!

In a recent blog post I talked about how, since partnering with Jeffrey Spratt,MT who pioneered the Spratt Method of Muscular Therapy, we are building a new foundation mind, body and soul.

The severe child abuse I suffered at the hands of family members for 9 years (just 3 years after contracting paralytic polio at age 5) resulted in layers of fossilized traumatic memories and an inability for my body to heal after paralytic polio.

I remember how, after running the 2009 Boston Marathon, I had to stop working with my personal trainer. I literally did not have it in me to continue working the program of gaining strength once I stopped training for a marathon. The usual ebb and flow of training is that while building distance, one backs off from increasing strength training and then once the endurance event is finished, one continues to build strength moving to higher and higher levels of fitness.

Since I have new goals of running the Hyannis 10K in February of 2018 and then doing the Portland Half Marathon in October, with 5K races in between to give me goals for working on improving speed, I've revamped my training plan.

As I said to Jeffrey before my last treatment, something happens to me when I get on a treadmill. Even though I did a hard run last Wednesday with negative splits, I had to keep lowering the pace during yesterday's 4 mile treadmill run. When once I was so afraid of challenging my body for fear I would break - and many times I did with injuries and recurrence of debilitating pain in different parts of my body - I now train with confidence that I can see just what this body can do and achieve. See the sweat glistening on me after yesterday's 4 miler:

I instinctively knew it was time to increase my plank time from 3:35 to 3:40. I increased reps of Knee to Elbow and Bicycle to 15 reps and I increased my leg weights from 4 lbs to 5 lbs decreasing reps to 8 and will build back up to 12 reps.

I'm on a mission now! He who shall not be named tried to break me. He tried to break my spirit and in many ways he broke my body. Until I was blessed to meet the healing hands and compassionate presence of Jeffrey, my body was broken. Everything was congested and as much as I fired up my brain and harnessed the power of my imagination to feel healthy, whole, free and strong, we had to clear out all the debris in order to make space for me to work out and build muscle. We're building new neuromuscular connections, a new neural net and in the wake of the horror I have room to enjoy the challenges that everybody gets to enjoy when they work out and train. We are rewiring with love.

I won't lie. This is so painful. There is still residue from polio and abuse. There is phantom pain. But then there is the juicy delicious soreness that comes with reclaiming strength. I know that the emotional and physical pain from polio and the abuse will end and I'm so excited to see and experience what's next on this amazing journey. And what an absolute blessing to partner with Jeffrey who is a master muscular therapist, a dear friend now and healer.

True healers know that wellness is the order of the day, so they do not allow themselves, even for a moment, to see anything other than that. So, the power of the healer is in the power to influence the one who needs to be healed into a vibration that allows the healing that they are summoning. (that they could get, even without the healer, but they can get faster with a healer's influence) ~Abraham

The other body workers that I saw believed that they would impose change from the outside in. They also recapitulated the abusive relationship I had with my family members. Jeffrey listens to my body and to me and does whatever is needed WITH ME to help me reclaim my advantage and reclaim my life and now - reclaiming strength in new and wondrous ways!

I was once taunted and teased with "Easy Out Alper" in gym class. Well look out world! McManus is on the move!

To your health and wellness!

My latest book, 'Going the Distance: The Power of Endurance' is available on Amazon chronicling my journey to health and wellness as a survivor of paralytic polio and trauma and a woman who refused to quit!