Thursday, December 9, 2010

I Am NOT My Diagnosis - But I AM a Runner

Four years ago I sat in my office at the Department of Veterans Affairs so relieved that I finally had a diagnosis for what plagued me for at least ten years and so frightened about my future. My then travel agent Linda Mitchell who has become an incredibly dear friend through the years and who I blogged about in Unfinished Business was helping me get through my final days at work before I left for a Bermuda vacation. She would email me photos of Bermuda and they brought me respite from the incredible physical and emotional pain I was experiencing.

When we met in Bermuda in 2007, one of the things she said to me was, "Don't claim your diagnosis by using the word 'my' for 'my post polio doctor' or 'my diagnosis'." I was able to release the diagnosis as I trained for and ran the Boston Marathon but my lesson had not yet been learned and integrated. Last year I 'owned' the diagnosis again. Life is truly a journey not a destination. I needed to do more soul work. I talked a lot about living with post polio syndrome in my blog posts last year but at the same time was reworking and healing on a deeper level so that I was able to emerge from last winter healthier and stronger for having taken the time to regroup.

This morning during my morning meditation and for those of you who watched the Merrimack Valley Striders video the words "I am not my diagnosis" continue to echo through my being. Yesterday I was blessed to have lunch with my brother - an early birthday celebration. He gave me a gift certificate to Marathon Sports. I reflected on the miracle of us being together and of us being as healthy and whole as we are having come from a scene right out of Mad Men. He reinvented himself in his personal and career life at mid life. He is a spinning instructor. I am a marathoner and a runner. Huh, who knew? Our parents and our family culture was certainly not one of health and exercise. Smoking, drinking, overeating, a sedentary, chaotic lifestyle was the norm. Yet here we were talking about what we do to stay healthy as we enter our later years. He will be 60 next year.

My brother did ask me about post polio and my physical diagnoses. He gently asked me if the tremors were part of post polio. He doesn't read my blog so it's safe to say that yes, the tremors are due in part to post polio but they are also due in large part to the beatings I experienced. As I talked about post polio and cervical spine disease I felt a detachment from the words. They describe what happened in my body but now I have slid across the rainbow and landed in a pot of gold of healing.

Every healing angel I have been sent has helped me to build on the work I have done before. I feel a comfort in my own body; I have shed feelings of shame and humiliation and the need to make apologies for myself. When I chose to do my recumbent bike instead of run out in the cold, I could focus on wow - I did 13.2 miles on my recumbent bike instead of - I should have gone on a run. Last night I used the gift certificate to Marathon Sports to get some heavy duty cold weather running gear. It was such fun to go on a shopping spree for me! I have more energy to enjoy life.

My heart aches for polio survivors who remain embittered and angry. I see posts on Facebook with the End Polio Now campaign from polio survivors who have not found the blessing wrapped inside the gift of polio and post polio syndrome. I had to leave the Polio Today forum because there was such rancor, discontent and a sense of victimization at what polio had done to destroy their lives and quality of life. I was so blessed when I worked at the VA to see people who, despite incredible challenges were able to find beauty and love and light in life. I wake up every morning to a painting one of the veterans gave me. He had lost use of his body from the neck down but taught himself how to paint holding a paintbrush in his mouth. He was also legally blind yet created beautiful paintings from the memories in his mind's eye.

No matter what challenges life may bring, it becomes our challenge to find the grace, the beauty, the strength, the blessings wrapped inside the challenge; to learn our soul lessons and to be grateful for what we learn and then to take that challenge and use it for the highest good to make the world a better place for us having been here.

It's time for me to test out the cold weather gear and go on a run because well, I am not my diagnosis, but I am a runner!

To read more about my journey and to check out incredible Holiday Gift ideas, be sure to visit my website.

I love being a fund raiser and two of my champion causes right now are End Polio Now and Childrens Hospital Boston.

I donate 20% of book proceeds from my books of inspirational poetry to the End Polio Now campaign. If you would like to purchase a copy of the documentary "Keeping the Pace", for $10 send me an email at 100% of the proceeds are donated to End Polio Now.

God bless, be well and live like you were dyin'
From my heart to yours with love,

1 comment:

srrcam said...

Mary I so get the, "I am not my Diagnosis" as my son has an autism diagnosis, but he is not ausitic and IS a wonderfully bright, funny exceptionally talented athlete, yes athlete. Love this blog and you are in my thougts and heart:)