Sunday, September 8, 2013

Spotlight on Spaulding Rehab's Set Sail

The timing could not have been better. Two days after John Odom, the last of the survivors of the Boston Marathon bombing went home after being discharged from Spaulding's outpatient care, Spaulding Rehab Hospital was decked out with balloons and a festive atmosphere of celebration and healing for their annual Set Sail event.

I've been to other Set Sail events but none compared to today's event. This was the first Set Sail at the recently opened Charlestown facility. How remarkable that just 12 days after the Boston Marathon bombing, Spaulding Rehab opened its doors and many of the survivors came to Spaulding to find their emotional and physical strength after the devastating events of April 15th.

Today was a day of great food, fun, reunions and healing....

Members of the 2009 Race for Rehab Team reunited

an opportunity to experience adaptive fishing

Emcee Kelly Tuthill's opening remarks about Spaulding Rehab and the Adaptive Sports Program. The Spaulding Rehabilitation Network is dedicated to enabling individuals of all abilities to lead active, healthy lifestyles. Participation in sports and recreational pursuits helps to make this possible.

Spaulding Adaptive Sports programs began in Boston in 2001 and was named after the former medical director of Spaulding, Dr. Charles H. Weingarten. His wife, Jane is the co chair of the event held every year as the program's major fund raiser to enable children and adults to access sports and recreation. No one is turned away because of financial reasons.

Whether it is wheelchair tennis, hand cycling, adaptive rowing, or windsurfing, those living with disabilities after illness or injury can rebuild their strength and sense of independence while they increase body awareness, build self-confidence, learn new life skills, and even make new friends.

Children and adults can participate in Spaulding Adaptive Sports programs under the supervision of adaptive sports professionals as well as Spaulding therapists, providing the perfect environment to try a new sport or get back to one you have always loved. Our trained staff will help identify activities most appropriate for each participant, based on his or her capabilities.-Compiled from today's program and Spaulding's website}

President David Storto's opening remarks in which he shared his tremendous pride in Spaulding's response in the aftermath of the bombings and how grateful he is that the survivors were able to heal and recover at this state of the art facility.

He introduced Mayor Menino --

I was overcome with emotion as he talked about a park that is accessible for children of all abilities to be built on the property abutting Spaulding's new facility.

It was an emotional day all around as we reconnected with those with whom we were in the Mandarin Oriental on Marathon Monday, reunited with runners from our '09 team and those who we were waiting for on this year's team when the bombs went off. While I felt the sadness of the events of 4/15, I became keenly aware of the healing that has happened in my own life since I was a patient at Spaulding seven years ago

and the healing of these past five months since Marathon Monday.

I am able to take advantage of the Aquatics Therapy program at Spaulding to continue to find my strength and recover from paralytic polio and trauma experiencing a sense of integration and wholeness of mind, body and Spirit. Seven years ago when I walked through the doors of Spaulding's Framingham Outpatient Clinic for Post Polio, I thought that my life was ending -- and in a way it was --

And today I was blessed to experience the joy of my journey of transformation supporting a program that will help others to transform from a disabled person to a person of ability and strength.

The first poem I wrote after being diagnosed with post polio syndrome in the cold, dark winter of 2007 as I emerged from the dark night of my soul. The unconscious was preparing the way for me to run the Boston Marathon

Running the Race - Feb, 2007 - from the soon to be released A Celebration of Life
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.

My books of inspirational poetry are available on Amazon.

I am honored to be a guest on Michele Rosenthal of Heal My PTSD's show Change You Choose this Wednesday 9/11. You can listen to the show live by following this link.

No matter how hard we may try, the images of the terrorist attacks and the aftermath in both New York City and Boston are deeply ingrained in our minds. The suffering and loss will forever be part of each individual, their families, and - on a bigger scale - our entire country. However, remembering and commemorating does not mean that we need to focus on the tragedy itself. Instead, it is far more useful to focus on rebuilding; becoming stronger and more powerful as individuals, as families, as communities, and as a country.

This Wednesday, I will join Michele to discuss resilience after trauma and how each of us, whether directly or indirectly affected by a traumatic event, can find strength to not only move past what cannot be changed but overcome our own emotional and psychological barriers to healing.

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