"Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life's coming attractions." - Albert Einstein
Before the painful physical therapy sessions with my beloved physical therapist, Miss Holly, she had me choose a Dr. Seuss book to read together. During the sessions, she would recite The Cat in the Hat or "Grinchie" as I called him and would have me fill in the blanks to keep me distracted from the pain of the sessions that were necessary to help me regain mobility after contracting paralytic polio at age 5.
After being diagnosed with post polio syndrome, a progressive neurological disease in December of 2006, I faced a grim future to say the least and wasn't sure if I even had a future.
In February of 2007 during the darkest night of my soul and body, I sat down and prayed.
Here was my answer
Running the Race - Feb, 2007
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.
The healing cadence of Dr. Seuss returned to me only now I was the one holding the pen.
Soon poems filled with visions of dancing, feeling whole and healed, being grateful for all that was with no expectation of any particular outcome poured out of me.
And shortly after coming out of my toe up leg brace, using a cane and at times a wheelchair for mobility, completing my course of outpatient therapy at Spaulding Rehab and hiring a personal trainer, I declared, (from my memoir, Coming Home: A Memoir of Healing Hope and Possibility available on Amazon
“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 non-plussed. 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.
During my training for the Boston Marathon, I wrote a series of 13 poems which harnessed the power of visualization to get me through those miles and to the finish line along with my personal trainer, phenomenal coach and having my husband and daughter by my side.
Even though I don't have another marathon to run, I feel so blessed and grateful to be a part of the vibrant and thriving running community in Boston. I'm training for the Tufts 10K which I have not run in 3 years. No matter what I am able to run and even when I wasn't able to run, my runner friends have always been there for me. I'm so grateful to Miss Holly for her wisdom to introduce me to the wisdom and healing cadence of Dr. Seuss that opened the door to my imagination to visualize myself running a race.
I feel my healthiest and happiest when I run!