"What distinguishes those of us at the starting line from those of us on the couch is that we learn through running to take what the days gives us, what our body will allow us, and what our will can tolerate." John "The Penguin" Bingham
It’s been 7½ years since I was diagnosed with post polio syndrome, a progressive neuromuscular disease. I am out of my leg brace, out of a wheelchair, running races. I don’t need a feeding tube and I don’t need a cpap machine at night to make sure I am getting enough oxygen. I have experienced a miracle of healing.
Sometimes I forget ... sometimes I forget that I live with a spinal cord injury and the late effects of paralytic polio. Sometimes I forget that I'm healing the injuries from 9 years of violence I lived through just three years after contracting paralytic polio until I was 17 years old.
And then I put together a schedule that includes two weeks of racing back to back, volunteering as part of support crew at the water stop at the Run to Remember, a six hour volunteer shift at the Runners World Race Expo, getting up early to be support crew for Tom's Five and Dime race (albeit I did provide support from home), supporting my daughter through her job search, running with Run Club two weeks in a row, getting up at 6:15 am for Aquatics Therapy, being support crew to Tom at L Street track ...
and I remember - I remember big time as my body reminds me in many ways that I need to take exquisite care of myself.
I did get 12 hours of sleep from Saturday to Sunday but then went out and raced in the evening. And cleaned the house and did laundry on Monday. I had a major slip in my recovery as a Type A personality. On a subtle level, I was back in my mode of having something to prove driven by the psychological remnants of polio and trauma.
Don't get me wrong. I thoroughly enjoyed myself with all of the events and the wonderful people I met. I'm glad that I challenged myself at the Father Bullock Charity Race. We had a wonderful time at the Halfway Cafe.
But as I look back on these past few days, I was slowly hitting the wall. I'm delighted I went out for a run Wednesday night with Run Club and I know it was the best thing I could have done for myself at the time.
But what would have served me better would have been to be more mindful of how I scheduled myself and the choices I was making. This is an ongoing challenge for me.
It’s funny how we have to learn the same soul lessons over and over again. Even though it seems like we are going around in a circle, we are spiraling ever upward in gaining clarity, understanding and finding a path of acceptance and peace.
I am just beginning to allow the seeds of compassion for myself to blossom and acknowledge how much effort it takes for me to run. I'm finding that delicate balance between training and challenging myself and not pushing too hard. Running is my medicine and like any medicine must be used wisely so that the maximum benefit is achieved.
Yesterday, during my massage treatment at Sollievo Massage and Bodywork, as I took time to unwind from the hectic pace of the last few weeks, I realized the devastating effects of polio and trauma on my body. I am more hopeful than ever on my healing journey with regular massage sessions that incorporate Zero Balancing as the sessions alleviate chronic pain, help to reset my nervous system and as I feel lighter and am no longer carrying the weight of all that happened to me. I feel more balanced and can breathe more deeply.
I am also keenly aware of the extent of my injuries and what I need to do to create an optimal healing environment. And that means setting goals and having a schedule that honors the process.
In order to heal you have to feel where you are hurt. And then bathe the wounds with the healing balms of compassion and loving kindness.
Nothing heals like a good old fashioned crying jag and when I got home after my session, I finally let my tears flow.
After the rain there's always a rainbow.
I had this wonderful realization that not only is there nothing for me to prove anymore, but, every time I step up to the starting line, I've won the race!
My memoir, "Coming Home: A Memoir of Healing, Hope and Possibility" is now available on Amazon.
"Wait, I have one more goal," Mary McManus told her personal trainer in February of 2008 shortly after coming out of her toe up leg brace. "I want to run the Boston Marathon for Spaulding Rehab Hospital." Mary traded in her polio shoes for running shoes and embarked on the journey of a lifetime. Mary McManus was at the height of her career as a VA social worker when she was told by her team at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital’s International Rehab Center for Polio in December of 2006 that she needed to quit her job if she had any hope of preventing the progression of post polio syndrome, a progressive neuromuscular disease. In “Coming Home: A Memoir of Healing, Hope and Possibility” Mary takes you on her seven year healing odyssey as a survivor of paralytic polio and trauma from her diagnosis, to taking a leap of faith to leave her award winning career at the VA to heal her life and follow her passion as a poet and writer. You’ll experience her trials, tribulations and triumphs as she trains for and crosses the finish line of the 2009 Boston Marathon and discovers the opportunity for healing in the wake of new trauma: the suicide of her nephew in 2011, and the aftermath of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings. This is Mary's journey of coming home to her human form free from the influences of the ghastly ghostly invaders who had invaded her sacred earthly home. Her memoir includes journals and blog posts from her seven year healing odyssey. This is her journey of transformation and her message of healing, hope and possibility.
I donate 50% of royalty payments through on line sales to The One Fund to help Boston Marathon survivors and their families. Copies are also available at Brookline Marathon Sports. $5 of each book sold at Marathon Sports is donated to The One Fund.