Shortly after being diagnosed with post polio syndrome, I realized that I was at a crossroads in my life. Would I continue to live my life as a hamster in a wheel, trying to get through each day, feeling betrayed by my body and just waiting for it all to end OR would I begin to see my life, my challenges as gifts and be grateful.
It wasn't easy to make the shift and I still have my days where sadness flows as I realize what happened to me.
Once I shifted to feeling gratitude in my heart and seeing the challenges as blessings, my life began to change; my heart and body began to heal.
Gratitude is a part of my daily meditation. Sometimes I allow myself to have a good old fashioned pity party and then my heart, soul and mind shift to focusing on ALL I have to be grateful for. I am grateful for meditation that keeps bringing me back to the moment, to understand what keeps me from choosing love and move on to practice loving kindness and compassion for myself and sending it out into the world so desperately in need of healing.
One of the things I am especially grateful for is that I take nothing for granted. Something as simple as putting on my shorts or a pair of pants takes mindfulness as I challenge myself to move out of the habitual ways of doing things that result in overuse, injury and imbalance. I feel a sense of joy and gratitude when I am able to accomplish this seemingly simple feat.
This staycation time with my husband has been precious. I enjoy and savor each moment we have together. Sometimes it's time spent in meditation or reading; cleaning up the yard together or even being together as we put out the trash and recycling which is usually a hurried activity the night before trash day. While we are in our early 60's and despite living with PPS, we are in excellent health, I know that life can change on a dime.
I know how lucky I am to be able to run! Every time I get out there I feel gratitude rush through me. Whether the run is a PR kind of run or one that I slog through to get in the miles, I appreciate the freedom, the health and well being that enables me to continue to run. I am blessed by the running community that embraces me and that I have a partner who goes out with me to train for the Tufts 10K.
I am blessed with healing resources. The Aquatics Therapy classes at Spaulding Rehab has been a game changer in my healing journey. It's been almost a year now since I started the program. I am building strength, balance, coordination and confidence. Part of my confidence is that no matter what may happen, I will always be led to exactly what I need when I need it.
On March 20, I walked through the doors of Sollievo Massage and Bodywork. The 90 minutes of weekly massage therapy that incorporates Zero Balancing into the work is supporting my intention to heal and recover from paralytic polio and violence; intentions I first set forth in my poetry.
How amazing that as I sat in a leg brace, using a wheelchair at times for mobility and feeling the worst I have ever felt in my life that the gift of poetry blossomed in my soul. My pen continues to become my divining rod for healing, joy and allowing gratitude to flow.
I have a beautiful, loving, supportive group of friends on Facebook and IRL or in real life as the kids like to say. I scroll through my Facebook feed and see posts about gratitude, the joy of children; inspirational quotes and inspirational stories abound.
I am blessed that I have survived - and now thrive living as full and vibrant a life as I possibly can. I am thankful and I take nothing for granted.
To read more about my journey after being diagnosed with post polio syndrome in December of 2006 ----
"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.