Tom and I sat outside on the beautiful patio overlooking Boston Harbor before Spaulding Rehab Aquatics Therapy class. A woman wearing a Falmouth Road Race volunteer t shirt comes wheeling by us announcing, "This is the first day I've been able to do this by myself. God is so good." She opened her arms to the sunlit sky. She shared with us her story of two knee replacements that resulted in severe infections that led to an above the knee amputation. She has been in and out of the hospital and rehab for the past year. She told us she has her pity party time but that she knows how lucky she is. I gave her my business card and hope she gets in touch with me. She is a warrior in every sense of the word. What a magical moment to meet her after writing my blog yesterday about being thankful and taking nothing for granted. We exchanged hugs as she went on her way, the embodiment of faith, gratitude and spreading a message of healing, hope and possibility despite all appearances. She sees a world filled with possibility for competing in hand cycling events and adaptive sports through Spaulding. She is even considering running once she is able to wear a high tech prosthetic leg which is the goal for her. I told her how I lost use of my right arm for 6 months after a staph infection. I told her it's a lot of hard work as she knows but you can regain muscle strength. I told her about my 2009 Boston Marathon run.
What a blessing that Tom and I could share the class together. He was able to get in a good cross training workout in preparation for tomorrow's Marathon Sports 5 Miler. I continued to work to build strength and I dedicated my workout to the woman we met who was wheeling her way around the Spaulding campus celebrating her life and her freedom.
It was a small class. Our therapist led us through an intense cardio workoout. I could feel her energy and intention for each of us to find our strength. I challenged myself by going into the deeper water. Tom told me after class he was amazed at my focus and dedication to building strength.
It's not all work and no play though. Our therapist suggested that, after we balanced and walked on the noodle in the shallow end of the pool
that we attempt standing on the noodle and then, with legs together, pump the noodle up and down.
It was a delightful challenge that resulted in experiencing a sense of play as I'd lose my balance, have my noodle pop up to the surface and I'd go under water.
It's so wonderful to be able to challenge myself in a safe, aquatic environment and to unleash a sense of play and freedom. I was able to find my balance and do 5 leg push ups. Now that's what I call using your noodle! I wanted to keep trying it over and over again but it was time to cool down and stretch.
As I mentioned in yesterday's blog post, there are times that I have a pity party. Sometimes it is so difficult to live with the late effects of paralytic polio and yet it is my path and one I wouldn't (or couldn't) trade for the world. I wouldn't have the opportunity to meet the most amazing, magical, inspiring people that I get to meet on this journey.
Everyday I give thanks that Spaulding Rehab is a part of my journey that takes me to higher and higher ground in my healing.
To read more about my journey after being diagnosed with post polio syndrome in December of 2006 at Spaulding Rehab's International Rehab Center for Polio ----
"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.