but tomorrow at 1:30 pm, I am going to the Weingarten Adaptive Sports Program at Spaulding Rehab Hospital to cycle outdoors.
I remember the sadness and frustration at watching my brother and all the neighborhood kids riding effortlessly through the neighborhood in Westchester, New York. I had a stationery bike that I used for therapy to help me gain strength and mobility after contracting paralytic polio at the age of 5. From the sidewalk in front of our garden apartment, I could watch them ride up and down Oregon Avenue ignoring me as though I didn't even exist. I knew what I had to do to recover and even then I was fierce in my own way.
As I wrote in my poem "Running the Race" shortly after being diagnosed with post polio syndrome.
Called one of the lucky ones, I had a mild case
but with the other athletes I could never keep their pace....
I wonder how many of those neighborhood kids who left me in the dust went on to run the Boston Marathon .... just sayin'!
Through the Aquatics program at Spaulding, I have been able to build strength in mind, body and Spirit. I decided to take the plunge so to speak and try something new to challenge myself. I am finding a new sense of confidence in my mind/body. Although along with this sense of confidence that propels me forward to try something new, a part of me is anxious.
I hear my younger self asking all sorts of questions and feeling butterflies as I embark on this adventure. I speak lovingly and with compassion to her letting her know that yes all of that happened. It was painful. Sad. Scary.
And as those emotions move through me, in their wake, I feel that wonderful excitement stirring in my soul. The joy of freedom. Feeling deeply grateful that I have access to the Weingarten Adaptive Sports program where trained therapists will be there to provide support and guidance. The beautiful setting of the Spaulding Campus in the Charlestown Navy Yard.
So even though I never learned to ride a bike, at 60 years old, I'm going to be going for my first bike ride!
"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.