There was a time in my life that every time I faced some bad news I would say “At least it’s not…fill in the blank.” And life kept filling in the blank. I stopped using that sentence as coping mechanism, because it became a painful foreshadowing.
So three years ago, when a medical test sent me to my couch for the day I decided to take it as the opportunity to watch a long list of sad stories with a large bag of chocolate. I figured that watching other people’s pain would help me see my life’s blessings. I started with some Dr. Phil and giggled at those amateurs. I moved to a cancer movie with Joseph Gordon-Levitt. When he used his disease to pick up ladies, I didn’t laugh. He ended up in a great relationship with a gorgeous girlfriend and his family came together as a team to support him. The pinnacle was when I watched the Piano and started to cry when I realized that this Holocaust victim had a talent and hope for the future, that I couldn’t see for my own.
When you spend a day watching sad movies and can’t find a storyline as difficult as your life it can be eye-opening. I decided to write my own happy ending with my life’s new screenplay and had to stop waiting for my wishes to come true. My three years was a long painful uphill battle, but it felt like it was working.
In September, I came out of running retirement for my niece, Callie, and the foundation that will save children with her disease. A disease in the same family as my MS. The run was challenging because of the distance and the unique humidity. It was poetic that an invisible obstacle weighed me down. My shoes and clothes became a weight that the world couldn’t see but it impacted every one of my steps. I remember feeling like that humidity was similar to the white matter disease that changed the course of my life three years ago. My shoes were so wet it took days to dry and there was never a drop of rain that day.
It was an emotional journey and with every step, I changed. I started the run with a sprint and by the end, there was no gas left in my tank. We were writing our own happy ending that day and sometimes that takes everything you have and even the hidden reserves. My damaged spine and sick legs helped me raise over $6,000 in 88 days and carried me for 13.1 miles. It wasn’t my fastest run but it was the most effort, because of my niece and the money we raised. It was those quiet notes and gentle hugs from my new community. Those lovely people that made sure I crushed my fundraising goal. Those beautiful people that helped me write a new happy ending. My happy ending did not grant me any of the wishes that I dreamed of on that couch. Callie is not cured and I can’t visit with my dad in this new reality. My happy ending has a new landscape filled with new characters and some of the best original characters.
Many people were worried how the training and run might take a toll on my health. I admit it was in the back of mind. I was worried the extra physical stress would lead to a flare up. I had a stressful summer managing my daughters, working and training. My hair was not brushed during this time and I was close to having dreadlocks.
After my run, I missed my regular six-month neurology appointment because of my commitment to the fundraiser. I was able to schedule a new appointment right away and I had a doctors appointment that seemed unimaginable from that couch. My husband, doctors and I were giddy with the results. The young fellow took notes about my recent half marathon and was shocked with my time. He tried to do the math and asked if I ran a 10-minute mile. When I told him it was around an 8:30-minute mile, he was shocked. I passed every physical test with flying colors. I felt like a gifted Kindergartner reading Harry Potter in front of the class on the first day of school. The fellow referred to my disease as subtle and my husband joked that was the only subtle thing about me. My husband and I celebrated our hard work over a quiet cup of tea and cookie. It was a great day that I won’t soon forget.
Soon after during a short celebration, I had an unimaginable stressor pop-up in my life. And in one day my legs didn’t work. I didn’t sleep well and had a hard time walking the next day. Those legs that carried me for 13.1 miles and helped me raise money, stopped working. MS is a mystery, but for me it became clear.
It took me a long time to get back on track. I followed some simple rules to rediscover my happy ending.
Eliminate Stress – I utilize “block caller” on my iPhone. I go for a run or yoga class when I need a mental break from life. I ignore obligations and make selfish choices.
Nutrition- This one is tough to get started but easy when I am in entrenched in the plan. No processed food, no artificial sweeteners, no dairy, lots of water, healthy fats, and food tracking.
Workouts- I committed to moving every day. My plan for fitness is a priority in my life. Moving when my body hurts is counterintuitive but it works.