So I did a big thing. Well maybe not so big to you but to me equivalent to climbing a mountain…..
I made this new friend in my Physiology class this year and she is like #FriendGoals. This girl let me just tell you, I look at her and think “Um hello yes, why haven’t you been around my entire life? Why are we just now meeting?!?!” Her name is Julia. And when I say she is goals I don’t just mean like on the outside but side note, this does apply to her too because she is gorgeous, has the best style, and eyebrows I envy (I’ve got a thing for eyebrows and Jules has some great eyebrows!) but I mean on the inside too. She is strong in her faith, she knows who she is, and what she deserves, and well she just has her life together. (She might not agree or see herself as all of these things but when I think of Julia this is what I see.) She’s just #FriendGoals, okay?!?
Any-who when my new Physio BFF asked me if I wanted to do the Drumstick Dash with her (a 5-K on the day of Thanksgiving) I couldn’t say no, because well she’s my new friend, and friends do these types of things with each other…..right?
I’ve never explained the long story to Julia about my accident, I mention it in bits and pieces but I’ve never given her the real low down, low down. So yeah, I did a big thing, and now I am having some real big fears….
-One being that I haven’t ran an actual 5-K since my accident
-Two being that the words ‘Running’ and ‘Merideth’ don’t really go well together anymore. They used to, but not anymore.
-Three being that this Drumstick Dash is in 10 days…..10 DAYS PEOPLE!
Now to most this isn’t a big deal what’s 2+ miles anyway? That’s easy-peasy, that’s a stroll through the neighborhood, that’s a walk through the park! But to me….to me that is a MARATHON. That is a MOUNTAIN. That is HORROR, and FEAR, and OH MY LANTA WHAT DID I AGREE TO????
Where was my brain at when I said “sure!” like it was nothing? CLEARLY IT WASN’T LISTENING RIGHT! Instead did I hear “Do you want to go to target?” Because the answer to that is “sure!”, but to RUNNING, and more than to the mailbox? The answer to that should have been, ‘I’d rather eat the Thanksgiving pie for breakfast’.
So here I am 10 days our from what could potentially be my last day on earth. Okay you’re right that was a little dramatic but bear with me.
I grew up running. In fact I probably came running out of my mother’s womb the day I was born. I am a ‘Need-For-Speed’ kind of girl. I ran 5-K’s in elementary school kids, like we are talking 4th grade Mer, she ran 5-k’s, and no that is not an exaggeration that is an actual fact. My mom was the leader of the ‘Running Club’ in elementary school. I was a runner y’all, I was legit. I used to run for fun. And not around the playground, but like miles, FOR FUN.
And then my accident happened.
Running was no longer fun anymore. Running was hard. For a while Running was IMPOSSIBLE. I could barely walk to the mailbox. I could not run.
I am capable of running now. But I have yet to run a distance farther than a mile since my accident. And it’s not a breezy mile either. It’s a ‘oh crap why did I think this was a good idea’ mile. It’s a ‘my lungs are on fire, my legs are jell-o, I can see the light, I am going to the light’ mile. And it is not the 7.5 minute mile I once had, oh no it is a 15 minute mile, ON A GOOD DAY.
So somebody PLEASE for the love of all things good and holy PLEASE tell me why I said ‘sure!’???
There are not many things in life anymore in which I compare myself to my healthy peers. I am at a point where I am able to do just about anything my peers are able to do.
One of the very few things I capability wise do not compare to my peers, I agreed to do.
Now I told myself this morning when I woke up and realized the ‘Dash’ was 10 days away that I needed to be in the gym everyday for the next 10 days or else I either won’t make it to the finish line, or I will make it there and then have a heart attack. I know very well I will not go to the gym every day for the next 10 days. I might go 3 out of the next 10 days and if I’m feeling extra motivated maybe 5 of the next 10 days.
See the funny thing is I’ve been speaking to a lot of college and graduate lecture classes recently on POTS. I usually tell my story and then do an information portion on POTS. Depending on the level of the class I grasp the extent of the medical knowledge and terminology I will use. If it’s a freshman lecture I try to stick to the basics, to explain things in the easiest of ways. However if it’s a graduate class I know I can use more medical terminology and describe things more in depth. Last week I was speaking to a class of primarily freshmen and sophomores. When I’m done speaking i always open up the floor to questions. I got a question I have yet to receive before:
“Do you have to maintain a certain lifestyle in terms of activeness with a diagnosis of POTS?” it was somewhere along those lines. – Basically she asked if I need to be more active in order to stay healthy while living with POTS.
I clenched my teeth, and bit my tongue. I thought of ways to avoid answering the question but still managing to provide her with an answer that would seem to satisfy her question, while also continuing to make me look like a model POTS patient.
And then I opened my mouth and said: “I should, but I don’t.” I went on to explain that in order for patients with POTS to experience the maximum improvement in symptoms and overall well-being it is extremely important they maintain an active lifestyle. Exercising is key to improvement. The less a POTS patient exercises the more physically drained they are going to feel. I explained that it is difficult for POTS patients to exercise because they often feel more fatigued as a result of it or have a harder time doing the activities but that in the long run they are more likely to have an increased stamina and improvement in their overall wellbeing. I then looked into the audience and said, ‘this is an area in my recovery/treatment that I don’t do so well at’, I embarrassingly grinned while I told them that maybe every other month or two I run a mile, and that I tell myself I don’t need to exercise because I lift patients and pull heavy things at work, and then I laughed and told them that really isn’t entirely true because I often leave the heavy lifting to the firefighters on both sides of me, and that with the push of a button I can load my patient into the ambulance all by myself without having to lift a thing.
The fact of the matter is that I don’t take care of myself in all aspects of my treatment. I excel in some areas and am a model POTS patient in some, such as getting adequate rest, and drinking lots of water. But I fail miserably in others, like staying physically active.
We can’t all be model patients, and I know that. I work with the way below model patients everyday, and I usually commend myself for taking good care of myself so that I don’t end up like many of my patients, who for a handful of reasons have not taken the proper care they need to for themselves. I don’t need to be a model patient, but I do need to do better, I should want to do better. I should feel a drive to take better care of myself, so that I am in return able to provide my absolute best care to my patients.
I don’t run, or at least I haven’t run in a long time, but maybe now is the time. Maybe my spur of the moment ‘sure!’ was the universe nudging me in the direction of running, so that I can better myself.
Believe me, I want to love running like I used to, to have it as a weapon to release any emotions I choose. I miss being able to run for miles and miles in whatever direction I choose.
Julia doesn’t know all of the hardships that have brought me to this day. But at the same time I don’t know hers. She might not know all the emotion that crossing the finish line will hold, all the work that has gone into making it possible for me to even run, or in my situation slow jog. But that’s okay. Not everybody has to know, this is my journey, this is my bettering of myself.
I’m thankful for my new friend, and her encouragement to help me do something that may have me shaking at my knees, but what ultimately will mean a better me.