Why Does Having A Traumatic Illness Make You Want To Run A Marathon?

Before I get into me, let me share that I have a dear friend who had to learn how to walk again just as her firstborn was also testing her sea legs. She had a tumor that was integrated into her spine. Despite all odds, she ended up running a marathon (multiple, in fact). And I just read in Oprah magazine about a young woman in her late 30s who ended up having a stroke. Within a year of the doctor telling her potentially she would be dead, she ran her marathon on Staten Island.

I had two brain surgeries. I went from initially being diagnosed as having stage 4 lung cancer to a rare, rare bacterial infection. I almost lost my life at least twice. Both of my docs, a neurologist and an infectious disease gent, I feel just cross their fingers that they get my medication correct as neither of them nor anybody else has ever had this infection go to their brain. Luckily, after brain surgery number two, as well as a decisive culture (finally), everything seems to be on the up and up.

Don’t get me wrong, parts of this have blown big chunks, but I understand the bigger picture. Like the two marathoners I speak of, we are all type A personalities. I am a meditation/mindful instructor and know that before this infection I had come a long way baby but... apparently not far enough. I needed something to put me literally on my ass to make me slow down. Not that this is what I would have consciously chosen, however it has given me a totally expanded my outlook on life, specifically my life.

I was the girl who exercised 3-4 times a week and have done so since I was 18 (I am currently 47). Before I had kids, I probably was at the gym five days a week, plus I was a workout instructor. Friends say “I eat bark” which really means I eat a variety of things that many people won’t, that I try to eat mostly organic but it doesn’t mean I don’t eat Haagen Daz, or Ruffles or other yummy “not-good-for-you” thangs. I have fasted for 7 days having nothing but water. I was a vegetarian for four years just because I had no desire to eat meat. You know what I do for a living. Every time my blood pressure was taken at hospital everyone commented how good it was. Anyway, you get the drift.

It would be in my mental makeup to want, to desire, to push myself to exercise. To make my body strong like it used to be. To be better as soon as possible. To sweat. To work it all out.

But, I really listen to my body now. What a concept? And, the funny thing, I thought I was. Turns out... I was really super duper at ignoring many of its true wishes. Now it says to take it day-by-day and not to rush. Oh my, this is so challenging. No marathon? Seriously?!?

Today, I just went to walk for the first time on my treadmill. It was the first time in months I really sweated (besides the wet, gross side effects from having my head worked on). I felt satisfied, but I must admit that it feels super delicious to give myself a break. I feel my body in a “weakened” state and, I realize, that I am not only ok and even (giggle) sometimes I am actually happy. Now, this is my story... I’m not saying that it wasn’t important for the women at the beginning of this article. It did make me think, though.

Now I ask myself constantly, am I truly mindful? Because of this illness I literally, at times, felt I had no choice but to be uber conscious of my body and mind. I know I will return to “normal” although everyone says it will be my “new normal.” I am impatient yet excited and am doing my best to enjoy the journey.

Soooo, you will not see me racing my heart out to cross any sort of finish line, but you will probably see me in a couple of months doing yoga. At my own pace. Probably not as groovy as I used to do it. But, doing it.

As Americans we love an inspiring, good fight story. Hopefully, I have given you a good, let-it-go story.

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