Members of Team SJS just minutes before the start of the 2010 Fox Cities Half Marathon!

Friday, May 28, 2010

For me, this is a big deal!

So it's the end of training month #5! I have been running 3-4 times a week since January trying to figure out if I have the ability and the will to pound the pavement for 13.1 miles! Scary thing is, as I get closer to race day, the less prepared I feel and am ready to just throw in the towel. But for some reason, I can't seem to wrap my head around not doing this race.

It's not like it's a race affiliated with SJS, it's just a local marathon that my family and friends have participated in over the years. There's nothing overly special about this one, other than it is very well organized and it's accessibility is perfect. We know which mile markers to go to in order to see people along the course and cheer them on. We know where to park so we can get out easily and still make it to the finish to see whomever it is huffing and puffing cross the line. It's an annual event for this family.

I told you yesterday that I would come back and tell you about my SJS story. Well, this part of the story is about a year and 9 months ago when I was finally off of the sedation and getting ready to go home. You see, I was in a medically enduced coma for nearly 3 months while I was on the burn unit. I wasn't moving around other than rolling over for the nurses that would change the bandages over my entire body; a process that happened twice a day and took 3-4 hours from beginning to end. So other than that, my body didn't move. If I had slouched down too far in my bed, the nurses would have to come in and lift me up by the sheet and reposition me. I couldn't do it by myself - didn't have the strength. I was on a feeding tube and had lost a lot of weight, including muscle mass that I would need to eventually walk again.

I remember the first time they tried to stand me up! The PT and nurses had to first get me to sit up on the edge of the bed. You never know how often you use those abdominal muscles until you're in a situation like that! And then, after a few minutes of catching my breath from just sitting up, they grabbed me around the middle and tried to lift me to a stand. I remember screaming because the blood had rushed to my feet and the pain was so incredible. I don't even know how to describe it, I'd never felt anything like that before. And then they were telling me to push up, stand up. I thought I was, I thought I was standing and all I had done was barely lifted my ass off of the bed! Well, what the hell? Seriously? I have to do more? SHIT! This is too much work! And why in the hell are my legs not listening to me? Why are the failing me? Oh my God, what is wrong with my legs?

We worked on it everyday for several weeks and I had finally gotten to the point that I could stand up with assistance and walk using a walker. A very slow, deliberate, painful walk. I had nerve damage in my feet that was so bad, it felt like pins and needles all of the time. I would get shooting pains in my toes and would NEVER let anyone touch them. By this time, my pretty pink painted toenails had fallen off and I was left with ugly feet! I had to learn to do stairs again before I left the hospital because my house has stairs. Physical therapy would continue three times a week for months in order to deal with the atrophy that had taken over my entire body. I wondered how normal I would ever be again.

It didn't matter that I had trained for so long and so hard before my illness - the triathlons, duathlons and runs meant nothing. There was no muscle left from all of that work! I would have to start over - and when I say over, I really mean from before the beginning! I wasn't starting from Zero, I was starting from a negative!

I started by walking with the walker around the burn unit. When I got home and had graduated from the walker to a cane, I began walking on a treadmill for 2-3 minutes at a time. Balance was a serious challenge for me, but I walked every day and grew stronger every day. And then, early one morning I walked my first mile on that dang dreadmill!!

Over the winter months, I began trying to run on the treadmill. I worked so hard at it, that by the time the one year anniversary of my hospital release date - I consider it to be a second birthday - I had signed up for a 5k run. Although running on the concrete still felt like running on sand, I knew I was going to run those 3.1 miles and I was going to finish. It was an emotional day, to say the least.

So now, here I am, still training and working hard at reaching that next goal - the half marathon! Maybe next year it'll be the real deal! The whole kit and kaboodle! Who knows, I think just maybe the sky's the limit!

By the way, I signed off yesterday and ran those 3 miles I was supposed to run but didn't want to! This weekend, I have to face the first 5 mile training run I have done since being sick! I'm a little anxious over that, but we'll see! I'll keep you posted!

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