Saturday, February 26, 2022

Rest and Hope - My Favorite 4 Letter Words

 

For the past two years during the pandemic, I've been doing 3 5K's a week and two days of strength training. I missed getting into a pool but took great pride of the strength and well-being I experienced. Being outdoors whatever the weather, breathing in fresh air and experiencing sunshine during winter and running by the ocean in summer helped us to navigate the pandemic. Thursday and Friday were my rest days.

With Tom and Ruth Anne training for the Providence Marathon, I wasn't taking two rest days together. I was doing my 5K's at 6am once a week, often times on slushy roads. I wasn't taking time to recover after my 5K runs because I was support crew for Tom and Ruth Anne. I forgot to "put on my own oxygen mask first." My runs were getting more sluggish and I experienced more joint pain and muscle spasms. I ignored the early signs of what was happening in my body having been so caught up in the thrill of Ruth Anne and Tom's journey on the Road to Providence to raise money and awareness for Victory Programs. I had also increased my strength training. I decided to curtail the increase in reps and weights hoping that adjustment would be all that was needed.

Two weeks ago my body said, "Okay. That's enough." There was no way I could continue to push myself. Fortunately I stopped before I experienced a major injury. I listened to the level of discomfort I experienced and made the necessary changes. I practiced more self-care including stretching using a strap, a ball to roll out my feet and my massage stick taking time out during the day to care for myself mind, body and soul. I intensified my meditation practice and once again harnessed the power of the mind/body connection to heal the inflammation, increase fluidity in my joints and return to a feeling of ease in my body. I know and trust my body's tremendous capacity to heal as I have worked with my body for the past 15 years to achieve what some would say are impossible goals and heal what some would say could only be healed with surgery by harnessing the power of the mind/body connection.

I talked with Tom and Ruth Anne about the adjustments we needed to make to take off some of the stress on me while they trained and fund raised for Providence. I talked with myself about adjusting my response to their training and making sure that I was taking better care of myself. I reflected on how I was pushing myself especially with hills. Because of a preponderance of ice and snow, we had to run around our neighborhood. There is no way to avoid the incline that starts at the end of our street. I was getting tired of doing the same route over and over and over again. I took a turn up a hill we used when we trained for the 2009 Boston Marathon. File that under what was I thinking! I wasn't and it was after that run that I realized I had gone too far. I pushed myself through one more 5K after that run (old habits die hard) before realizing enough was enough for now.

I continued strength training incorporating a lot of stretching into the program. I gave myself permission to take time off from my 5K's. Starting tomorrow I will go back to basics and go out for a one mile walk while Tom and Ruth Anne get in their 15 miles. I'll see how I feel and figure out a plan from there. I had to silence what the medical community told me as a survivor of paralytic polio as I felt tired and sluggish in my body with muscle spasms and difficulty going up and down stairs. Fifteen years ago they told me that Post Polio Syndrome was a progressive neuromuscular disease and I should prepare to spend the rest of my life in a wheelchair. Instead, I recalled this Op-Ed that the doctor who took care of me after I contracted polio wrote when I was doing research for my Trilogy of Transformation:

Caution and Hope On Polio 'Signs'
Published: March 3, 1985
I read with interest the article entitled ''A Group for Polio Survivors Who Have New Symptoms'' (Feb. 10).

Having supervised the rehabilitation of poliomyelitis patients at Grasslands Hospital during the epidemics of the 50's and 60's, probably including the ''then'' infants mentioned in the article, I would like to add a word of caution and even hope as an afterthought.

Firstly, there is no reason to suspect deterioration in the nerve cells in the spinal cord. After 30 years, one must accept some loss of endurance, increased fatigue and even some discomfort induced by other unrelated medical problems. This is true in the athlete with repeated injuries, in the obese person with back problems and even in the jogger with foot ailments.

Any individual with paralytic disability in an extremity will experience the normal process of ''wear and tear'' except that it may be more difficult to adjust to it. Just as one learned to compensate for the initial impairment so must one adjust to the later, more subtle changes rather than develop an emotional hang up of being a ''polio victim.'' ~EUGENE MOSKOWITZ, M.D. Mount Vernon

One of the things I kept hearing after receiving the diagnosis of Post-Polio Syndrome was "we don't want to give you false hope."

 False hope? Is there really such a thing?
 
Unfortunately there are many in the medical community who believe there is such a thing as false hope and hope to many in Western Medicine is a four letter word.I could have easily succumbed to the diagnosis and prognosis I was given in December of 2006 but somehow I was able to muster the courage to do what I'd done ever since I was 5 years old and open myself to Divine Guidance and a touch of grace.

Instead of returning to the Post-Polio Clinic as I had after a knee injury in December of 2014, I turned to myself, the Divine and my loved ones to get back on track. I had to embody my healed self. Old trauma wounds surfaced and I embodied myself as the powerful, glorious woman I have become since the diagnosis of Post Polio Syndrome. I had fleeting moments wondering if perhaps my body had MS or Parkinson's and reminded myself that the body achieves what the mind believes. I used Emile Coue's mantra of "Every day in every way I am better and better." I felt compassion and kindness for myself realizing that the symptoms I experienced were the perfect storm of two years of COVID, the changes that came with Tom and Ruth Anne's marathon training, Tom starting a new contract job, Ruth Anne looking for a job, and not paying attention to what my body was telling me. As is always true, it's not the stress itself that is important but how I choose to respond to it. Everything was weighing me down. I briefly became victim and martyr.

I am back on track with self-care, finding ease and grace in my body again, revisiting trauma wounds that needed deeper healing and continue to be in awe of what happens when I connect to Source. As Dr. Joe Dispenza said when he was healing his fractured vertebrae, "The power that made the body, heals the body." 

I have rediscovered my love for rest and hope. The seeds of healing are bearing fruit. I am excited to feel a wonderful blossoming of mind, body and soul as Spring moves into Boston. I am grateful to my body for the symptoms that led me back to Source and back to myself. 

From my heart to yours,

In health and wellness,

Mary

Be sure to visit my website at https://marymcmanus.com to learn about my journey to health and wellness in the wake of paralytic polio and trauma

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