Friday, May 6, 2022

I Still Remember....

As I prepare to celebrate the 15th anniversary of when I took a leap of faith from my award winning career as a VA social worker to heal my life from the effects of paralytic polio and trauma, I was moved to remember the days I prayed for the blessings I now have in my life.

I've never been a pedicure kind of gal and one of the things I asked my then physical therapist, Allison Poole, was how I could cut my own toenails. I was so stiff and deconditioned that I couldn't use a toe nail clipper to cut my own toenails! This morning I felt my heart open in gratitude for being able to do this simple act. In 2007, this was no simple act for me to perform.

My bathroom had a tub seat because I was unable to stand in the shower without fatigue. I had a toe up leg brace to support the atrophied muscles in my left leg.


 


Tom would help me attach the brace to my shoes.



I hugged the banister to walk from the first floor of my house and would limit the number of trips I made from the first to the second floor. My family did the laundry because it was too much for me to walk downstairs to the basement. We used PeaPod for grocery delivery. I wore a wrist splint to manage the symptoms of carpel tunnel syndrome. Although I implemented strategies for energy conservation at work, I was tired ALL THE TIME. No matter how much sleep I got, I was exhausted all the time. It was a classic case of burnout not knowing how to practice self-care as I cared for veterans and their families and my family.

In February of 2007, after having been given the diagnosis of a progressive neuromuscular disease the previous December, I realized I was at a crossroads in my life. I got still. As I did whenever faced with dire circumstances in my life, I asked for Divine Guidance. The poem, "Running the Race" poured out of me and, despite the dire diagnosis and prognosis, my heart opened to gratitude.

"...Using wheelchair to travel, set limits on what I could do
resulted in joy to realize I could live life anew.
Celebrated my body-creaks, groans and need for a brace
while in my mind I focused on winning a 10K race.

I'm now off the sidelines, no need to sit and whine
so much gratitude fills my heart and love and beauty shine.
After all these years I can join the loving human race
I exceed all expectations and now I set the pace."

Partnering with Allison at Spaulding Rehab, I believed I was no longer destined  to spend the rest of my life in a wheelchair, nor was it a foregone conclusion that I would experience an accelerated aging process as a result of the paralytic polio I contracted as a child. Poetry inspired me to heal mind, body and soul while working with Allison to heal the breach in my mind/body connection. Using a biofeedback machine she showed me the physical stress of my job at the VA. We asked the VA to order adaptive equipment for me to diminish the physical stress because I was determined to work for 3 more years until I was eligible for retirement. The Universe clearly had other plans for me. 

After an abnormal mammogram, I focused my energies on dissolving the lump in my breast and realized it was time to leave my award winning career. When I returned for a repeat mammogram, the lump was no longer there! They said that it must have been a mistake on the original film but after receiving the call that they needed to repeat the film, I felt the lump, knew it was no mistake and the Universe saying "This is your wake up call!" When I received the all clear, Ruth Anne said what are you waiting for? We chose the date 5/25 as my last day at the VA. I gave my 6 weeks notice and while feeling terrified at what I was about to do, I could feel the healing happening every day in mind, body and soul.

At 68 years old I feel fantastic. I can go to the grocery store, exercise 5 days a week, walk up and down stairs with ease, get a good night's sleep on most nights and wake up feeling energized and ready to greet the day. I take time for meditation and self-care. I practice an attitude of gratitude knowing how blessed I am with this miracle of healing. I have a powerful message of healing, hope and possibility to share as a 2009 Boston Marathon finisher, and a woman who took a leap of faith to heal and transform her life. It is my fervent hope and prayer that my journey can give hope to those dealing with Long COVID. The symptoms of Post-Polio Syndrome and Long COVID are eerily similar.


 

This morning I smiled after I cut my toenails and my heart swelled with gratitude. I still remember the days I prayed for the blessings I have now.

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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