Sunday, December 07, 2008

Beautiful Sunday Morning

I am going to go out and run this morning for the first time in 10 days.  I just have not felt like running and it has been very disconcerting to me.  Running is my therapy.  Some physical therapy, but mainly psychotherapeutic.  

As a person who suffers from chronic pain, running is not only helpful for the pain, but it helps me to feel that I am not a helpless victim.   About 15 years ago, when I first started experiencing pain in my neck, my doctor ordered an x-ray.  He was incredulous when he saw the extent of the damage to my spine, and, of course, asked what the hell happened to my back.  He was also a recovering alcoholic and a friend, so we just looked at each other, and then he realized that he knew. The things that alcoholics do:   Too many car accidents to count;  One or two abusive husbands;  Falls that I don't even remember.   My doctor gravely told me that I would be in pain for the rest of my life.  Well, I knew that.  

I had surgery on my cervical spine in 1999.  I have three fused vertebrae, bone grafts, titanium rods.  My range of motion is virtually non-existent.  A year later I was back in my doctor's office (a different doctor than my friend) complaining of pain lower down my spine.  He point blank told me that I already had one failed back surgery and that I needed to figure out my own solution because their solution was more surgery.  That was an eye-opener.  I went and got a gym membership and started working out.  

In 2003, I started running.  I had run when I was young, but was later told I would never run again because of the back problems.  I started running by walking one mile up a hill, turning around and running for 5 minutes - downhill.  I thought I would die.  But after a while, it became 10 minutes.  Then I knew if I could run for 10 minutes, I could run a mile.   I started running a mile every other morning.  Then it became a mile and a half.  Then I signed up for a triathlon!  Somehow I got up to 3.1 miles.  2 years ago, I started experimenting with distance running.  I actually ran my first half-marathon at the age of 55.  With that came the feeling that I could do anything!  I tried training for a marathon last year, but had to abandon that dream.  

I am now training for a half-marathon in January.  I have struggled with this.  I am happy to say that I actually want to go out and run this morning.  It is almost 50 degrees, so I am wearing only tights and a t-shirt.  No hat, no gloves, no layers.  And I have that wonderful feeling of anticipation of the run.  No dread.  

I am grateful that I have such a wonderful life today.  By the Grace of God and the Program of Alcoholics Anonymous, I am able to be a sober woman.  That means I can make decisions and take action and live a good life.  I am not a victim of my history.  


dAAve said...

I love that last sentence.
I may use that for a meeting topic.

Scott W said...

See Mary run.

Run, Mary, run!

Pam said...

I feel so proud of you in so many ways.

Anonymous said...

very powerful post. it was great to meet you as well!

Hope said...

I read "I am wearing only tights and a t-shirt" and thought to myself "no shorts?" :)

Syd said...

Running and in fact any kind of exercise is so good. Rowing last night helped my rotator cuff. Amazing how this works. Have a great day.

Gabriella Moonlight said...

Thank you for the inspiration and the amazing part of your experience. I hope that you run tomorrow and enjoy!
Thank you,

steveroni said...

Being not a victim of my history comes to me through working the Twelve Steps continuously--ALL twelve!

Upon that is 'serenity' maintained.

Sure like today's colors in your picture.

Sober T said...

You are truly a testament to the fact that not everything has to be cured with surgery or pills. Good for you! You're an inspiration. :o)

Cat said...

"I am not a victim of my history."

So well written I just may remember this line!!!!

Lou said...

Those days when I can't wait to get outside and run are magical.

Other days are just work.

Anonymous said...

I started running last year in Feb. This Feb I plan to run 1/2 marathon. Your post on running rings true for me -- just what it does for the mind and the spirit.

Keep up your blogging, your blog is the one blog I follow regularly and have been for a long time now!