Ok, break out the banners and balloons. Unleash the confetti and white doves. And cue the band for some awesome celebratory tunes...and don’t forget to clap your hands off, people. I ran today! No, it wasn’t a dream. I was wide awake, running on the two excruciatingly sensitive balls of nerves that fibromyalgia has made out of my once fit and active legs!
I am tempted to overdose this post with excessive exclamation points because on my darkest days, I assumed that my running days were over. Since some days I can’t even walk, a part of me convinced myself that I would never run again...except for in my dreams. But after 25 days of walking at least a half of a mile every weekday, I finally ran again!
It WAS for only about 4 minutes. I DID have to stop twice for a few seconds. It WAS on a slightly downhill part of my walk and gravity helped. And I DID feel like I was going to vomit and faint at the same time. However, I didn’t vomit OR faint, and I successfully hobbled back home beaming!
I doubt I’ll be winning any races anytime soon since my 11-pound dog and my 7-year-old son were beating me down the hill. But I ran! Yes, I ran for the first time in about 5 years!!! Can you feel my excitement and accomplishment I’m feeling here yet?
When chronic illness takes over our lives--especially when chronic pain is involved--it’s so hard trying to find a balance that works. Our minds want to live like we used to and mourn the days gone by. The illness strives to make us crash and burn, trying to convince us life is over. Consequently, our bodies are stuck in a kind of tug-o-war, violently turn back and forth between our mind and our chronic illness. If we focus too much on life before our illness, we will only run ourselves into the ground trying to be something that we aren’t anymore. On the other hand, if we focus too much on our health problems, we will be left wondering why life is still worth living.
Ultimately, it comes down to determination, moderation, and baby steps. Instead of focusing on what we used to do or what we no longer can do, we need to focus on what we CAN do right this very moment and make little goals to challenge us a bit further at a slow and steady pace. When I decided that I was going to add a little walking each weekday morning into my schedule I never imagined that I would be able to run today. Instead, my goal was to make it around the block in my neighborhood each weekday. I wasn’t concerned with how fast I was going or how many breaks it took me to make it around the block. I simply wanted to make it around the block Monday through Friday to increase my physical activity and to build up the strength and stamina in my legs. And I did that...and so much more!
If you are out there struggling in your life (like I and so many chronic illness sufferers are every day), please don’t give up. Our roads are not the same, but I understand so well that the journey with chronic illness is a hard one. Still, we canNOT allow our health problems to win! Even if our daily successes are tiny (i.e., getting out of bed, making dinner, washing laundry), they are still victories in our war against chronic illness and they should be celebrated! I know it’s so easy to only see our failures and inabilities. I do it so often with myself. But join me in taking a moment each day to reflect on the victories and to focus on the blessings in our lives. Then we can go to bed each night knowing that we fought the good fight, gave it our all, and are determined to wake up and do it all over again...no matter what. Stay strong and determined, my friends! I am always praying for you.