Sunday, August 9, 2015

The 5K Fun Run, IDAA, Norfolk, Virginia

I won’t say I came in first.  Others took the prizes for that.  I’d just like to say that my run/walk/grimace/curse was a miracle. I’ve had a few injuries these last couple of years.  Running that 5K Fun Run was something personally special.  A miracle really. Albeit a little one by global standards.
I blew my knee bicycling.  My painful limp occasioned my good friend physician, George, to corral me at church one morning. He did a brief examination on the pew and insisted I get an ultrasound and X-ray.  I didn’t even think of the ultrasound. Since things weren’t broken, I didn’t think the X-ray was needed. I certainly didn’t think I needed to take time off from work to look after myself.  But the ultrasound and X-ray did show that I’d had a partial medial ligament tear with significant calcification.  I could feel an unsightly lump on my knee that was decidedly different from the other knee.  Anti-inflamatories and some physio instruction surprisingly decreased the pain and hurried the healing.
The left and ankle and foot  took a bad twist on a motorcycle. It swelled up so badly I was sure it was fractured.  I didn’t want to know that denied it.  My denial capacity is a well honed defence.   I guess I mentioned it to George because he again  intervened and insisted I take care of myself. This time I knew the radiologist.  She was understanding and loving like a sister. I think my fear must have shown. Probably the fetal position on the slab with my thumb in my mouth gave it away.  I was joking but inside I was catastrophising big time.
I’d been a professional dancer, trained with the world champion, Doreen Key, in London, danced on tv, taught dancing, been called ‘disco doc’ when I went astray into medicine.  Laying on that slab waiting for the news that something serious was broken and torn and might not likely heal seemed to take an eternity of time. I never thought I should give up riding motorcycles again. But the idea that I’d not be able to dance again was frightening.
I was supremely grateful nothing was broken. I was on crutches with a partial cast for a while.  But a soft tissue injury can sometimes be worse.  This was.  It became a ‘trick’ ankle.  Despite all physio I couldn’t rely on it.  Mostly it was excruciatingly painful.  I’ve been an egomaniac with an inferiority complex at times so now with chronic pain I was kind of a stoic in public and a crybaby alone.
I actually  got a barbwire tattoo as “protection’.  I was ready to go to any lengths to walk pain free.  I  believe my physical self is an extension of my mental emotional and spiritual condition.  Maybe demons really were sticking red hot barbed forks into my ankle.  For whatever reason Ironically the tattoo worked.  I looked a bit like a pole dancer but the pain stopped.
But the left large metatarsal got injured when I missed kicking the ball for my dog, Gilbert.  I was on my sailboat and not paying attention I missed the ball and  kicked a wall cupboard instead. It was a cumulative thing.  Dancing and soccer had caught up with me.   So again I was struggling with this left sided pain and suffering.  I concluded my right brain must be unhappy..  Our body is cross wried.
The right brain is the creative brain. I figured I wasn’t listening to it, always working, always in fear, playing the hero, rescuing my patients,  always fighting the drunken drug addicted authorities and their insanity. With all the pain it didn’t seem that my struggle to save lives at the loss of myself was going the way it should. I felt I was getting too old for this shit and that my creativity, all that guitar playing, song writing, painting and wood work I wanted to do was being sucked into the miasma of beaurocratic wars.
As a doctor I ‘d decided on my own what that joint needed was mobility.  It didn’t matter that that just kept making it worse till again  my friend, George picked up on my wincing.  I think he has a stake in the X-ray company because  again he insisted I get a damn X-ray.  Not just any X-ray either. A weight bearing X-ray. I didn’t even know these existed.    With the X-ray in hand, George decided I needed orthotics. Apparently the doctor, I was listening to, myself, was quack.  Months after I was using the orthotics I was walking pain free.
I’d flipped my ATV hunting elk a few years before injuring my low back again so with all the compensation with the left sided injuries, and the ice cream, I’d gained weight and wasn’t keen on exercising, especially as it caused pain.
My friend Derrick, a  physiotherapy personal trainer, Derrick, came by weekly after that and showed me how to walk properly overcoming the maladaptation and doing some exercises to improve mobility.
I work with an Ironman,  Garry. I ride  my Harley Electraglide a hundred miles to go camping on the weekend.   Gary rides his nearly as expensive bicycle a hundred miles in the evening for fun. He’s lean to my pear shape.  Even if he is a decade younger, his example was hard to miss. With George, and Derrick and Garry I kept plugging away.
And this  spring, walking the dog, with new running shoes,  I tried running. I could walk all day by then running was another thing. I gave it a go.  Even when my joints with all the traumatic arthritis weren’t limiting me, I found that I was soon breathing heavy and my heart was pounding.  I was cursing smoking younger years smoking,  Knowing that smoking marijuana might not cause cancer like tobacco did it sure was the cause of this old man wheeze.
I'd signed up for the 5 k Fun Run, only to support the event last year. I didn’t expect I’d actually run it. However,  one of my favourite times in IDAA  had been walking with Carole and Bobbi talking up a storm. Julie had been there too. It was sunny and fun.   Cheryl had gone by like greased lightning. Some of the guys and I were just ambling along with these glorious women. We were talking about books we ‘d read. And laughing.  It could have been the Bloomsbury Circle on the English moors.   I was happy to be alive and that wasn’t something I’d felt much around that time.   I cherish those memories. Can’t remember what we were laughing about but I just felt like a happy young teen ager with the very best mates.
This year I was cursing getting up so early but  I did.  I told myself I  going to walk with Julie and discuss books. I wasn’t going to run. .   I was just going to walk with Julie and her New York friends..  Bobbie wasn’t there this year. Her and Tom were probably flying off in his plane somewhere like Tofino.  Carole hadn’t signed up for the run either.. Art had had his whole new knee replaced and was  walking erect again but not up to running yet.  Air Force, he’d given me a gung ho “First in All In” US Marine t shirt the previous evening.  I’d put it on that morning telling myself if I did decide to run  I’d run for the shirt.  I certainly couldn't shame a US Marines shirt.    But watching that first group of runners take off , wearing that US Marine shirt, I had a sort of manic psychotic break. I began to run too.
I lost sight of John immediately. He was running like a wild stallion. John’s a young psychiatrist.  He’d told me he was doing an Ironman next month.  This 5 k was a break for him from his more arduous training.  I caught sight of Cheryl up ahead. I was running and running I was feeling like a god. Something about chasing a beautiful woman does that to a bloke.
But pretty soon my mind was naturally telling me I was going to die. This was definitely a stupid idea  People must hear me wheezing that old man ex marijuana smoker wheeze.  My mind began saying I could run through the pain but maybe I should just walk.  But  there was beautiful woman up ahead in short shorts and I should catch up at least just to say hello.  I thought I’d like to say hello and maybe wave at Cheryl to show I’d tried before I keeled over and died.  But catching up to Cheryl   took up a good part of the run.  Next thing I was  running beside a  battle ship thinking I could use some big guns like that had on my sailboat.  I passed some Oriental gardens and by now had figured I could stop as long as I made it look like I was doing it to take a picture.  The further along the more pictures I took.  I was finally walking because I was sure my blood pressure was high enough to cause a stroke and at my age I need all the brain I have left.
I walked for a bit till the blood stopped pounding in my head.   Then I had to run again because these young  volunteers were watching.  Vanity made me run. Especially past the beautiful psychiatrist I’d just met with her husband the night before.  With the battleship as back drop I kind of imagined I might look just a bit like Tom Cruise or maybe  Clint Eastwood.  I just hoped she didn’t hear the old man wheeze.  I  sucking up my gut too because it was swaying a bit  and might cause me a torsion injury.
When I came to the finish line ready for the brass band I found I had another third to go.  I was dying by then.  Walking more than running. Fuck the shirt.  I’d given up thinking of glory and begun praying for grace.   John passed me going the other way  that last leg.  The fast folk were finishing as I was beginning.  It was definitely the longest loop.  I was  slouching towards Bethlehem when the young military psychiatrist volunteer cheered me on. I thought of Art and the shirt and began to stagger run again.   Somehow I got to the end.  I was covered in sweat and took a swig of offered cold holy water.  I sat beside Cheryl.  She’s a chaplain.  Sucking air,  I appreciated that she’d waited  in case I needed last rites.
In stead I  was doing this annual IDAA Lazarus thing happening.   I couldn’t speak for a bit. My heart was demanding all the oxygen my  lungs could supply.  Eventually I babbled out to Cheryl that completing that 5K was a  personal miracle.    Cheryl laughed. “You did good Bill, You did good." She's always encouraging.  It's the soul of IDAA.
I took a selfie after that.  Just for the shirt.
The 5 K Fun Run this year will probably be the most important event for me.  Sometimes its the inspirational speakers.  Sometimes it's the banquet camaraderie.  Usually it’s talking in a small group discussion with other psychiatrists, Nathan, Adam, Art, Darryl, John.   Sometimes it’s cyberdocs, Dave, Paul, Dick.  Often it’s making a new friend.

I’d not have been able to do this run without the group.  John, Julie, Cheryl and all the volunteers and organizers.  All the other participants made it possible for me. That first IDAA in Toronto, the banner message had been “We are not alone.”  Now it sure felt good to accomplish something I thought I’d never be able to do again.  Now I'm ready to dance again.  That will be another miracle.  
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Julie B said...

I had my ballet classes all picked out in Norfolk. But the damn cold kept me from going, not that I felt that bad, but no one wants you blowing your nose next to them at the barre. I'm headed to NOLA next month to assist with the LAC. I'll be looking for ballet classes for NOLA IDAA, so start your plies now. I might run next year, too. We'll see if my hip still hates running. Lucky for me it loves jetes. You were awesome in the Fun Run! Maybe we could do a giant grande allegro for 5K's.

haykind said...

Thank you Julie. You are always such an inspiration. Today I would more likely use the bar to lean against. To think I once used it to rest my heel! But now I have reason to stretch and who knows what is possible in a year. Miracles are timeless.