As I was driving home from work a few days ago, I noticed a burning sensation in my chest. It was a feeling I hadn’t experienced in quite some time. There was no pain elicited but rather an extraordinary warm and fuzzy feeling. It felt as if I had butterflies! I was incredibly confused by this and so, in my usual overly analytical manner, got to thinking. What reason do I have to feel this way? I haven’t accomplished anything of any stand-out significance lately, I don’t have any big trips to look forward to, and there are no boys of interest in the picture. What is my deal? How can I possibly have butterflies? By the time I rounded the corner of my street and I made it to the drive way, it clicked. I had my answer, and it was pretty simple. For the first time in a long time, I felt exactly what I had been praying for: peace. For months since May, I’d been twisted in mental turmoil over my mystery health issue. I'm happy to say it’s behind me now, and I’m finally at a place where I am able to move forward.
My quest for peace over the past few months has not been easy. Passing out is probably one of the most terrifying experiences I have encountered in my life. Waking up in an ambulance with paramedics in my face trying to explain to me what I couldn’t rationalize if I tried has stuck with me. Just the sound of the vibrations of the motor of a truck brings me back to those memories. My body had failed me, and I lost all faith in its strength and power. I know it sounds dramatic, but feeling a lack of control over my body is a horrific feeling I can’t exactly put into words. It's like driving a car unsure if the brakes are going to give out. Although it was great relief knowing that I don’t have epilepsy and that the constant worry of breaking into a seizure was over, it did not take the fear away. I became terrified of my migraines. Having confirmation that they were the cause of my passing out while running, and also likely linked to a few other passing out incidents from my past that were not related to running, just had me constantly nervous. I gave into my fear and decided I was going to try to avoid all possible activity that could lead to a migraine, even if that meant sacrificing all of my running goals. I put away my Garmin, completely stopped my running regimen, and contemplated completely closing the door on my running dreams. Additionally, I was shying away from being overly active and was playing it safe in most areas of my life.
Based on my neurologist’s recommendation, I started a detailed headache log. In reflection of my log of the past few months, there are two main triggers of my migraines: exhaustion and anxiety. It does not matter what kind of activity I do, if I’m feeling either of those two triggers, I’m setting myself up for a migraine. Hiding from being active might help prevent migraines, but maybe not. The only guarantee that comes with hiding is that it will make for quite an uneventful, uninspiring, boring life. Unless I plan on doing a whole lot of nothing with the remaining years of my life, I need to get out of this shell of fear. I need to face reality, figure out how to manage my migraines, and let my body feel again.
My goals for this spring are centered on gaining trust back in my body. We all have weaknesses. Greatness comes from our ability to overcome those weaknesses. Some people have hamstring issues, GI issues, or issues of even greater magnitude. My weakness is my migraines. I can’t pretend like migraines won’t happen, and running away from them is not going to make them go away. Rather than succumbing to this weakness, I want to do what I can to work around it. I want to obtain more self-awareness and learn how to better manage my migraines.
As I stated in my previous blog post, my running potential is TBD…to be determined! I am not ready just yet to tap into that potential, nor am I ready to make running a major priority. I just want to gain trust back in my body and go from there. I have been so afraid to feel any kind of pain or discomfort over the past few months, and I am now finally at a place where I am okay with feeling again. Once I can fully gain trust back, I will be ready to find out what my potential really is. I was lucky to win free entry to the Glass City Marathon in Toledo on April 27 and believe this is a positive, guiding sign from above! Although I won’t be training to break tape over there in western Ohio, I will be taking steps towards reaching my big goals. Training for this marathon will be a completely different experience from the others. I have accepted that the days of long, solitary runs are over. All of my training runs will have to be on a treadmill or with running buddies. Although this takes away my favorite part of marathon training, I am now okay with this reality and am just excited to say that I will be starting out the New Year back training on January 6! I will be using the same McMillan Training Plan I used for the Cleveland Marathon last spring, but am hopeful for a much better outcome. Anything better than my messy 3:23 will make me a happy runner! But, the main outcome I want to gain from the marathon this spring is beyond a time goal. I want to gain faith back in the strength and power of my body, and use this to boost the confidence I once had that had become tarnished. I am a work in progress, and recognize that the road ahead of me might be long, hilly, and covered in potholes. I have never let tough road conditions get in the way of reaching my goals in the past, so I believe in my ability to embark on this new journey. Regardless of the inevitable challenges I will face and length of time it may take to get where I want to go, I will get there. I’m only 31, and have so much time reach my goals. I would rather take the time to do it right, rather than rush my training to sub-3:00 and potentially crash and burn along the way. Slow and steady wins the race!
I am enjoying these butterflies and hope they stick around for a while. But I know in time that they will fade away, because that is how life is. I also know that it will be just a matter of time before they come back because THAT is how life is! Life is tumultuous, but it is good. I am in such a great place now and am excited to start my new journey. I am finally ready to feel again. :-)