Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Ray of Light :-)

I finally got the “go-ahead run” from my orthopedic doctor this week. I, the girl who could hardly go two consecutive days without running, made it eight months. And I’m not institutionalized. I’m not fat. And I’m not depressed.  I’m free. I’m healthy. And I’m happy. I’m sure most people assume that as soon as I got the green light to run, my New Balances were laced up, my Garmin was strapped on my wrist, and I was on the road making my way towards my next 26.2 audacious goal. However, that couldn’t be farther away from where I was when the doctor told me I was completely healed.  Instead, my mind went back to those seven weeks.  Those seven weeks I couldn’t walk nor drive. Those seven weeks when I was completely dependent on my loved ones. Those seven weeks that shed so much light on who I am and what life is all about. 

Those seven weeks. I’ve experienced physical hardships in the past, and I have to say that the temporary hurdles within those seven weeks were by far the most challenging. I learned quickly that not being able to walk was much more complicated than “just” not being able to walk. Without two functioning legs to move me, my hands had to take over the job. With both of my hands on crutches, that meant that they were too busy to take on any other task. That meant not being  able to carry a piece of paper (let alone a stack of papers or a book), not being able to push a cart through a grocery store, not being able to carry a plate of food or a cup of coffee, and not being able to hug someone without losing balance and falling into their arms. And that’s not it. It was not being able to go to the bathroom without holding on to the rails (In fact, to be completely honest, I never noticed those rails until I needed them). It was not being able to walk up or down stairs without hopping on one leg and praying I wasn’t going to tumble down (or up). It was not being able to shower without balancing on one leg while the other leg was covered in a garbage bag (And, trying to shampoo with one hand was no easy task!). It was not being able to drive and being completely dependent on everyone else to take me where I NEEDED to go (forget about where I WANTED to go!). It was needing the handicap ramp when going into a restaurant.  It was almost having to go on leave from work because teaching on crutches seemed impossible. It was feeling so incredibly lonely, helpless, and distraught. It was falling asleep at night with the guilt of knowing that all of the pain I was enduring and the pain I put on those who had to care for me was a consequence of something that I had done to myself. It was those seven weeks I thought of when the doctor told me I was completely healed.

But, with God and my loved ones to be my hands, legs, sanity, and light, I made it through it all. My faith in God and the kindness and generosity of my family, good friends, and my darling, sweet students saved me during those seven weeks. Without their help, love, care, and sacrifice, I could not have done it. You all know who you are, and please know that I am eternally grateful for all you did for me. I am tremendously blessed to have had you all by my side, and that this whole experience was just a temporary, short period of time in my life. 

For the moment, I’m enjoying walking, riding the bike, and powering through on the elliptical. Maybe I will run again someday. Maybe I won’t. At this point in my life, training has turned from empowering to downright abusive. With my migraine/passing out issues and now recovering from a broken fibula, continuing to put my body through training would be masochistic. But, that is not to say that running has been a complete detriment in my life. If you have followed my journey, you know that running has done so many wonderful things for me, and as I have said over and over again throughout the years, has shaped me into the woman I am today. What I have been holding onto with running hasn’t been the medals, trophies, race t-shirts, or all of the pictures posted on Facebook. It’s those intangible moments. It’s waking up at 5:00am on a Saturday morning with the excitement and anticipation of a 20 mile run (yes, I loved those long runs!). It’s the energy of pushing through the hardest parts of the marathon.  It’s that feeling of accomplishment when I crushed the goals I had set for myself. It’s all of the kind, supportive, positive people I met along the way. It’s overcoming hardship, and learning how to see the light in every circumstance thrown my way. Because, you see, throughout my journey, it was never about running. It’s never about the things we do. It’s about those intangible moments, the people we meet, and the lessons we learn along the way. That’s what shapes us into who we are, making us better people prepared to take on the journey God sets out for us. So, with that said, maybe this running-induced broken little fibula was a part of God’s plan for me. Maybe not being able to stand on my own without falling into someone else's arms wasn’t such a bad thing after all. Maybe those experiences that seemed to hold me back were there to push me where I’m meant to go next. Maybe God has a bigger plan for me than what I can even expect or plan for. Maybe I don’t have to have it all figured out, because He has it figured out for me. 

Had you told me when I graduated college ten years ago that I would be a passionate science teacher, with 10 Boston Qualifiers under my belt, I likely would have said, “Are you kidding me? And what’s the Boston Marathon?” We need to accept that our lives are bigger than what we can ever expect them to be. We all have our own journeys here on Earth, and it most certainly is not a linear path. The path is windy, with many peaks and valleys, but it’s in those twists, turns, ups, and downs that the best of who we are is brought to light. We need to have faith in God and let Him take control of our paths. We need to have confidence in who we are, do the best we can with each day, love and appreciate those God puts in our lives, and listen to that little voice in our hearts as we make decisions that propel us forward. 

Will I ever run again? Maybe. Running is just that: running. Whether or not I do it again doesn’t really matter. I feel confidently equipped for whatever challenge God has set for me next.  For now, I am feeling blessed than ever for my loved ones, for health, and for all of the lessons that came along with my temporary hardship.  It seems like it happened in just a blink of an eye, but it shed such a tremendous, great light on my life. And for that, I am eternally grateful.

I’m free. I’m healthy. And I’m happy.  I wish all of the best for everyone and can only hope to be a bright, shining, ray of light to all those facing hardships as all of my loved ones were for me.

Happy New Year, everyone!!! Love, MP :-)

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Fibula Road to Recovery

April 29, 2014
WELP. My lil ankle-that-could has turned into the cankle-that-cant. By this afternoon, my ankle was out growing my calf and the pain was O.O.C. I finally sucked it up and stopped by the ER, and apparently I have a fibular fracture. :-X BAHHHHHH! Looks like I'll be taking up some new hobbies over the next few weeks. Perhaps chess? Table tennis? Crochet? ‪#‎stayingpositive‬ ‪#‎itsmyonlychoice

April 30, 2014
So's looking like no surgery is needed! Apparently I had a stress fracture in my fibula, not a sprain. Doc says it likely broke at some point in the marathon. CRAZINESS! I was BEYOND blessed to finish, let alone manage a PR! I'll be on crutches for a while until it heals, and seeing the Orthopedic doc every week. I'll be taking it easy, staying positive and patient a long the way because it could be much worse. I have SO much to thank God for. I will miss running, but crutches are great for cross-training in the meantime!  


May 9, 2014
It has been a rough, LONG week. I've been needy, crabby, exhausted, sore, and at times completely irrational. One minute I'm laughing, and the next I'm crying. I'm so happy to end this week with good news from the orthopedic doctor followed by dinner and cheesecake with my favorite lady! With Mother's Day coming up this weekend, I feel luckier than ever to have been blessed with a Mom as patient, loving, supportive, and sweet as my Mommy. I don't know what I'd do with out her! I love you, Mom! Thank you for putting up with me, and thank you for being YOU!!!

May 16, 2014 
Doc said the fibula is healing "perfectly!" I just can't put any weight on it for 2 more weeks. But by then I'll start physical therapy and he thinks I might be able to start walking! Just gotta keep crutchin' in the meantime...

May 30, 2014
Doc says the healing is "excellent" but I need stay on crutches for another two weeks. I was pretty disappointed because I went in assuming I'd be leaving walking (and maybe driving). But despite the little let-down, I started physical therapy and am excited that I was able to stand on it for the first time with no pain! This whole process is not easy and quite the rollercoaster ride, but I'm trying hard to take a day at a time and focus on the positive. Keeping my fingers crossed that I will be walking in two weeks!!! (...and hopefully driving sooner than later, pllllllease!!!)

 June 1, 2014
Crazy to think I haven't walked, let alone run, in 5 weeks. Doing my first PT stretches, simple inversions and eversions of my foot, has been incredibly humbling and has got me thinking. It's amazing how, in just a moment, your life can completely change. The only constant in life is change. So if you're in a funk, don't worry because it's temporary. And, if you're having the time of your life, cherish the moment because it's temporary. Life is unpredictable, but it's all a part of His plan. All we can do is believe, in God and ourselves, and know that everything happens for a reason. 0:-)

June 13, 2014
The good news is that my ankle looks pretty normal (ignore the powder)! The great news is that the x-ray shows the same; Doc said the bone is starting to callus! The super great news is that I can start walking! The super DUPER great news is that I can start driving!!!! YEAH YEAH YEAH!!!!! Wooooo weeeeee!!!

June 30, 2014
10 weeks in and all looks good! Doc said I can give the boot the boot! I've been upgraded to an aircast for the next 4 weeks. Although I now have heel-toe walking mastered, I still have to continue on with Physical Therapy focused on strengthening the area. He said it will be at least 4 more weeks until I can run again, but I can start biking and swimming. And that is fine with me! I have to admit I'm enjoying the break from the regimen more than I expected. I'm in no hurry and am content following the doctor's orders until I'm 110%. After all, I've made it this far and I'm still breathing/haven't been institutionalized despite no running or working out over these past 10 weeks!!! Lolllll Running has taught me that the long journeys always have the best rewards. Keeping faith, staying patient, and focusing on the positive!

July 30, 2014
It's been over three months now since I broke my Fibula. I saw Dr. Cohn this morning to check in on my progress. Prior to seeing him, I had a bone density scan and will have to wait at least a week to get the results. I also had an x-ray, which he kindly shared with me during our visit. The bones are aligned, but are still not completey fused. I no longer need to wear my aircast, however I will not be able to run for at least another month. The good news is that my pimp limp is completely gone (sorry, 50 cent!), I graduated from Physical Therapy (I even got a t-shirt!), and I can start power walking on the treadmill (watch out, old ladies!). The greatest news is that I'm progressing, although it is slowly. Dr. Cohn has given me complete faith that I will be back to where I was, eventually!!! Just need to pray for a little bit more patience until I get there!


September 1, 2014
The time has come to say good bye to another summer. I expected this summer to be one I would have to "just get through." Little did I know how truly wonderful it was going to be. It is true that some doors have to close in our lives in order for others to open. I have learned that happiness comes when we are able to surrender the control we believe we have in our lives, and focus on doing the best we can each day with what God sets up for us. Our plan is truly in His hands, and we have to keep faith that there is nothing he will throw our way unless we are equipped to handle it. The toughest of situations always show us that we are stronger than we believe. However, this summer has taught me that no matter how strong and independent we may be, we need to accept our vulnerability. We have to let others into our bubbles because we can't get through life on our own. We just can't. We have to love those God has put into our lives for exactly who they are, and let them love us back for exactly who we are. Nobody is perfect, and so we shouldn't waste precious time expecting that out of others nor should we be expecting that out of ourselves.

So much has seemed to come full circle in my life these past few months and I am so excited for all the new doors that have opened. Life isn't easy, nor is it fair. But life is too short and precious to "just get through." When we can find it in ourselves to focus on our blessings, life is REALLY good! Happy almost Fall, everyone! Make it the best one!

 September 10, 2014
It's now been 4 1/2 months since the onset of my injury. I saw Dr. Cohn today and got some great news. I had a bone density scan the last time I saw him, and was shocked to learn that I have osteopenia (which means I have low bone density). Although it is a precursor to osteoporosis, he assured me that it is nothing to be too concerned about because it is common in smaller-framed individuals. I just have those dang Irish genes to blame once again, LOL! All joking aside, it is a relief to know I didn't do anything to cause it. I just need to continue eating lots of milk and cheese and taking calcium/vitamin D supplements.

I also learned that the gap between my bones is sealing, and he thinks that the walking is helping! Although I am showing progress, unfortunately the bones are still not completely fused together. He said that if I start running now, there is a really good chance I will end up with another fracture and will be back to where I was at the end of April. With that said, running it is out of the picture for at least another two months. There is no feeling worse than being told you can't do the thing you love most. It's like a dagger piercing right through your heart. But, although I am very disappointed and my heart is aching, I am accepting it for what it is. I CAN walk. I CAN bike. I CAN drive. I CAN coach...and I am LOVING it! Coaching my cross country kids energizes me more than any race I've ever run on my own. I feel lucky to say that everyday I'm graced with my all-time favorite aspect of this sport: the people. Whether their 14 or 80, runners are truly some of the kindest, most uplifting, passionate, driven people in the world. For that reason, despite the setbacks, I am feeling very blessed for all the things I CAN do.

 November 26, 2014
It's now been 7 months since the onset of my injury. I saw Dr. Cohn today and am blessed to announce that the bone stimulator did its job. I AM COMPLETELY HEALED! He wants me to start using the elliptical, and thinks I will be okay to run by the end of December. However, truth be told, at this point I don't care about running. Not even a little bit. Maybe I will run again someday. Maybe I won't. After all I've been through, it's no longer enough of a priority to me to have a plan in place. All that matters is that I'm HEALTHY, and for that I am SO incredibly thankful!!! 


July 26, 2014

This past week, my siblings and I were blessed to be able to take our entire family down to the Outer Banks to celebrate our parents' 40th wedding anniversary. Oddly enough, in retrospect the vacation seemed to mirror our parents' lives together in many ways. Our drive down started out perfectly. The sun was shining and there wasn't a cloud in sight. But after several hours of comfortable cruising, we were stuck in traffic. And we were stuck for hours. Somehow, we failed to plan ahead to coordinate the most efficient way to travel. To top it off, Kristin and Dennis' car broke down and they were forced to take a detour to a random Toyota dealership in PA to service their car. But despite the setbacks, we made the most of it. Several hours later, we suffered our way through the traffic and Kristin's car was able to be fixed. We eventually made our way to OBX.

But when we got to OBX, the sunshine didn't follow us. It was POURING rain. The kind of rain that makes you worry and wonder, "Is it going to be like this every day? We didn't plan on rain!" But our big brother Paul minimized our worry and insisted that the bad weather was good luck. His optimism couldn't have been more spot on; our vacation was absolutely beautiful. The weather was not perfect each day, but we made the most of whatever it happened to be. The rain came and went intermittently, but we somehow always managed to get in exactly what we needed to when the sun was out. Throughout the week, there were laughs, tears, adventures, disagreements, "guided tours," relaxation, sun burns, broken glasses, Jack Nicholsons, toilet paper shortages, a missing egg crisis, and so much more. And with everything, we made the most of it. All 16 of us. Under one roof. Together.

We were lucky enough to have a bright, sunshiny day for our last day, and we made sure to take advantage of every second of it. After spending the entire day at the beach and at the pool, we decided to skip our official restaurant dinner plans and ordered pizza. We followed it up with a dance party starring our little ones; they have a way of making everything so bright and sunshiny! In accordance with the absolutely perfect weather, we got everyone together and took some pictures together on the beach. And the pictures were incredible! But the pictures were incredible for more than the great lighting on the beach. They were incredible because they were of all us. Together.

If my parents have taught us anything, it's that marriage is not easy. It's hard. REALLY hard. Some days the sun will shine, and other days it won't. The hourly forecast isn't always a perfect predictor, so there's no way you can really know ahead of time the type of weather you might have at each moment. And for that reason, you can't worry about when it will rain. You have to appreciate the moments of sunshine. You have to make the most of each day. Together.

When we finally made our way back to the CLE tonight, I saw my Dad hug my Mom and I saw her hug him back (a rare occurrence if you know my parents). While hugging, I heard my Mom say, "This was the best time we had in 40 years."

I think we did good, kids. I love you all!