I couldn’t have done it without them …

I want to say all of this today, since tomorrow I will just be too busy (and scattered). My heart is so vested in these words that I fear that if I start crying that I might not stop. So if I wrote them tomorrow that would be bad because Sunday is race day.

This will be the first full marathon I will run since I got sick. I’ll be fighting a lot of demons out there Sunday. Yes, I can run. I’ve proved that time and time again. BUT can I run THAT distance again? Do I still have what it takes? I honestly and fearfully don’t know.

But with the love, support, guidance and encouragement of my family, friends and doctors, I get to find out. It’s a miracle I have been given this chance again. And I do not take any of it for granted. It is because of these incredible souls that I am even willing to try.

It’s hard to put yourself out there like this. REAL hard. Even under the best and healthiest of circumstances it takes all you have. Being knocked down physically has only made this task more difficult and one of the biggest mental challenges I have ever faced. But I promised myself something years ago when I took a chance on running seriously again. If I do this, I won’t give it up. I wouldn’t do that to my heart again. Running matters to me. It is the part of me that propels me into a fearlessness that I have never know otherwise. And I don’t want to let it go. Not ever.

The point of all my emotional rambling (HA!) is to publicly thank each and every person who has walked through this season of life with me. The season that robbed me of so much, but gave me back even more than I could have ever imagined.

SO without further adieu … to those beautiful souls who have cheered me on, from those first steps that I took with my walker, to the start line this Sunday morning … I humbly and genuinely thank you for believing in me. I couldn’t have done all of this without all of you.

Well, I hope you all have a day where you feel eternally grateful!!!

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World Meningitis Day …

Happy World Meningitis Day everyone! Being that I’ve battled viral meningitis twice I wanted to encourage everyone to check out all the fact sheets out there on meningitis. There are two kinds, viral and bacterial. Both can have some pretty devastating side effects and outcomes. Being aware of causes and symptoms is so important! And probably the biggest thing I want everyone to walk away with today is to TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS and ACT FAST. I only had a headache the second time around. No fever or other symptoms, and all my labs were normal. But I remembered THAT headache from the first time I had it and insisted that medical staff continue running more tests. I even had an ER doc yell at me! But I refused to back down. I just knew I was sick again. And I was right! Thank God I am a social worker with lots of medical experience because with as severe as my encephalopathy was, had I not adamantly advocated for myself, I would be lucky to have survived without significant neurological issues. OR WORSE! So please take the time to read up on meningitis today. Tuck the information away in your memory, just in case.

Well, I hope you all have a day where you learn some pretty important stuff!!!

Tapping back in …

Sooooo … I have a race on Sunday. I haven’t raced since last July and that was just for fun when I was in Alaska with friends. Sunday will be fun too but it’s also me officially starting to race seriously again. It is both scary and exciting. Getting sick messed with my mind, body and soul. I’ve slowly crept out of the funk it put me in and I feel like I’m finally owning that my heart is vested in my dreams again. I’m a LONG way off from achieving them. Trust me, Sunday’s race will be slow and steady to the finish. No where near my old finishing times. But you know what? I am going to appreciate every single second of it because those footsteps are the beginning of me believing in myself again.

Well, I hope you all have a day where you tap back in!!!

Do what you have to do …

I used to love going to the dentist. Yep. I was one of THOSE people.

But not now.

The day I got my second round of meningitis I spent the morning at the dentist so I will FOREVER connect the two. God love my dentist and the entire office for how good they have been to me. They have done everything they can to get me back to that dentist loving patient again. I can’t appreciate them more. I truly believe that dental health is beyond valuable. So as scared as I’ve been, I’ve kept going. It hasn’t been easy. Trust. Me. The first few times I went back, I will admit, I cried! Yes, my fear was THAT bad.

Today I had another appointment scheduled. I was a ball of nerves on the drive over and sitting in the waiting room my stomach ached! I didn’t want to go. I wanted to cancel my appointment but I showed up anyway … because fear will not stop me from doing what is best for my health.

Well, I hope you all have a day where you do what you have to do!!!

Wide awake …

Before getting sick I was an early riser. No, I mean REALLY early. I woke up before my alarm usually about 5 am, easy peasy. And FULL of energy. That has NOT been the case for 16 months now. Don’t get me wrong, the nagging fatigue is gone. THANK GOD. But waking up is a whole different ballgame for me now. I wake up groggy. No more bouncing out of bed. You’d think I’d be used to it by now. NOPE. After decades of being one way, you don’t forget it … NOT EVER. Anyway, that being said, I’m INCREDIBLY thankful for the recovery I’ve had thus far and for all the neurological bullets I dodged. I just recently had a physical and my doctor told me again how lucky I was to have had no lingering issues from the encephalopathy. She also seemed very hopeful that I’m going to one day feel FULLY like myself again. Needless to say I left that appointment feeling GREAT!

When you are in the midst of recovery and healing you don’t always feel or see the progress you have made. I can now that so much time has passed but some things still really bother me. Like the difficulty I have waking up. It’s incredibly frustrating to say the least. But as soon as I get frustrated I remind myself of how far I have come and of what could have been (EEEEK). And now I have the words my doctor said to me. I’m going to CLING to her hopefulness. And let life unfold.

This morning I received a little gift. I woke up at 4 am. All on my own. And feeling like me again. This has happened a few times now. I have learned that these mornings don’t last. Tomorrow or the next day will likely be a different story. But that’s OK. I enjoy having a glimpse of the old me. No matter how fleeting these mornings may be I couldn’t be more grateful to still have them.

Well, I hope you all have a day where you are WIDE AWAKE!!!

Time-released …

With all the cold and flu related advertisements I’ve been seeing these past few weeks I have come to one conclusion. The science that has come up with the medications that last for 12 to 24 hours is pure genius. Now don’t get me wrong. I still have a fear of all things chemical. But I can’t deny that I have used their benefits. Trust me, meningitis pain is not something you can just breath through. Anyway, my point is that I wish that we could harness this science and somehow melt it into everything else that leaves a bad taste in our mouths. Like traffic. Bad weather. School finals. Seriously, the list is limitless. Now some may be thinking, “That would drag it out.” But I say, NO! It just makes it even out. Like spreading it all thin enough to be a mild inconvenience rather than a poop storm of YUCK.

Well, I hope you all have a day where life is time-released!!!

2018 and Free …

2017 was a year filled with so much LIFE … and I couldn’t be more thankful.

I started 2017 in full recovery mode. My second round of meningitis at the end of 2016 was no less devastating than my first ten years earlier. I knew the healing process I had laid before me. At times that knowledge made it worse. Other times it made it better because I knew what to expect. I think in a way it made me more compassionate to myself. A rarity, indeed. But I wasn’t myself and I loathed it. I spent months in a fog. My days were filled with naps to combat the unrelenting fatigue and lists because my memory was so poor. My anxiety was at an all time high. I dealt with a significant amount of PTSD that came with an intense amount of anxiety. I was frightened I would have another recurrence. And that pain is NO JOKE. Understanding the severity of my encephalopathy was unnerving. No one can figure out how I was functioning “normally” with the amount of brain swelling I had. But I believe that the terrifying drug reactions I had after I got home really pushed me into a whole new level of fear. I literally thought I was dying. I don’t think I had ever been that scared in my life and sadly it has stuck with me. I can still get to that level of panic with even the smallest of triggers. Yes, healing is a long process. But I am happy to have to the opportunity to do it all again. This could have gone a different way for me and my precious family. And I refuse to be anything but grateful. Refuse.

In January 2017 I somehow convinced my doctors to let me train for a marathon. I truly believe that this was a huge part of regaining my strength again. As the days passed I got stronger and stronger. My memory improved and my fatigue got better with each passing day. If ever there was a time in my life to redefine myself, this was it. And it was incredibly liberating. Who could have ever imagined that the very illness that confined me gave me so much room to grow?!?! Definitely, not me!

When I look back on 2017 it is with mixed emotions. My illness and recovery made it hard. But life still happened. And that made it WONDERFUL. I was able to celebrate George’s high school graduation and watch him plan out his future. I was in awe of the growth that I saw in all of my children. Being a part of their daily lives is a gift from God that I will never take granted. NOT EVER. Summer was just straight up FUN. Having all four kids home for the entire summer was something I needed more than anything. Family heals folks, family heals!

Traveling was also a huge part of my 2017. We took lots of little trips and I was blessed with an amazing trip to Alaska. We celebrated birthdays and accomplishments. YAY, I was there and healthy enough to enjoy all of it! In 2017 I even managed to complete all 16 CEUs to keep my nutrition certification. Now THAT was a miracle having struggled with memory issues, HA! There was so much more too. The privilege of having these experiences and all the others often left me feeling overwhelmed. Like “WOW, thanks God! I’m here, alert and actually living this life!” Words can’t capture how I have felt time and time again. “Humbly blessed” comes to mind but it still falls gravely short.

Anyway, my point of writing about all of this is that regardless of the underlying need to heal and recover, life amazingly still engulfed me and took me with it. Despite the tough times I faced I felt an abundance of joy. I loved every difficult and fantastic moment of 2017 and everything in between. And surrendering to my new journey released me and allowed me to redefine who I was … again.

2017 was hard, but it was also beautiful. THAT sums up life in a nutshell. And as long as I have breath I will cherish every moment of it. If 2017 has taught me anything, it was that I do not have to remain tethered to unpleasant circumstances. That my mind, body and soul can still seek and find the freedom that hope gives us even in our darkest of hours.

So I guess that brings me to my 2018 New Year Mantra. Here goes …

Well, I hope you all have a year where you feel FREE!!!