Early Earth Day 5K (Abundance)

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Early Earth Day 5K (Abundance)

About a week before the Abundance sponsored Earth Day 5 kilometer foot race, a close friend asked if she could push me in my wheelchair during the event.  Having been a runner all of my life, it took a minute contemplation to agree to it; with my old body I could have placed in the top five of events like these.  Now I was riding in a wheelchair, getting pushed by a woman that had not trained and did not want to run, but this is my new normal.  Megan is a woman whom I trust with my life, so off we went.  It was cold at 9:00 am, in the sun or out, and there was a 20 knot wind blowing down from the north.  I get cold easy, so I was wrapped in blankets and had a heating pad in my lap.   Let me just say that wheelchairs and blankets are not a good idea to mix, as the blankets droop down into the wheels, and rocks are never a good idea with small wheels.  The first section was downhill, and we got a taste of how the small wheels would do going fast downhill; they wobbled and the chair became unstable.  I tried to sit balanced as I could, but it did not help.   Megan was being so careful with me not to hit any rocks in the road, and making sure that I was warm enough.  We did alright, I should say that Megan kept up a good pace, we were midway into the baby strollers with much larger wheels.

 

One mile, two miles, and finally we turned away from that cold wind; then came the big downhill; my chair was dragging Megan along.  The chair was vibrating substantially, which causes blankets to come undone.   And I could say that I had a brief premonition just before this happened, as the blanket got caught under the left front wheel of the chair; the chair, which I was strapped into (don’t ask me how I thought that was a good idea). The chair skidded briefly and then flipped ass over teakettle and took me with it, since Megan was holding on to the handles, she fell on top of me, also.  It was exhilarating, the most excitement I have had in many months.  People running in the race came asking if we needed help.  Megan was beside herself asking me over and over if I was hurt, but I was laughing so hard that I was drooling.  We flipped the wheelchair back upright, hugged, and after checking our hands and fingers and elbows, and determining that we were ok, we got back in the race and finished up.  The winner of the men’s and women’s races came out to meet us and escorted across the finish line.  A few minutes later, we were called up to the podium to collect medals, I for being the only handicapped person in the race, I suppose; and Megan for having the “best excuse not to run in the 5k.”  I felt so well taken care of…fall and all!

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Holy Saturday

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Holy Saturday

My good friend Jeff has too much energy for me, anymore.  I used to be able to keep up with him but this disease has me so very tired.  Holy Saturday, there was this advocacy party in Charlotte, NC. , which is 2+ hours away and I had an old friend in town that flew in from Minnesota, only staying 3 days.  But, Jeff would do anything for me so I asked my friend, and she said “sounds good.”  She drove because I was exhausted, and we had time to find a bite of food first, since the gathering was beer, wine, and dessert. We were the last to arrive, and I did not get far into the door for the people I met; although I must say that it is a little awkward for me to meet people, I cannot speak or stand long, I drool a bit and I have to speak on my phone. There was conversation, of which I was a small part; and a viewing of the trailers Jeff had made of what I used to do and what shape I am in since my diagnosis with ALS.  I had watched the “Staring Down Fate” trailer only once.  It had crushed me and I did not want to view those trailers again.  I never know what will set me off, and I did not want to be crushed into a puddle in a room full of strangers.

I made it through the trailers having to turn my head to the side for my reaction to the man I used to be.  It is very difficult to go from a person with boundless energy, having run and stayed very active my entire adult life, wrestling with my 3 kids nightly, to going paralyzed over a year.  I think everyone in the room got it, got the message of Jeff’s film.  My life, as it turns out, has chronicled the disconnect between man and nature; the wolves maybe still have a chance, but not much in my opinion, not without any management except shooting and removal by traps.  I have an incurable, untreatable, death sentence; the product of too much nitrogen run off feeding the cyanobacteria and producing a toxic chemical that mimics a critical amino acid.  Once started it is near impossible to stop.  So, I rest in the knowledge that people will heed my story and try to change the world for the better.  Why?  Because the people in that room last Saturday convinced me that my story is worth telling.

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Blessingway

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Blessingway

A few weeks ago, some close friends planned a Blessingway in my honor.  When they told me about it and asked permission, I immediately said “sure,” because I trust them.   I had no idea what a Blessingway was, but I looked it up.  One friend asked if I had something planned that no one knew about.  So, I presume there are different forms of a Blessingway, and this one was not the Navajo rite of passage for a new mother.  I had some of it explained to me by the hosting friends and I thought it would be just fine. so I got a list of names and emails together.  As the time drew near, I began to get worried about my reaction to what was to take place there.  After all, it was to bless me on my way, and I was not ready to die just yet.  But fear crept back in as the realization that this was to be the last things my friends and family were to say directly to me in a formal setting, before I die.  I think all would agree, that is some heaviness.  

 

People had wonderful things to say about me, and I cried hard and often.  My wife read the vows she had written to me for our wedding; my sister made me a list of things I had to do when I see my ancestors, most people stated what I had done to change or impact their lives.  I had feared what my head would do with all this kindness that was put into words, but I need not have done that.  I was surrounded by love, and even though I cried hard and often, I left there feeling better than when I had come.  A friend also said to me that when you grieve, it makes room for something else to fit in your heart, and I think it is love.  I believe that to be true, and I wished that I had learned that as a child.

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