Running a Different Kind of Race

Runner's silhouette on the stormy beach, stormy clouds on the sky, light reflecting on the sea

When you least expect it, and like the flip of a light switch, life can take a dramatic turn.  My husband Jim, suffered 2 separate strokes in the last 10 months.  He’s worked hard to come back from both.  He’s made great progress and we are so thankful for that great gift.  Even still, the strokes were life changing.

I see people all the time that ask me, “Are you still running?”  My response…”I’m running a different kind of race right now.”

It’s been hard. Facing fears and then the harsh reality is like a cold slap in the face.   The hardest part of it for Jim…He lost his independence.  Jim is a Vietnam vet, has had numerous back and knee surgeries and a triple bypass in 2010, yet he will clearly and unequivocally tell you that this has been the hardest year of his life. It has been such for me as well.

We are very blessed though with a large family and good friends who have done so much to  help us on through this dark ultra-marathon-like journey.  Very thankful and couldn’t do it without them.

In the beginning, Jim couldn’t get out of bed without two people lifting and pivoting him into a chair.  He had to relearn how to:

  • Write
  • Walk
  • Retrain some neurotransmitters to reconnect or create new paths
  • Compensate for the lost vision
  • Balance himself as he becomes unsteady when he walks.
  • Do things with his arm, hand, leg and foot that don’t feel anything.

The medication he takes makes him sick and the side affects are sometimes brutal and come on without warning even after taking for months.

To see pictures of Jim before the stroke at first, were too painful to look at.  Now, I’m thankful we had that time together and now this time as well.  I wish it could be like before, but realize it could have been so much worse.  The first few nights I stayed at the hospital because I needed to do so.  The next few nights I stayed because I was afraid to go home.  When I pushed myself to do it, walking into our house was like walking into my Dad’s house after losing Mom.  It was an unbearable kind of deep pain.  Our lives were never going to be the same again.  Will he even be able to come home?  I didn’t know at that point what life was going to be like.   I felt so alone, scared and overwhelmed.

As we went through the motions of moving forward like with anything, there were good days and bad days.  Also, God has a way of easing you into reality and slowly reveal what lied ahead.  So we adjust our hopes, dreams and expectations.

I thought I knew stress, but not at this level.

So Jim is now through his rehab and goes to the gym 3 times a week.  He still sees a lot of doctors and struggles with each days challenges – some better than others.  We’ve accepted the fact that our life together will be different going forward and make those adjustments daily.

I’m now climbing my way back to a consistent running schedule.  I ran for second time in  last 4 days and am exhausted.  I’m the heaviest I’ve ever been gained 29 pounds this last year, but am putting picture of Rhonda Rousey on my bathroom mirror – great come from behind story – to inspire me on days I don’t feel like running.  I bought her book.  I”m not into fighting and have never even watched cage fighting, but her story fascinates me.  So I’m using that to push me forward.  I’m using anything I can – anything that works.  If I don’t do this now I may never.

I signed up for the Las Vegas half marathon to run with my teammates the LIFE Runners.  Alex is coming home that weekend to be with Jim.

We do a lot of praying.  We rely on God and do as much as we can leading up to such.  Live life to the fullest.  Don’t look back.  There will always be something there to cause the playing field to be uneven.

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