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D33 Overcoming Obstacles & Excuses

So you think something is impossible? I understand. I thought running was impossible for me. For starters I was 100 pounds overweight and then I tore my cartilage in my knee and had surgery to repair it; medial cartilage repair and lateral release. Well things didn't go quite as according to plan and I ended up with 2 blood clots (DVT) in my leg and a whole bunch of scar tissue which was extremely painful and my quad atrophied like a little raisin in the sun. I had a second surgery to remove the scar tissue and do another lateral release 4 months after the first horrendous surgery and this one went better than the first but I was still incapable of doing anything with my right leg. It was ridiculous! I couldn't walk on it, I couldn't even lift it! I had to hook my left foot under my right ankle to move my right leg. It was the longest 7 months of my life.

Once I finally started walking again it was slow but steady and very painful progress but it was progress. The doctor never said there was anything I couldn't do but I resigned myself to a life of never running. Ever. Truth be told, I liked having an excuse not to exercise.

I can't lose weight because I can't exercise and that's not my fault. So I'm fat but it's not my fault and I can't change it so therefore society has to give me a free pass. I'm a victim of circumstance and I cannot lose weight because of my knee. You shouldn't judge me or treat me unkind because I'm not your run of the mill fat person. I'm fat but it's not a choice. So treat me like the victim I am. Instead of laughing at me, feel sorry for me.

Ridiculous!

I should've demanded society treat me like a human and respect me and not judge me regardless of the reason I was fat. I shouldn't have asked anyone to treat me like a victim and I shouldn't have acted like a victim. But change is scary and I knew changing my weight would mean changing my entire life and I didn't want to. I didn't want to fail and I didn't want to stop doing the things I liked doing or the things that brought me comfort. I didn't want to stop binging and I didn't want to start exercising...I wasn't happy in my comfort zone but I didn't want to to leave it because it was COMFORTABLE. I was miserable but I was stuck and I felt like I was beyond change.

Then my sister started running and suddenly I was thrust back into childhood and I wanted to be like my big sister! I wanted to be like her more than I wanted to stay in my comfort zone; even though it was a childish reaction it pushed me in the right direction and I downloaded the C25K app. I wanted to throw up. Every step was horrible! My shins hurt, I was nauseous, my chest burned...why do people do this for fun!?

But my sister was always there in the back of my mind. If she can do it, I can definitely do it!!

You see, my sister couldn't cross a room without gasping for breath once upon a time. She was so incredibly sick with a really rare lung disease called Pulmonary Alveolar Proteinosis. We all have protein that builds up in our lungs but we have cells called macrophages that eat that protein so therefore we can do things like walk across a room without feeling like we're drowning. Essentially she was drowning. Her lungs filled up with fluid and the only way they could get it out was do lung lavages where they stuck tubes down her throat into her lungs and flushed them out then tipped her backward on an operating table to drain the fluid back out. Every time she had this surgery she was in the hospital for 3 or more days because they could only do 1 lung a day and she always had to stay an extra day for observation. Thankfully we live in Massachusetts and we have some AMAZING hospitals here in Boston and Children's Hospital is no exception to this rule. She had an amazing team of doctors and surgeons who took care of her and despite really painful tests like blood gas tests and despite surgical complications like the time they punctured her lung she persevered.

There's no cure for PAP and they have no idea what causes it or how to treat it. She didn't know if she was going to suffer with PAP for the next month, the next year or the rest of her life. She connected with a few people online who also had PAP but the number of people out there is SO small there were not many people who understood what she was going through. Some tried an experimental drug, some didn't seek treatment and I remember 1 guy passed away...that was devastating. We didn't know him personally but he was her friend, he had her disease and selfishly we all worried "would she be next?"

But after years of lavages, sometimes on a monthly basis, she was better one day. As quickly and randomly as the PAP appeared it disappeared. It was strange and thrilling and perplexing and nothing short of a miracle!

I'm not sure what made her want to run; it was probably the fact that once she couldn't even walk and now that she could breathe she wanted to live the life she couldn't live back then. Whatever the reason she started running and she loved it and she had fun and she got in great shape and I was jealous and inspired and I wanted to be just like her so I started running too.

I ran my first 5K with my sister by my side and it was really bad but also really good. She stayed by me the entire time cheering me on despite the fact that she could've finished light years before me and I'm so incredibly grateful for that. It was hot and I was out of shape but if she could do it, so could I!!

I was so proud when we crossed the finish line! I couldn't wait to do it again which was shocking. I was the girl who was thankful for a knee injury because it gave me an excuse to be lazy and now I was running my first 5K and already planning my next one! It was a slow evolution and somedays I still struggle to feel like a runner. Somedays I still feel like I don't run long enough or fast enough so therefore I'm not a runner but that's just the old me talking. I am strong, I am capable and I am a runner. And it's all thanks to my beautiful sister who inspired me long before she started running <3

-t

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