The Girl (With a Chronic Medical Condition) Who Went Up a Hill and Came Down a Traithlete.
Over six years ago I was diagnosed with a condition called interstitial cystitis (IC). It's kind of a difficult condition to explain, but I recently read a blogger called "Pretty With Pelvic Pain that explained it pretty well. Basically the blogger says that when you have IC your bladder bleeds. The pressure, the pain, the burning and my new best friend, bladder spasms, which cause cramping, can be oh so painful. However, I have handled IC like I do every other thing that could be perceived as bad in my life, as an annoying challenge. (Sometimes calling it something a little more colorful). (You can read more about what a day for me looks like here).
One of the ]things that I had to limit after my diagnosis was my physical activity. I shortly discovered things that I used to love, like playing tennis, were definitely out of the question. The first time I tried to play tennis after I was diagnosed was terrible. I knew I could physically run after the ball, but if I did I would pay for it later (and I did). My sweet husband let me alter the rules so that if he hit the ball to where I couldn't read it without running the point didn't count. I am pretty sure I left the court crying that day. After a few attempts, I decided to hang up my tennis racket.
Something we discovered about 3 1/2 years ago that didn't seem to bother my IC as much was biking. We bought a lovely commuter bike with a very soft, comfortable seat and I found I was able to ride it and it didn't affect my IC that much. To keep a long story short, after I had my daughter I had to go off of one of my medications due to cost and now even bike riding leaves me a bit scarred. But I was stubborn and I wasn't going to give up the one thing that I could do just because there was a little extra pain.
Another sport I took under my belt was swimming. I swam in high school, but hadn't hit the water for over 12 years. Swimming seemed to have little or no affect on my IC at all. In fact, it was one of the only times in the day when I didn't feel sick at all. Until recently, when I started having bladder spasms while I was swimming or intense pressure that didn't seem to go away. Regardless, I continued to swim because I needed to do it for me, even with the discomfort.
I told myself I could never do a triathlon because I couldn't run. And I didn't think I could handle the swimming/biking on my own. One late Friday night someone posted a video on Facebook about triathlon (and Iron Man) team Dick and Ricky Hoyt. It is the story of a son who is a paraplegic who asked his father to compete in a race while pushing him. While I am not a paraplegic and I can talk on my own (Ricky has to use a computer), I could identify with their story all too well (as could anyone with a chronic medical condition or disease). Dick said that Ricky told him, "Dad, when I'm running it feels like my disability disappears". With tears dripping down my cheeks, I knew this was true. When you are doing something you truly love, you feel like you can do anything. The final message Dick gave was, "You can do anything you want to do, if you make up your mind to do it." It was at that moment I knew I had to go on with my dreams of doing the triathlon. Ricky had found the legs through his father to fulfill his dreams and I had to find the legs to run so I could satisfy mine.
I didn't just want to ask anyone to run for me. I wanted to ask someone who knew my struggles and pain. Someone who had seen me cry and knew how much it would mean for me to cross the finish line. I had a few friends in mind, but I ultimately found my legs through my friend Laurel. It's a little ironic that it worked out that she was going to be my triathlon team member as we often say that we share a brain (it is really eery how similar we are, down to the clothes we wear) and we have been called twins before (even though we look nothing alike).
In training mode, this Sunday I road my bike for the first time this year. Prior to this ride, I had built up the confidence with support from family and friends that I could actually do this. The first part of the ride wasn't an easy one. I hadn't went out since the fall and I was a little rusty. I began to think negative thoughts. Maybe I couldn't do it. Maybe my IC would flare and I wouldn't be able to finish. While going down a big hill, I switched gears too fast and the chain fell off my bike. Normally, this would not have phased me, but at this point in my journey I chided myself, "Surely you don't think you can do this triathlon. You can't even keep a chain on your bike." Suddenly it was the end of the world. And it was cloudy and gloomy on top of that. I finally was able to fix the bike chain. I was tempted to go back home and throw in the towel, but something inside of me told me to keep on going.
I road to the U of L Shelby Campus, which is one of the most beautiful and bike friendly places in Lyndon to ride. My mind was so wrapped up in my own self doubt. It was as if the clouds in the sky were seeping into my brain. It being a weekend, the campus was quiet. My gloomy thoughts seemed to be at a boiling point. And then I heard it, the singing voices of birds. The sun began to peek through the clouds. I then noticed how lush and green the grass was and how the trees has their branches outstretched to the heavens.
|The Beautiful Sky That Day|
There is a book we read to Alexandria before bedtime and it says that Jesus loves children and he told everyone to have the faith of a little child. I remembered this book while I was riding and realized he was right (obviously Jesus was right, but it was an "A-ha!" moment). Children live in the now and in the moment. They don't worry what tomorrow is going to be like. If they want to spin in circles until they are dizzy, they do it. They trust that their parents are going to take care of them and don't worry about where their next breath is going to come from. The believe they can do anything. Obviously sometimes there are consequences to their escapades, but Jesus knew what he was talking about when he said we needed to be more like them.
The next evening I did it. I entered my credit card and hit submit. I felt that childlike glee creep up inside of me and that exciting nervousness in the pit of my stomach. I began to think of what race day would be like and grinned. As I was swimming, I could hear Alexandria cheering in my head, "Water!" "Swim!". As I was biking I could see her shouting, "Hooray!" "Bike!" In her smiles and grins, she knows I can do it. And with the faith of a little child, I believe I can do it too, for God has given me the strength to do it. And I can't help but think that He will be watching with a proud grin on his face as well, saying, "I told you that you could do it," having been right there the entire time.
And....a few more adorable pictures of my daughter.