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When You're a Runner With Chronic Illnesses

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I love this photo because of “Rocky,” who is next to me, expressing what it really feels like to finish The Crim.

In general I have pretty flat affect. Even if my heart is bursting with joy, you may only see a tiny smile and glint in my eye. But, Rocky is showing the world what we’re training for and what finishing The Crim feels like.

Me, I’m feeling the joy, but I’m also concentrating on kicking a few more seconds off my time.

This picture was taken back when pace mattered. Back when I had two full lungs to breathe with, back when I didn’t trip just walking on a smooth uncluttered surface, back when I could feel both feet, back when lab-work didn’t show that now we need to keep an eye on my organs in addition to every thing else. I believe the only specialists I haven’t seen are the proctologist and urologist.

The writer running.

Four years ago I spent 10 hours a day tethered to an IV pole at home with scared, confused children that acted like it was normal for their mom to walk so slow with a pole and lead running from her arm instead of her running down the road. I don’t know if they understood that for a while my prognosis was guarded, I did not want to have that talk.

Here we are, four years later. It seems like yesterday and it seems like a lifetime. Time is cruel like that. I’ve had to stop and start teaching my body and mind how to run so many times that I’ve lost track. Pace no longer matters. I haven’t seen The Crim or “Rocky” again, I’m still tripping on my own feet, and I can’t feel my feet either. A part of my lung never did reinflate, my immune system doesn’t like my liver and it doesn’t bother to react to invaders either.


My kids count on my running like they count on my heart beating. If I start getting ready to leave the house without having gone for a run first, they immediately ask what is wrong.

There are people that think if I can run that I must not be sick. What they don’t realize is that running is my survival – no matter how slow I am. I actually feel guilty using the term “running” to describe what I do out there. Whether those people support me, run beside me, cheer me on, I don’t care anymore. I have enough people that will be there to see my last stride as I’m lowered into the earth.

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Thinkstock Image By: Melpomenem

Originally published: August 30, 2017
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