Mary is stopping by with a healthy “Hi” while we’re out of town. You will enjoy her story. You will laugh. You will cry. You will want to friend her on Facebook. You have to read to discover why.
In December of 2006, at the age of 53, I was given the life altering diagnosis of post polio syndrome, a progressive neuromuscular condition. A survivor of paralytic polio at age 5 and traumatic childhood events, the years of despising my challenged body finally caught up with me. Over there <——– is a picture of me in December of 2007. I’m smiling because I had just quit my full time award-winning career as a social worker at the Department of Veterans Affairs to heal my life, and had published my first book of inspirational poetry. Deep down in my soul I knew that great things were waiting for me on the other side of my office door and my diagnosis.
“When you get a diagnosis, don’t play to the result, take it day by day.” – Michael J Fox
After being discharged from outpatient treatment, I hired a personal trainer. Oh my goodness, do I ever remember my first session with her. I was so weak and deconditioned that I couldn’t even complete parts of the assessment. By the second session, it was game on. Everything hurt after we finished, but I had made a decision. If I was going to feel pain, I might as well experience pain on the side of health and strength, rather than the pain of disuse and being sedentary.
By February of 2008, I had met and surpassed my trainer’s initial goals for me. She asked what my next goals would now be. “Oh,” I answered, “I’d like to feel free in my body, go outside and take a walk, dance ….” She feverishly wrote down these goals. Her bag was packed and her hand on the door knob when I said, “Oh, there’s one more goal to add. I want to run the Boston Marathon.” That was quite a leap from having an initial goal of being able to get up off of a low seat.
On April 20 2009, 7 hours and 49 minutes after the gun went off in Hopkinton, Massachusetts, I crossed the finish line of the 113th Boston Marathon as a mobility impaired runner and raised $10,535 for Spaulding Rehab Hospital, where I had taken the first steps on my healing journey. My daughter and husband ran by my side every step of the way – from the grueling training through the winter of 2009 and the 26.2 mile course.
After running the marathon, my symptoms recurred, so I went back into outpatient treatment. In January of 2011 I came to my yoga mat. In May of 2011, I discovered the healing power of a form of body work called Structural Integration. For more information you can visit Anatomy Trains. From our second session, my body worker, David Vendetti talked to me about what happens in yoga teacher training. I was there for body work. “What does any of this have to do with yoga teacher training,” I would repeatedly ask myself.
I soon found out. On January 13, 2013 – don’t you love the lucky number 13 – I ran the 113th Boston Marathon and graduated from yoga teacher training. I am now a certified yoga teacher.
I bring all the gifts and treasures of wisdom I have learned on my healing journey to others through teaching yoga. At the age of 59, I feel more vibrant, healthy and fully present in my body than ever before. And as for that progressive neuromuscular disease that was going to get a lot worse with age – well, they say one picture is worth a thousand words, so consider this picture an essay!
This baby boomer is blooming!