Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Know that where there’s fear, there’s power

It's funny because on the drive into work I was thinking about fear. Thinking about how I am not afraid to die, I had to make peace with that when it was very unknown. My fear is that getting better is improbable, note I did not say impossible.

Then when I got into work there was an article about fear in my news feed. The article "A Simple Process to Turn Fear into Power" by Leanne Kallal over at Tiny Buddha, was a welcomed read this afternoon.

On November 3, 2008 I had written the following in my LiveJournal:
I am terrified and using humor a bit too much to make light of the situation. I had a few doctors appointments on Friday. I was just expecting simple things and maybe some tests for my back. But my eye doctor noticed that I had some swelling in my optic nerve of both eyes.Thursday at 2pm I have an MRI to rule out a brain tumor. I am getting pretty low because I am beating myself up over my weight. but i am also scared because I won't know if it's a brain tumor or not until later in the week. In the mean time I am in a lot of pain with my head and my back. I'm still at work and still trying to keep myself moving and doing things with people. but i'm scared. I know things will be fine in the end but it's this journey i am scared of and just may need a little support through it.
Look at those first words. "I am terrified".  Until January of 2010, I was in a doctor's office at least twice a week. I was taking upwards of 12 pills each morning. I was fearful of everything. I didn't know if I could survive through a night of karaoke with friends because it was so loud and I didn't know if I could act and sing because it might be too loud in my head and hurt, I didn't know how to answer friends when they asked if I was going to die. I was closing myself off from people, I was stressed out from work, I became sick of being sick. It's taken a lot of patience to be OK with having this disorder that causes me chronic pain. I don't talk about it much with people and often I can block it out on a daily basis, I've just gotten used to the pain. I've been stoic or humorous more often than honest.

After my last few long runs, where I was running over 2 hours or pushing myself up a giant hill, I could feel pain. There are many things that can cause the pain to be more noticeable. The change of the seasons, change in barometric pressure, stress, or just the disorder itself. I noticed it before the Bridge of Flowers run and quickly made a comment to my counterparts of what I was allergic to, just in case.

I forget that others haven't had four years to process this. When I explain what occurs for me on a daily basis and what things can potentially happen (due to them occurring in the past) it can be terrifying. Often, I am treated as a sick person. I no longer am Hollie, I am a liability or a burden to bare. I made the choice to be honest with my coaches. A lot of things happened afterward, some good and some bad but most based out of fear. Fear for my safety, fear for the liability of the program, fear that this was another thing that had to be handled.

I get it, I honestly do. I am very casual about the extremes I can go through because I went through my stages of grief after being diagnosed. I cried, got angry, and felt let down. As I learned more about my disorder and how to listen to my body, I was able to go off a lot of medicine and manage most of the pain through quitting my stressful job and taking nine months to rest (thanks car accident, I'll always be thankful for that) - but I didn't get to explain that, that I am a lot better than I was. Once again my perception became that, I was a sick person, no longer Hollie, a liability and a burden to bare.

It hurt me. I know that wasn't the intent. Believe me, I know it. Safety was the intent. Doing the right thing was the intent. So I took time off from work and scheduled doctors appointments. I was fearful of what they would say. I was fearful that they would tell me that I can't, couldn't, or shouldn't run. But they heard me, they heard me tell them everything I was doing to make sure I was being healthy. I was already doing everything they would have prescribed.

So now, I just have to wait. I have to hand in my doctors notes and wait. Is there fear associated with that? Yes, there is a lot of fear associated with that. I had made statements over the weekend, things like "I feel like my friends have been taken away from me in one fell swoop", "I feel like all my hard work is just being thrown out the window", "I feel like this is just something I can't talk honestly about", "I feel like someone else is making the decision that I can't run". Do I still have all those fears? Yes. Yes I do.

All that fear, it pushed me. To take action and responsibility for myself. To get all the information requested as quickly as possible. To handle things differently. That fear was with me when I attempted my 9 miles on Monday.  It's what drove me to prove I could do it on my own, that as long as a doctor said I wasn't hurting that myself, that irregardless of the decision from my running group - I could still make it to my half marathon, team or no team.

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