Stage Fright!

Do you remember the very first time you had to stand up in front of an audience?

The first time for me was in preschool.  I believe it was that “end of the year” production put on by teachers to give the parents a Kodak moment of their little darlings.  My parents’ little darling was a tight rope walker (ie. a very low-to-the- ground balance beam over grass) in the “Circus”.  I can see the photo in my mind of me in my little red sailor bathing suit with the anchor on the front, poker straight hair and thick bangs, making sure my little feet stayed where they were supposed to be.  I was very, very proud to perform.  For all the times I had walked on the balance beam without a thought, I was still nervous.

I found myself feeling that way again yesterday.  I was nervous and exhilarated at the thought of  getting on the treadmill and actually running.  A little strange if you don’t know my recent history.

I’ve been committed to getting and staying in shape for the past eleven years through the thick and thin of life. I’ve been in the trenches having battled binge eating, post pregnancy weight,  female metabolism and age related changes.  And most recently, I struggled with serious injury and surgery that made exercise seem insignificant in the shadow of whether my life was ever going to be the same again.

The short story is that I had two badly injured disks in my neck that in the words of a well-known, conservative surgeon, “absolutely need to come out”.  Cervical fusion was the determination if I wanted the chance at pain-free living and the ability to pick up my two-year old daughter again.  After a year of pain my answer to surgery was, “Yes, yes, YES!”

May 14th was the day of my first surgery (and hopefully my last) ever and went without a glitch.  A male nurse even serenaded me with every song from “Grease 2” as I waited to be up next under the knife.

As those of you have had surgery before know personally, the hardest part was the weeks following in recovery.  But even then I can’t complain.  Six weeks went by and I had my first follow-up in which I was x-rayed and given a report card regarding my progress.  In a few words, I got an A++ and was thrilled.  I actually called my husband in the car on the way home in joyous tears.  “He said YES!  He said I can exercise!”

You see up to this point everyone had been telling me “No”.  And for that matter my body was saying, “No”. 

“No, you can’t pick up your two-year old daughter who so badly wants you to hold her little body in your arms.”

“No, you can’t let your son wrestle you on the floor because it may trigger horrible pain in your neck”. 

“No, you can’t clean your house because it will put you down for the count in a hydrocodone state and who is going to take care of the kids while your husband is at work?” (Okay, so this one didn’t bother me so much.  How terrible is it really to HAVE to hire someone to clean your house.)

“No, the second, epidural can’t go in any further because there is no space in your neck.”

I was elated to hear a “Yes!” and was moved to racking sobs because I finally felt FREE.

So, I still couldn’t pick anything up more than five pounds and really did still hurt to do housework. (So disappointing, I know).  But I was on the right track and the neurosurgeon mentioned running.

“In two or three months you will be able to run. ” (Neurosurgeon)

“Can you repeat that again?  I don’t think I heard you right.  Was that years or months” (Me-with my mouth hanging open)

“Months” (Neurosurgeon)

“Are you sure?” (Neurotic Me)

“Definitely- see me in two months for your next check up.”(Neurosurgeon)

Yesterday was my two month check up.  Another A++ report.  Me- shock and awe as the neurosurgeon sends me out of the office with a free pass to begin running.

I sat in the car with my imaginary “pass” and just thought for a while.  I guess you could call it stage fright.  I actually thought about not telling my husband, or anyone for that matter.  Why, after all that I just told you about myself? 

Well if you are familiar at all with my family and it’s most recent history (and if you are not check out my husband’s blog “Running Free” and the Facebook group “Atlanta Southside Runners”), you’ll know that running has kinda become a regular part of our lives.  Not only that but I had kind of set a precedent as the exercise know-it-all until God slowed me down and let my husband catch up (and blow me away really). 

So, here I was sitting in my car feeling like I would suddenly have all eyes staring at me if I told anyone.  People would look at me and say,”So what can she do?  What is she capable of now?”

What did I do?  I drove to the gym.  I got on the elliptical trainer and just kept glancing at the treadmills in front of me. 

Now the neurosurgeon told me that though I was capable of running- I wouldn’t damage my fusion- my neck muscles may not like it a whole lot (and today they are protesting).  But I could get started.

So I told myself I would save the last five minutes of my workout for the treadmill.  I got off the elliptical and went to the treadmill furthest from anyone else, got on, and got going.  It was bizarre and awesome.  I couldn’t believe I was doing it and I was going to be okay.

This is a little picture of what my blog is about.  I don’t know what it is like to be a man running on the road of life but I do have my own take on what it is like as a woman.  And I like to compare it to being in high heels.  We have some really unique characteristics that add  beautiful and sometimes tremendously difficult challenges to our journey.  Walking in high heels requires balance like that “tight rope” I was walking in preschool.  My tight rope has changed through the years but I’ve always been in heels-albeit different heights and styles. 

My little blog is just a glimpse at this journey, what I’m learning on it by the grace of God and hopefully, in sharing it, a blessing to others.  Here’s to you my fellow tight rope walkers!  Can’t wait to get to know ya!

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