Saturday, February 19, 2011

Who Do You Run For?

What if you were told tomorrow,
"You will never run again"?
Would you go for a run today? Maybe walk to the grocery store rather than drive the 2 blocks? Take the pups for a much needed walk?
I would. All of the above.
I like to keep my "Home Life" seperate from my "Work Life" for several reasons. However, I make an acception after experiencing one of those "A-Ha!" moments a few weeks ago. My 9-5 job consists of planning events to benefit and fundraise for the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA). The best part of my job is meeting the beneficiaries of these fundraisers: the clients and their families who battle this terminal disease every hour of every day. You can probably understand why it's difficult to leave work emotions at work; some days tax my heart strings more than others.
An interesting facet to my job occurs every Wednesday at clinic. We have the opportunity to sit in on doctor's appointments where new MDA clients receive initial diagnosis and counseling. Ok so it's a little intense.... but I love it. One gentleman stood out to me a few weeks ago. We'll call him Ed.
Ed caught my attention for a few reasons: He arrived alone. He seemed physically fit for his age (67). He had a sense of humor much like my own, which made him all too relatable. Ed didn't say much but when he did his commentary remained dry and synical. I liked him.
Unfortunately, Ed had been in and out of doctors and specialist's offices for nearly 2 years. No diagnosis as to why his legs could no longer bear his body weight. Ed's an athlete. A marathoner, to be specific. Why aren't his legs working the way they should? Within the 40 minute appointment, Ed received a diagnosis of ALS (aka Lou Gehrigs disease).
Enter the not-so-fun portion of my job. How do you offer a smile to someone who just received a terminal diagnosis? Ed will die from this muscle-wasting disease, one where your muscles are viewed as a sort of bank account that never get's replenished. Once you've used them, they're gone.
One of the few questions Ed asked perked my ears. "You mean I'll never run again?" He had hoped that some sort of rehabilitation could give him is legs back. ALS patients- and most patients with muscular dystrophy- are instructed to avoid tiresome activities because their muscles don't rejuvinate themselves like ours do. No trips to the mall. No evening walks through the neighborhood or on the beach. No marathons.
I didn't talk with Ed much but I knew I liked him. Like I said, we have similar personalities and could have possibly run the same race in another life.
Ever since my visit on that particular Wednesday, I think of Ed while i tie my running shoes. How many times have you talked yourself out of a run for one reason or another? I can tell you that ever since my visit with Ed, I can't think of any reasons that override the feelings I felt that day. Which raises the question,
Who do You Run For?