Alternative title: Epilepsy, Exhaustion and Injury
I’m writing this actually as I’m crumpled up on an airplane, middle seat. Last flight of this journey. I am on my way back to Calgary.
Over this last month, I raced 78.3 kilometres. I touched the Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific Ocean. I drank a lot of beer and ate a lot of deep fried food. I walked on two continents, and in areas that have deeply linked histories. I met some really amazing people on this trip and learned about new things that make me inclined to want to return to those places. I didn’t go back in time like Outlander. I travelled alone overseas which I haven’t done in over ten years. I’ve been on six airplanes and three trains. I watched Harry Potter with my nephew for his first time ever.
The marathon in Victoria was five hours of sheet rain and wind. The hills weren’t as prominent as in Nova Scotia or Scotland but the rain just killed me. I was freezing. The race was fantastic though and despite the jet lag and injury, I am thrilled to have finished it (even to have started!).
I am very proud of myself for everything I accomplished on this trip. Very proud. Exceedingly proud. Like, way to go me!
I have a medical condition. I push myself to do things that many people never do. I’ve done so through injury.
On the other side of that, I am often flippant about my epilepsy. I have an overdeveloped drive for accomplishment. I’ve done things when injured that I really shouldn’t have.
The point here is three fold.
I have epilepsy. There are many people who have epilepsy and other medical conditions. That in no way dictates their (or my) capacity for goal setting, ambition, love, everything that could be included in a “normal” life. We are capable of seeing what we want and working towards that. Whether that means accomplishments, respect or anything else, we can do that.
At the same time, it can be exhausting. I am not saying that life is less challenging for everyone else because everyone has struggles and circumstances. But even just doing something like waking up starts a normal day differently. Having to take medication and hope that I don’t have a seizure between that time and just getting to a race (or work) isn’t the same for everyone.
As an addition to exhaustion: the overdeveloped drive for accomplishment. I’ll acknowledge this. I want to prove that I can do everything that everyone else can. That is not actually a reality and sometimes I am so tired from trying to do everything that I just want to sleep for a week. It won’t stop me from trying, especially in the context of athletics.
Injury. Anyone can be injured. Injury comes in all sorts of forms, including emotional. When it comes to emotional, I am still embarrassed when I have seizures in front of people. I am still a little uncomfortable at times when it comes to discussing MY condition. Physically, geez, I could fill pages discussing injuries. In Scotland I tore open my knees. They started to heal over and I managed to tear them open again, bleeding through the only clean pair of pants I had with me but then continued to wear for four days before I’d have a chance to wash them. My knee buckled and my IT Band is strained.
Injury addition (also kind of including the exhaustion aspect). I was in a lot of pain on this trip. I did four races and a lot of additional walking/hiking/running. I also spent a lot of time crumpled up on airplanes seats. I was not going to stop though. I was not willing to accept those injuries or that I was too tired to keep going. As a result, I’m done running for the year. I’m going to have to spend the next few months trying to heal. That means more yoga and swimming, and less long runs. Or any runs for a bit (despite having just bought gorgeous new sneakers).
I need to learn to stop (or at least slow down a little). I’m not the best runner. I don’t run the farthest distances or the fastest by any means. But I keep going when I’m injured. I keep going when I’m actively having seizures and I’ve been more injured because of it (and broken my phone). Is it more important to be an intimidating specimen or to take care of myself? I suppose I have different answers at different times. I am proud of the things I’ve done. I am proud of the things I’ve done in the face of adversity.
Realistically though, I will not be able to keep this up if I continue while exhausted and injured. So I’m done racing for the season. I’m planning to get a couple new tattoos, Halloween is right around the corner AND in less than four weeks, I will be back on an airplane en route to sunny California for Epilepsy Awareness Day at Disneyland Resort 2018. So taking it easy still doesn’t mean actually stopping.
Beetlejuice quote: “It’s Showtime!”