In about one week I will be flying to another province to theoretically compete in a race. It’s not a long race, just over 10km but also includes bouldering. In the mountains. No rest stops or aid stations. I need to be self-sufficient for the race, including water, food, additional clothing and an emergency blanket. I will also be bringing a compass and my phone in the hopes that I don’t get lost…does GPS work in the mountains?
I also still have a rotator cuff injury, plus am still epileptic (you know, as I will be forever). So, I have to make sure I bring medication in case I get lost/stranded on the mountain and generally hope my arm doesn’t give out while I am climbing.
I would say that 95% of people think I am crazy. That I am making a reckless and poor decision. That I am not respecting my body or my current condition (never mind my preexisting condition). The most recent doctor I’ve spoken with told me to take up chess. The physiotherapist I see suggested I work out carefully but no extreme sports. Other individuals I know have told me all the reasons why going ahead with this is a generally terrible idea.
Someone emphasized to me that “We only have one body and we need to take care of it”. That actually cinched it for me and not in the way that was intended.
Yes, I have one body. Only one body. One body that has carried me through multiple races, has endured all the training, all the other sports I’ve tried (roller derby, for example). One body that permanently exists with epilepsy. This one body that I have has persevered through all of the injuries I have experienced with that. This one body has gone through treatments and medications and reconstructive surgeries. This one body has been broken but has recovered-ish and continued on. This one body is pretty sturdy.
MORE IMPORTANTLY THOUGH: I also only have one life. All of the choices that I have made have been intentional and while some may seem like they are terrible, they have all had reason.
Someone once told me that I was doing all these things “just to keep up with the Jones’”. This was a person who didn’t know me at all and was assuming that I choose to be active only because I want to be like everyone else who didn’t have epilepsy. Like I want to be normal.
Who wants to be normal?
We all have one life. Everyone has one life. How people choose to use that life is up to them. How I choose to use my life, is by climbing mountains (figuratively and literally). It’s true that I only have one body, and the body I have is epileptic. The reasons I do things are not to show that as a person with epilepsy that we can do anything anyone else can. I’m not doing it to prove anything to anyone. I’m not here to impress anyone. I do these things that seem extreme, not to be normal, but to have an extraordinary life. Maybe the reason the activities are so extreme is because other people see the epilepsy first and principally before they see a person?
I am not willing to risk not using the life I have. I would rather try to climb a mountain and fail than to never try at all. I would regret it so much if I didn’t even try. I wasn’t able to complete an ultramarathon last year but I am so happy that I at least started it and I will try it again this year and hopefully finish it. I cannot imagine having this big beautiful one life that we all have and not utilizing it to the furthest reach of happiness for us. Chess just isn’t going to cut it for me.
So one week-ish. It’ll be a game day decision whether I start or not. Some mornings I wake up and I feel fine, some mornings I wake up and my shoulder is awful. If that is the case, I’ll admit that this injury is more than I can manage. I’m not completely crazy. If I know I absolutely cannot handle it, I will still be there at the starting line and at the finish line cheering on everyone else.
One body. One life.