I thought I had a sleepless night, but I am recalling some weird dreams. One involved my mum holding a glass of wine for me with a straw in it. ‘I told you not to over do it’ she says. Obviously the paralysis from my leg has spread to my arms too.
The weird feeling in my bum and leg is still there. This has completely taken over from the fear about my lower legs. I have to face this and deal with it. I call the physiotherapist. They have an appointment today or tomorrow. I can’t get it together to get there today. I take tomorrows appointment reluctantly. I want this over with, I just need to have my self diagnosis confirmed. I tearfully push my trolley round the supermarket. I’ve done something. Irreversibly damaged myself by this ridiculous notion that I could possibly run 21 kilometres. I’ve brought this on myself.
I get my shopping into the car and sit. The numbness persists. Oh my God, I am going to have to wait 24 hours to find out what’s going on! I can’t bear it. I ring the physio back. I’ll take todays appointment instead please.
By the time I get there I am a tightly wound coil about to unravel at any minute. I’m really sorry if I cry, I warn her, but I’ve got myself in a bit of a state. That’s ok! She reassures me, your emotional welfare is a part of our job too. This nearly undoes me, but I manage to give her the lowdown on my recent activities. I forgive her surprise when I tell her I’m training for a half marathon and that I recently ran for 2 hours – ‘without stopping?’ she asks in amazement. Wow. I’m impressed! I take courage from her admiration.
This wonderful woman systematically checks me over, lays her healing hands on me and only probes with questions. Then she hooks my lower leg up to a machine and electrocutes me. Just a little bit though, and only as much as I can take. The sensation is odd, but not painful. This stimulates my muscle and softens it up enough for her to smooth and knead out all the tension and knots. That may sound relaxing, I can assure you its not. Those massage tables should have sides, like hospital beds to stop you falling off when you leap in the air after finding a ‘tender’ bit.
Or to stop you running off when they tell you they are also going to stick some needle’s into your muscle. Relax, she says, you won’t even feel it. Look how thin they are.
And that was it. No compartment syndrome. No shin splints. Thrombosis? What thrombosis? Just two very tight muscles, running from the inside of my knee to ankle. We don’t really get to the bottom of the numb bum, but she gives me some exercises to do and I have to call her tomorrow. Or go straight to hospital if it gets any worse.
I am walking on air and feeling slightly sheepish. I don’t even care about my numb bum. She even told me that I could run!
Sunday morning I set out for a 10k. I am a little apprehensive. Will my legs get unbearably tight again? What if I can’t manage a whole 10k after a week off? I am painfully aware that this run is kill or cure for my confidence about the half marathon which is just a week away. Off I go.
It’s like magic. I soar. I have my 80’s soundtrack on speaker, not too loud. When ‘Eye of the tiger’ comes on, two people air box as I run past and a runner coming in the opposite direction high fives me. There is enough heat in the sun to warm my face, but the air is cool and comfortable. Running feels so good.
And I feel like I have a bit of an epiphany.
Fear is a terrible obstacle to our happiness and well being. Especially if our fear is of something unknown. I was afraid to go to the physiotherapist because I didn’t know what she would tell me. I was afraid to run because I didn’t know if I could. But unless we do the things we are afraid of, face our fears, we will never know if our fears were justified. And just by doing those things, we come to know the answers and the fear caused by the unknown is banished.
Deep, right? Welcome to mind expansion through running.
I’m on a roll now. It’s as if all the little thoughts formed during my months of training are all coming together, putting themselves in order and coming into the light. Again I had broken down these 10 kilometres into three lots of 3 kilometres. You see, I remind myself. This is what you can do with all the big tasks in your life that threaten to overwhelm you with their size. Break them down into smaller pieces and work through them piece by piece. A weight loss goal, a work project, a debt. I know we all know this strategy, but how many of us actually put it into practice? I have now succeeded in doing this to conquer running long distances and it has worked. I WILL use it in other areas of my life to achieve the same success.
As I come to the end of 10 glorious kilometres my mind turns to next weekend. I ask myself, could you carry on running now for another 10? Without hesitation, yes I could! I will be running 5 and 5 and 5 and 5 kilometres (the extra 1 never counts) And what’s 5 kilometres?!
Am I afraid? A little! But I am going to take that fear by the scruff of its scrawny little neck and I am going to look at it right in the eye. And I am going to kick it to the curb.