This past year has been the most difficult year of my life. I’m lucky enough to be in a better place right now, but it has been one heckuva ride. I will be sharing my story over the coming weeks. This is part of my journey to healing myself. I think that sharing some of my darkest hours, biggest triumphs, soul crushing set backs and the answer to what ails me (hopefully); will help me find what I am truly looking for in life.
Today, August 29, 2019, marks one year to the day that I went for a run and ended up staggering home, and barely able to stand on my own. It was the day I first wondered if I was ever going to run again. I already new that something was wrong with me, but that day I was frightened of what could come for me. Luckily, the worst case scenario didn’t come true, I am even recovering now. Over the last twelve months, I have only done one strength training workout that didn’t end after two exercises and leave me uncoordinated and clumsy. I have had many comebacks in my athletic life, but all of them have been almost nothing compared to this story.
Just over three years ago, in June of 2016, I posted a story on Facebook about the range of emotions I was experiencing, knowing that I wouldn’t be able to line up on the starting line of the Dipsea Race that weekend. I had a torn meniscus, but didn’t know it yet. I had been in great shape all year and was going to run a great race, until that injury. Well, perhaps I only thought that I was in great shape. I thought that I would bounce back from my knee injury, even if it was severe. I believed that I would be able to regain that great fitness before long. I was actually planning on getting faster in my 37th year on this planet, than I had been when I was 22 years old. Even when I realized that part of my left meniscus was in pieces, I thought that I was starting a journey that might ramp up with some races in the winter and culminate with some very fast races the following spring.
Little did I know that that moment in time, was merely just a stop on a journey that had begun, many years prior to that June day in 2016. There were many warning signs that something was wrong, long before the knee injury that sidelined me from serious competitive running for nearly two years. Unfortunately, most of those warning signs were various symptoms that did not seem to be connected in any way. The various symptoms that I had certainly didn’t appear to be anything that would amount to a serious, or life altering problem. I actually began normalizing the many chronic aches and pains, illnesses and mood swings that I was experiencing. After all, I’m a trained athlete, I enjoy the pain of hard workouts and was used to the daily grind of training for athletic competition.
Two summers after that knee injury, I found myself practically disabled. I was struggling to hang on to my career and life, and desperately searching for answers and a cure for my health problems. I didn’t understand what was going on or why I had trouble walking, looking left and right, up and down, or just doing simple exercises with my Personal Training clients who had physical disabilities of their own. Suddenly, I had to worry about matters more important than my running endeavors, I had to worry about whether or not I could continue working, and whether I would be able to enjoy time with my wife. Eventually, I began to doubt that I was going to ever be able to live freely, happily and productively again.
What I have learned over the last three years, is that my symptoms were not normal issues, and that I should have paid more attention to how those symptoms were negatively impacting my entire life, not just my athletic life. I also learned that had I sought answers to my problems sooner or pushed harder to solve them, it may not have gotten me my answer any sooner than I found it. Since August 2018, I have seen three neurologists, one neurosurgeon, three Physical Therapists, a Gastroenterologist, a Psychiatrist, an Asthma, Allergy and Immunology specialist, four incredible body workers, a Personal Trainer that specializes in Neurological Rehabilitation and I have worked with various other people in healthcare. Every one of them did their best in trying to help me, and I often found some relief from many of them, but I was unable to find the key to my health problems. At every step of the way, our hands would be thrown up, with nowhere else to go, and then I would go see someone else, repeating this cycle again and again.
It wasn’t until I hit what was perhaps the lowest, darkest place I had ever been in. When I felt hopeless and scared of what my future was going to look like, and I began to question any reason for carrying on, something just clicked. While describing, to a client, how the entire left side of my face had gone completely numb earlier that day, I could see in her eyes that she knew something. What I didn’t know was that my life was about to change directions again, but this time in the right direction.
Stay tuned if you want to read more about my journey, I will post what us technically “Part One” very soon.
The Broken Man Running is a blog about my experiences around running. Particularly, the experiences of overcoming obstacles and both the hurting and the healing power of running in my life. Running has both broken me and fixed me, and occasionally it has done both at the same time.