Sitting on my hospital bed beside my new friend, myalgic encephalomyelitis on Friday, April 13th 2012, listening to my attending doctor tell me it would be years, not months, before good health showed up at my door again, we parted ways.
This particular consultant shared my path through the brambles of the unknown to diagnosis and it was time to be referred to another consultant.
Leaving the hospital with my diagnosis, I vowed to win the competition. I was going to be the first patient EVER to kick ME in the shortest period of time. And so, the fight began. Note to readers, especially to anyone recently diagnosed with ME, the next few paragraphs is a lesson in how NOT to face ME!
Waiting to see my new doctor, my husband was bribed to drive me to Dublin. Athletics Ireland organised a 100 meter race in conjunction with PowerAde, a sponsor of the upcoming London Olympics and all competitors, regardless of finishing places, had a chance to win a trip to the Olympic stadium and run on the track. Needless to say, I turned up, wearing my club singlet and shorts, ready to run 100 meters. Yes, incredibly stupid.
I wasn’t completely deranged, I knew there was every chance I wouldn’t finish the race, I knew without doubt I’d be finishing last and also knew there was no way my body would be able to accept the prize. I wasn’t there for the prize, I was at that starting line to give ME the two fingers and scream in her face “I won’t be beaten”.
Moments before the race panic suddenly hit me, running any race requires a warm up and a race of this length, while short, required a mile warm up. Haha, a mile, not a chance. I couldn’t walk a mile, never mind run it.
I ended up doing a few stretches and slowly jogging 10 meters, after which, my heart was pounding and I feared falling on my ass. Everyone was swinging their legs, sprinting, jogging on the spot, while I leaned up against a wall attempting to stretch my body. As if Mr Bean.
Lining up for my heat, I sussed out the antelope around me, decked out in their running spikes, I’d forgotten mine, so wore my clunky asics runners as if tackling some mountain hike compared to the fit legs around me.
Once the gun fired, the field took off like comets, while my brain took a few moments to process the sound. Immediately seconds separated my competitors and I, the gap growing every breath. Hitting the 80 meter mark I wanted to fall down and die, my body screamed to stop, my mind cursed me, but I refused to quit and tortoised my way to the finish line, light years behind everyone else.
My poor husband had to endure me singing “I did it, I ran” while organisers with raised eyebrows, looked at the lunatic who held up the start of the next race because of her slowness.
Within moments I was clutching the nearest rail, my body floored and I endured a horrific week the following week. Yet in my deluded mind I thought, I just beat you ME. Even while she threw thumping headaches at me, nausea, sleepless nights, sore muscles, weak legs, I still thought I had beaten her. CRAZY.
Had I the chance to step back and undo this race, I probably wouldn’t, I’d still stand on that start line. It was all part of my path to acceptance and changing the fight towards my friend…