Monday, November 11, 2019

It's a Sign - Camp Hyannis 2020



From "The Adventures of Runnergirl 1953":

That’s Why We Are the Greatest Sport Camp Hyannis 2016

“It’s a sign!” a group of runners exclaimed as they walked by my table at the Hyannis Race Expo.

They picked up my medal from the Bermuda Half Marathon.

“We were just talking about how we have to run Bermuda. We are putting it on our bucket list.”

The Mystic Runners from Wakefield, Massachusetts were deeply moved by my inspirational journey. In that moment of synchronicity, we became fast friends.

Paulie has been gracious and generous to offer me a table at the Expo to sell my books and inspire runners with my journey. The 2015 weekend was cancelled. It was a tough decision for any race director to make but treacherous weather conditions would have compromised the safety of the runners. I didn’t give a second thought about having a table at the 2016 Expo. I was running the 10K and planned to focus my energies on the race.

A friend messaged me on Facebook. “I’m so excited you have a table at the Expo this year. I saw your name on the table. Can’t wait to see you!”

I grabbed my Hyannis Half Marathon medal, my Boston Marathon finisher photo and medal, the few books I had on hand and my business cards. At the last minute, I put my Bermuda Half Marathon finisher medal in the box...




The other day on Facebook, MaryBeth, the Mystic who I met in 2016 posted this as her status:
Damn them. I’m being talked into another race. Well, actually, they were just discussing one. It’s always Michelle Marchese Corrado who starts these things. I was surprised to learn that I’ve only run 9 half marathons. I must have lost some medals.....



"Which one? I vote for Hyannis," I replied.

MaryBeth replied, "It IS Hyannis!"

"I just got goosebumps...I am going to be one of the guest speakers this year!" I said.

"Mary McManus well, there’s my sign. We’ll be there!..."Hey, that rhymes! Mary McManus, it is Hyannis. Another sign."

Hyannis Marathon Weekend
holds so many incredible memories for me.

We call it Camp Hyannis! All of our Camp Hyannis Adventures are included in The Adventures of Runnergirl 1953."

Here are a few cherished memories of our Camp Hyannis times:


I ran my first Half Marathon at Hyannis on the road to the 2009 Boston Marathon. I was embraced by the running community and running greats Bill Rodgers and Frank Shorter. I've been blessed to meet Jacqueline Hansen, who also wrote the Foreword to "Going the Distance: The Power of Endurance," the 2nd book in my Trilogy of Transformation. Jack Fultz, Team Hoyt, Dick Beardsley and Jimmy Garcia are a few of the other running greats we mixed and mingled with through the years.

Friendships have been forged and sustained through the decades at Camp Hyannis.

I am deeply honored and over the moon excited to be a guest speaker this year at the Pre-Race Pasta Dinner. I was inspired to reach out to Paul Collyer, aka Paulie who is the Mastermind behind Camp Hyannis weekend if he would like me to be a guest speaker at Hyannis Marathon Weekend 2020.

His reply was, "You would be welcome to speak to crowd...I believe I will also have steve jones and bill in house.
Please send a brief "promo"."

Tom and Ruth Anne are going to run the 10K.

I'll be sharing my inspirational story once again at the Expo and address the "crowd" gathered at the Pre-Race Pasta Dinner.

We'll experience the joy of reunion with our running family, celebrate healing, health and wellness and be open to whatever synchronicity and serendipity happen at Camp Hyannis 2020.

To register for Hyannis Marathon Weekend, follow this link.

See you at the starting line!

To your health and wellness
From my heart to yours
Mary

Be sure to visit my website at www.marymcmanus.com

Hear my interview with Kendra Petrone on Magic 106.7's Exceptional Women Show by following this link

My books are available on Amazon

Friday, November 8, 2019

The Missing Puzzle Piece



Facebook reminded me of this post from one year ago:
It's been quite a day. I must say that on the whole grace is greater than the unbelievable situations I encountered today. I remembered to maintain equanimity in the face of a**holes and that there are so many wonderful people in our village and in the Brookline community. A huge shout out of gratitude to our Emergency Responders Brookline MA Police Department who once again responded with compassion to Ruth Anne's crisis that required hospitalization. For those of you counting that's #5 since February. Her new DMH worker seems wonderful and I am hoping that DMH will step up to the plate especially after alleged inappropriate behavior by her previous worker who also was incredibly ineffective in his role. But I am also hoping that Ruth Anne will step up to the plate and do the work necessary for recovery. I am praying that the Team will change meds to give her relief and give her the boost she needs so she can do the work. I am exhausted after cleaning and laundry and many many phone calls today and continuing to ensure that her interests are protected but I feel so blessed and grateful for all the amazing people that I DID encounter today. Thank you ALL for your love and prayers. Please keep them coming. She is on 5W at St. Elizabeth's in Brighton.
Time for a good dinner, a hot shower and unwinding time.


There would be many more crises and 9 more hospitalizations until I found the missing puzzle piece in August of this year.

When Ruth Anne first entered the world of psychiatric hospitalizations, the OT's recommended that we do jigsaw puzzles to help with anxiety and to ease her off of her compulsion to go on the internet that triggered a worsening of psychiatric symptoms.

For 2 of the several puzzles we worked on, we were missing the last piece.

One piece we found under the sofa stuck in the radiator.

Despite turning the house upside down, we could not find the other puzzle piece.

One day we were cleaning out our car and lo and behold, there it was!

I taped it to my journal that we bought from Dr. Joe Dispenza's store.


It was a reminder to stay connected to the Divine even in the situations where there seemed to be no hope. Appearances, as I have learned throughout my healing journey, are not what they seem.

We rode the waves of crisis after crisis. We prayed and asked our friends for prayers. We wanted relief for Ruth Anne and for us.

I met Anthony Espina years ago at a Christmas Fair in Boston. He was here with his mother to explore Berklee College of Music. He didn't get accepted and will be the first to tell you that it was the greatest blessing in his life. He posted on Facebook that he was proud and honored to have written the score for the movie, "My Kid is Not Crazy." You can listen to the compelling and moving score on his website.

Our dear friends posted about their 6 year old daughter who was experiencing alarming symptoms of behavior change, restricted eating, not being able to put on clothes and a radical personality change. She was diagnosed with PANS.

Ruth Anne was complaining of symptoms of UTI's and an ear infection at different times throughout the course of those months of hell but, because of her dire psychiatric symptoms, no one was paying attention to working up possible physical causes for her condition.

And then a light bulb went off for me.

I remembered Ruth Anne's history of strep and chronic infections and how, at the age of 6, after having her adenoids removed and having had tubes in her ears, her kindergarten teacher asked me what happened to Ruth Anne. She had difficulty paying attention and would "space out" and her once outgoing, fun loving personality seemed to all but disappear.

We were blessed with a first grade teacher who took great pains to help her learn how to read and we hired a tutor.

At her third grade parent-teacher conference, her teacher welled up with emotion as she showed us samples of Ruth Anne's work. She wrote in yellow crayon all over the page in barely legible handwriting. She was upset she did not know about Ruth Anne's history of hearing loss which had been corrected with surgery or her struggles in earlier grades. We had Ruth Anne tested and placed on a 504 ed plan. She was diagnosed with ADD and Ritalin was recommended. We don't know what we don't know. The Ritalin fueled the fires of her food restriction that occurred after strep and pneumonia. She underwent testing at MGH, taken off Ritalin, diagnosed with GERD and placed on high doses of prilosec. An earth angel of a teacher, an Occupational Therapist and a few wonderful special education teachers helped her to graduate high school.

Things seemed to quiet down as she received an Associates Degree from Bunker Hill Community College with help from on campus tutors and support from me at home. She went into a deep depression when her plans to move to California fell apart after graduation from BHCC.

She decided she would go to Middle Tennessee State University, get in state tuition, work and go to school and follow her passion in the Country Music industry. She struggled through the days and would ask for plane tickets to come home and to Face Time with us on a daily basis. She got painfully thin and became obsessed with yoga and exercise. Yet somehow she managed to make it through and graduate with high honors.

When she returned home, the proverbial wheels fell off the wagon and two years after she came home the cycle of hospitalizations, med trials and error with mostly error and wondering what was going on began.

With this last siege of crises and the Universe pinging me about PANS, I did my research. I reached out to her primary care provider who promised me he would do a work up for the UTI's and would consider the possibility of long term antibiotics. He shared my hypothesis with her psychiatrist.

On September 6th, after her 14th and final hospitalization, her urine had an exceptionally high white blood cell count. Despite a negative culture, her PCP started her on high doses of antibiotics. I started her on ibuprofen 3X/day and adjusted her psych meds based on her presentation post discharge. St. Elizabeth's discharged her without doing the urine culture as I requested and she was not on a therapeutic level of her meds.

After a week and a consultation with a urogynecologist, and staying off of the internet which is a trigger for hallucinations and psychiatric symptoms given the brain inflammation, she began to clear. We hit a speed bump when she went back on the internet and had a therapist who was enabling her and allowing her to keep her behaviors secret which is all a part of OCD and PANS. Ruth Anne finally told us what happened. We fired the therapist, the Department of Mental Health worker and the social worker from the police department all of whom were unhelpful because they did not understand PANS and were creating conflict within Ruth Anne.

When I accompanied her to her appointment with her psychiatrist, she told him she was doing much better.

"That's a blessing," he said and asked what else he could do to help.

He made sure she has a new therapist and that a referral to Occupational Therapy was in place. He put in for med refills and said that if there's anything we need to reach out to him. He also told us that he never believed the diagnoses of schizophrenia or bipolar disorder but could not figure out what was going on. He treated me with great professional courtesy and Ruth Anne with the dignity and integrity she deserved all along.

She is running again although it is slow going as she begins the marathon of healing mind, body and soul.



She'll be running the Somerville Jingle Bell Run 5K and the Hyannis 10K with Tom both BA Event Promotions events that welcome all paces for their races.

She volunteers and for the first time in 5 years believes she has a future although she is keenly aware of the toll PANS has taken on her brain.

We take it one day at a time giving thanks and feeling blessed for when things go smoothly and take deep breaths as we get through the tough miles that come with PANS.

Ruth Anne has a long road ahead but she is past the starting line of this marathon of healing now that we have found the missing puzzle piece.

Ruth Anne has given me permission to share her journey with the hope that it can help someone else!

To your health and wellness
From my heart to yours
Mary

Be sure to visit my website at www.marymcmanus.com

Hear my interview with Kendra Petrone on Magic 106.7's Exceptional Women Show by following this link

My books are available on Amazon





Tuesday, November 5, 2019

#LaCosteStrong Update - Don't Give Up! - All You Need is Love



On September 18th, I wrote a blog, "#LaCoste Strong - A Community of Love, Kindness and Big Hearts" featuring how a community came together to support Kevin and Ali LaCoste and their beautiful family following a fall that led to a traumatic spinal cord injury.

I feel goosebumps all over as I share this update with you.

On September 28th over 1100 people gathered for the 6th Annual Middlemiss Big Heart 5K. A portion of the proceeds went to their first ever race beneficiary, The LaCoste family.

There was not a dry eye on the field as Kevin addressed the crowd over the loud speaker:

"I'm a little sad I can't join you but next year I will definitely be there to celebrate Joseph and all the beautiful things he has done to inspire us even in his short life. Today... today while you're out there think about something you're grateful for and find a way to do some small kind act this week. Not only do the kind act but really think about how it made someone feel and think about how it made you feel as well. I hope everyone has a great day today and most importantly if you see Jack Middlemiss tell him I'm looking to kick his butt when I get home."

That last comment about Jack was in reference to a Q and A Ali had back on September 20th in which we were able to ask Kevin both light hearted and serious questions. Ali limited the questions to 10 but just had to include a Bonus Question from Jack:
11. Bonus Question!!!!! What are you going to do when I come to Spaulding and kick your butt? (Jack Middlemiss)

Kevin: I’m going to ride circles around you in my wheelchair until you get dizzy, then I’ll push you down, and kick your butt!!!! Do you want to piece of me? Or the whole thing?


I was blessed to accompany Ali and Kevin to the Abilities Expo on September 13th. Kevin and Ali had the opportunity to explore resources and equipment that would improve their quality of life as Kevin recovers from his injury.


As Kevin readied for discharge from Spaulding, Ali posted this about their new van:

Because of the wonderful people in our lives, Kevin and I were able to purchase a vehicle that will allow us to have the freedom of a “typical” family. Though the idea of driving a “mom-van” has never thrilled me, this car is completely awesome. The front seat pops right out, so that Kevin can ride up front where he belongs.

When he tried it out today, he navigated in and out of the car with such ease. He’s already a pro at figuring out this new challenge of his!

For those who have donated, fundraised, bought a t-shirt etc. Thank you. You took so much stress away from the pain of car-buying. You’re allowing me to help transport my husband in style.




The day everyone was waiting for happened on October 12th. Kevin was discharged from Spaulding Rehab Hospital after spending 83 days away from his home.



All the money was raised and crews worked tirelessly around the clock to make sure that Kevin would return home to a house that was accessible for him.

You & Me: We got this. That’s the sign that Kevin and I walked in to see in our beautiful new bedroom this past Saturday. I’ve repeated this statement to Kevin and to myself countless times over the past 3 days. I’ve wanted to reach out to you all and tell you that everything has been great. That our transition was seamless and it’s been easy. I’ve wanted to tell you that I’ve been an amazing caretaker and Kevin couldn’t be in better hands.... but I’ve been honest with all of you from the beginning, so I’m not going to start sugarcoating things now.

Saturday we came home to our dream home. Love and kindness radiated from every part. Signs lined the streets- made by the children who Kevin has influenced in some positive way. We were driving our new car that fundraisers helped us purchase. We were accompanied by my sister in law Lori LaCoste O'Donnell and brother in law Craig O'Donnell- who wouldn’t have let us travel that road alone. We came home to our excited children and my parents (Gail Buccini). We were joined by Kevin’s mom(Brenda Taylor LaCoste). There was so much love- along with a mix of emotions- fear, sadness, happiness, and uncertainty.

On this day of our return, when Kevin exited our car, he went in the opposite direction- away from the house. I had no idea what he was doing. He went onto the road and stopped in front of the tree where the accident happened. He paused for a while, released some tears and reflected on the fleeting moment in time when he was trying to be a silly dad and it all went wrong. And then he rolled into his new beautifully accessible home- with deck and patio to boot.... and shed some more tears, for a different reason this time.

The few days we’ve been here have been completely overwhelming. But with each day we know things will get easier and more routine. We know that in times of need, we have a HUGE army of supporters. And in due time, we’ll be calling on all of you to check in on and visit us. ❤️💜❤️

I can’t say that things will be perfect or that we’ll know what to do with every twist and turn.

What I can say with an open heart and true belief is that Kevin and I do “got this!” There is so much love in our home and surrounding us from all aspects of our lives. All four of us sleeping under one roof is a dream come true- no matter the circumstance.




Ali posted wonderful photos of the family experiencing watching their son's Saturday Flag Football and Baseball games:


They went to a friend's house to watch Patriots Football:


Right after Kevin’s accident I often thought of how was I ever going to be strong enough to get through this. I knew that I needed support, so I did some online research and found a few Facebook support groups. I quickly joined them and read the experiences others have handled- and tried to imagine the tumultuous road that we were destined to travel.

Most upsetting about some of these posts was that many complained that their friends and families abandoned them in their time of need. Now, I understand that every story is different and people handle problems in their own ways, but I couldn’t help but feel heartbroken. And I also felt so fortunate that I knew that would never happen to us.

Tonight, my feelings were affirmed. We had friends who sought us out, made sure they had space that Kevin could get to and had us over for a “normal” Patriots game viewing. The room was cozy, the fire blazing (which is good because Kevin is so often cold). We had munchies, beverages, and good conversations. Jonathan Ash and Colleen Donohoe Ash have proven to be true friends and in this new world we’re navigating we need them now more than ever. ❤️

It goes without saying that Lori LaCoste O'Donnell and Craig O'Donnell are also in it for the long haul. But we’re pretty happy that they’ve been hanging around a lot too. 😘
#LaCosteStrong


They were reunited with Kevin's inpatient team at MGH ICU, some of whom had never heard Kevin's voice because of the tracheotomy, when they went for a follow up visit with Kevin's surgical team:


Lisa Hughes and David Wade did a follow up story on WBZ that you can watch with a box of tissues by following this link.

Kevin Staffin exceeded his goal of $3000 to raise money for his dear friend Kevin and had to man up to his part of the deal that if he reached his fundraising goal (and he raised $3781) before he ran the New York City Marathon then he'd have to don Red Sox gear and make it his Facebook profile picture for at least a week! Kevin S. is a die hard Yankees fan.


Here is his finish photo from the Marathon which he dedicated to Kevin (notice the red socks):


And then on 10/31, we saw a Facebook post that brought goosebumps and tears:
Dear Robinson Families,

We are so happy to announce that, tomorrow morning, Mr. LaCoste will be coming to the Robinson School for a visit. We will come together as a school community in the cafeteria, and Mr. LaCoste will read us all a fun story and talk about the different SPIRIT core values the story addresses. We all look forward to spending some time with Mr. LaCoste!

Students are encouraged to wear a "LaCoste Strong" shirt, or a blue/gray-colored shirt, for this special visit.

This will, hopefully, be the first of many visits from our beloved principal.




I had a feeling it was no coincidence that Kevin was returning to his school on the day that Andy Grammer was going to be in Boston for the last concert of his Don't Give Up Tour.

Kevin's Army as we have come to be known flooded Twitter and Instagram with messages to Andy Grammer about why he should connect with Kevin while in Boston. With the help of angels both on earth and in heaven, including Erin O'Malley Mandeville of Boston's Mix 104.1, Andy Grammer sent this message out to Kevin and the Robinson School:



Here's the full video of Kevin's return to his school. I highly recommend you watch the entire video and feel the love surrounding but if you fast forward to 7:43, you'll see the kids singing Don't Give Up on Me to Kevin and then the surprise video from Andy Grammer:


Life happens. Tragedy strikes. Somehow with gratitude and faith, kindness and a village surrounding we don't give up and make it through.

All you need is love and as we follow the journey of #lacostestrong we see that theme resurface time and time again.

You can donate to the LaCoste Strong GoFundMe page by following this link.

To your health and wellness
From my heart to yours
Mary

Be sure to visit my website at www.marymcmanus.com

Hear my interview with Kendra Petrone on Magic 106.7's Exceptional Women Show by following this link

My books are available on Amazon





Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Exercise is a Blessing!



Allison Lamarre-Poole, my beloved physical therapist at Spaulding Rehab Hospital was ready to discharge me from outpatient physical therapy. She was moving on from Spaulding to be a traveling physical therapist. I had reached the maximum number of sessions for outpatient care and had achieved the goals we set after the diagnosis of Post-Polio Syndrome. I was referred to her in February of 2007 after undergoing cervical spine injections for a disc pressing on a nerve. She did not subscribe to the belief of the doctors in the Post-Polio community that if you use it you will lose it. Yes you read that correctly. The belief was that because of the limited number of neurons available to support neuromuscular functioning as a result of the initial polio virus, they would burn out at an accelerated rate if taxed. Allison believed that I was not destined to be in a wheelchair and that I could regain functioning. Although it's over 12 years ago since that day in May when we had a tearful yet incredibly joyful farewell, I still remember her words to me. "You are going to continue using the program I gave you right? You don't ever want to go back to where you were."

I said with the courage of my convictions, "Absolutely not! YES! I am going to continue to take care of myself mind, body and soul and I will continue to exercise and get stronger."

I had a packet of exercises that I did faithfully while experiencing healing through writing poetry and no longer having the stress of my career as a VA social worker.

In October of 2007, the Universe led me to connect with Janine Hightower, a personal trainer. We were talking about my greeting card business and her personal training business and having me join her networking group BNI.

From "The Adventures of Runnergirl 1953":

Shortly after being discharged from outpatient physical therapy I met Janine Hightower through Herb Simmons. He knew Janine through his participation in the Cardiac Rehab program at Boston Medical Center. I was launching my business New World Greeting Cards, original poetry for every occasion. She was a member of BNI, a professional networking group. As we sat in my living room, she talked about BNI and the benefits of being a member of this networking group. As she talked, I wasn’t focused on growing my business. My mind zeroed in on her sharing with us how she used BNI to promote her in home personal training business.

“You know I’m curious,” I said to Janine. “Do you think you could help me? I was just discharged from Spaulding Rehab.”

I went on to tell her about my journey.

“I don’t know,” she said “but I’d certainly be happy to set up an assessment with you.”

I couldn’t even pass the initial fitness assessment.

“You’re way too young to not be able to get off of the toilet seat without holding on to the sink or to not be able to get off of the couch,” she said to me.

It was a statement of fact without judgment. She spoke the truth about my deconditioned physical state. I signed on to work with her once a week in personal training. I had no idea what or why I was doing this. I did know that if I was going to be in pain, I’d prefer to feel the pain of recovery instead of the pain of decline. Janine held enough faith for both of us that I could come out of my leg brace and have a good quality of life despite the diagnosis and prognosis I received.

Janine’s mantra for our work together was a quote from Henry Ford, “Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right!”

At my six-month evaluation in February, I made dramatic improvements in every area of the assessment. I had come out of my leg brace. I knew I was on a healing path.

“Let’s write down your goals for the next six months,” Janine said feeling proud and satisfied with my progress.

“Well I want to feel free in my body. I want to dance. I want to be able to walk outside and feel unencumbered when I take a walk.”

Janine feverishly wrote down my goals, and we worked out a plan. She gathered up her belongings and had her hand on the door knob.

“Wait. I have one more goal.”

Janine stopped and turned around.

“I want to run the Boston Marathon for Spaulding Rehab Hospital. I know they have a Race for Rehab team and I want to do it next year.”

Did you ever have one of those moments when words fell out of your mouth after rising up from the depths of your soul without going through any thought process?

Janine was non-plussed. I don’t know what kept her from turning tail and getting as far away from me as she could. She came back into my house, set down her things and without missing a beat said, “Well the first thing you are going to need is a pair of running shoes.”

She laid out a cursory training plan and said that we would begin indoors to build up my cardio endurance. As soon as the weather got a little warmer, we’d go outdoors and I would learn how to run.


I began the journey of a lifetime and discovered the joy (and at times agony) of running. Allison and Janine planted the seeds for me to discover the thrill of experiencing a regular health and wellness regimen and testing my mettle and my limits.

I know there are many who experience exercise as drudgery or punishment.



I am blessed that I had the experience of paralytic polio and then the diagnosis of Post-Polio Syndrome so that I can savor and embrace every day that I have the opportunity to run, swim or work out. As part of my gratitude journal, I express thanks to my body for all it allows me to do. I know the perils of paralysis and the shock of the diagnosis of a progressive neuromuscular disease 13 years ago.

Exercise is a blessing and movement is a gift.

To your health and wellness
From my heart to yours
Mary

Be sure to visit my website at www.marymcmanus.com

Hear my interview with Kendra Petrone on Magic 106.7's Exceptional Women Show by following this link

My books are available on Amazon and "Feel the Heal" and "The Adventures of Runnergirl 1953" are available in Natick Center Cultural District at Paula Romero Dunbar's Celebration Boutique Paper Fiesta coincidentally located on Mile 10 of the Boston Marathon Route.

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Autumn Splendor Revealed in Our Morning Runs



We have been blessed with a most spectacular Autumn this year in Boston with moderate temps and glorious sunshine. I'm going to do something a little different in today's blog inspired by a 10 day photo challenge from Steve Jones on Facebook. Here are scenes from our morning runs for you to savor and enjoy as much as we did while getting in our miles.





The evidence for the benefits of nature on mental and physical health are numerous and last year, doctors in Scotland began writing nature prescriptions for their patients.

Why not write one for yourself and experience splendor of the seasons wherever you may be!

To your health and wellness
From my heart to yours
Mary

Be sure to visit my website at www.marymcmanus.com

Hear my interview with Kendra Petrone on Magic 106.7's Exceptional Women Show by following this link

My books are available on Amazon and "Feel the Heal" and "The Adventures of Runnergirl 1953" are available in Natick Center Cultural District at Paula Romero Dunbar's Celebration Boutique Paper Fiesta coincidentally located on Mile 10 of the Boston Marathon Route.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Celebrating 13 Years of Healing....Part III - I'm a Runner



It's World Polio Day: “A world where no child lives in fear of paralysis from poliovirus”

World Polio Day is October 24 and arrives at a critical moment for the polio eradication program. In 2019, the program has seen both important milestones and has faced critical challenges.

In 2019, we will celebrate a couple of incredible milestones: the 25th anniversary of the polio-free status of the Region of the Americas and the Global Certification Commission’s certification of the eradication of type 3 wild poliovirus (WPV3). The announcement of the eradication of WPV3 will signify an important step toward a polio-free world with only one type of wild poliovirus (WPV type 1) still in circulation in just two countries, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Despite this tremendous progress, the final mile to eradication is an uphill road and will not be easy. The global polio program is facing multiple, ongoing, serious challenges with the increase in the number of wild poliovirus cases and the continued spread of circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus (cVDPV) outbreaks in countries around the world. In 2018, we saw an increase in wild polio cases with 33 reported cases in two countries – Afghanistan and Pakistan. As of October 24, 2019, a total of 95 cases of wild polio have been reported. The two-remaining polio-endemic countries must reach all children with polio vaccine to achieve zero wild poliovirus cases, and ultimately for the world to achieve polio eradication. This will require increased commitments from governments, local communities, donor partners and multilateral organizations. Furthermore, to address the ongoing circulating vaccine-derived polio viruses, all countries must work to strengthen their immunization programs to close any gaps and ensure that all children are protected against polio – the world depends on it!


I was called one of the lucky ones in June 1959 because I did not need to be in an iron lung and had movement returned to my right side fairly quickly after contracting the virus. I was in a leg brace for 3 years and was in physical therapy for 8 years to coax weakened muscles and nerves back to health.

I am one of the miraculous ones who have made a full recovery after the diagnosis of Post-Polio Syndrome in December of 2006. I was called to the sport of running despite all appearances to the contrary and became, what Dave McGillivray calls, "a most unlikely runner!"

On the road to the 2009 Boston Marathon, I tested my mind, body and soul in every imaginable way. The running community welcomed me with open arms; quite the contrast to the jeers, taunts and teasing I experienced from my peers while lugging a full metal leg brace or being called "Easy Out Alper" in gym class.

I cried and poured sweat not knowing at times what was sweat and what was tears. With each mile and every foot strike I was transformed from being a survivor of paralytic polio and trauma to a powerful, resilient woman emboldened through the sport of running to share my story and leave the past behind.



It was a moment of redemption when I crossed the finish line of the 2009 Boston Marathon:


But my quest to heal did not end after I crossed the finish line of the 2009 Boston Marathon. I had been bitten by the running bug but I needed to take time off from running to heal after putting my body through the grueling Boston Marathon training.

I went back to Dr. El Abd, my cervical spine doctor and he referred me to physical therapy. She wasn't so sure if I would ever be able to return to the roads but I agreed to take time off if she would help me be in the best possible shape to run again.

That summer I was back on the roads!


My life came to a screeching halt after my nephew's suicide in March of 2011 and I turned away from the sport that was my medicine not realizing that it was the very thing I needed to keep on going.

But once a runner...always a runner and after the 2013 Boston Marathon, I had a wake up call to get back to the sport that had given me so much joy and healing.

I had an epic running come back until December of 2014 when my left knee blew out. I was told it was game over. I really never should have started running in the first place. The MRI showed that my knee had torn cartilage beyond repair, bone spurs, degenerative arthritis, and was told to prepare for a total knee replacement in a few years. And since I was going to run anyway, I needed to cap my distance at a 5K.

I took a referral to physical therapy and made an appointment with the Post-Polio Clinic for a reassessment having been told that it was only a matter of time before the decline associated with Post Polio Syndrome began again.

I fired the physical therapist and cancelled the appointment for a re-evaluation of my degenerative neuromuscular condition and was led to a wonderful chiropractor. He was enthralled with my journey and held the same beliefs about the body's tremendous capacity for healing beyond what we were ever led to believe.

We used mind/body techniques, chiropractic, KT taping and a new strength training regimen to prevent further injury to help get me back on the roads.

In July of 2015, I had my comeback race where I met the Race Director for the Bermuda Marathon Weekend:

Anthony Raynor and Clarence Smith had me at hello at the Bermuda Marathon Weekend Booth at the Finish at the 50 Expo. Tom started chatting with Clarence "Stoker" Smith. I hung back but cocked an ear to the conversation. I gingerly eyed the pink Bermuda wrist bands, the bling from Bermuda Marathon Weekend races and the samples of pink sand. I glanced at Tom and felt we each had a tug at our souls. The tug got stronger with each moment we talked with Clarence and Anthony. We reminisced about when we went to Bermuda. I felt goosebumps and a warm feeling come over me, while a part of me was wondering why was I even having this conversation about running in Bermuda. Several months ago I was told to cap my distance and prepare for a total knee replacement.

“If you can get up to the Half Marathon distance, you’ll be better off than running the 10K with all of its steep hills,” Anthony said in his delicious Bermudian accent.

“The last time I was in Bermuda I was in a leg brace using a cane and a wheelchair.”

Clarence's wife said, "Look at you now girl."

There was no stopping me now. We exchanged information. Clarence told us he'd pick us up at the airport. I chatted with Anthony about the weather in January.

"Look," he said with a deep warm laugh, "I was told you people still have piles of snow near the Seaport Hotel from this past winter. I can guarantee you this. You will have no snow in Bermuda in January."

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails.” ~Mark Twain

It was time to sail away from safe harbor and go the distance again. This time on the magical Island of Bermuda.

“Running is about finding your inner peace and so is a life well lived. Run with your heart.” ~Dean Karnazes


I went on to run 3 Bermuda Half Marathons in as many years having wonderful training and running adventures along the way.

I'm blessed and grateful to be celebrating 13 years of healing from the effects of paralytic polio and severe childhood trauma and praying for the day when polio is eradicated worldwide.

I went from being told to prepare to spend the rest of my life in a wheelchair to many finish lines and so very blessed and proud to call myself a runner.



To your health and wellness
From my heart to yours
Mary

Be sure to visit my website at www.marymcmanus.com

Hear my interview with Kendra Petrone on Magic 106.7's Exceptional Women Show by following this link

My books are available on Amazon and "Feel the Heal" and "The Adventures of Runnergirl 1953" are available in Natick Center Cultural District at Paula Romero Dunbar's Celebration Boutique Paper Fiesta coincidentally located on Mile 10 of the Boston Marathon Route.








Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Celebrating 13 Years of Healing...Part II - Transformation



My life came to a screeching halt after receiving the diagnosis of Post-Polio Syndrome in December of 2006. I took a leap of faith on May 25th 2007 leaving behind my award winning career as a VA social worker to heal my life. After being discharged from Spaulding Rehab Outpatient Clinic, I worked my home exercise program and continued to write poetry. I sought out a publisher for "New World Greetings: Inspirational Poetry and Musings for a New World." I started feeling better filled with hope yet terrified for letting go of a steady paycheck and my 25 year career as a social worker.



From Coming Home: A Memoir of Healing, Hope and Possibility:
Shortly after being discharged from outpatient physical therapy I met Janine Hightower through Herb Simmons. He knew Janine through his participation in the Cardiac Rehab program at Boston Medical Center. I was launching my business New World Greeting Cards, original poetry for every occasion. She was a member of BNI, a professional networking group. As we sat in my living room, she talked about BNI and the benefits of being a member of this networking group. As she talked, I wasn’t focused on growing my business. My mind zeroed in on her sharing with us how she used BNI to promote her in home personal training business.

“You know I’m curious,” I said to Janine. “Do you think you could help me? I was just discharged from Spaulding Rehab.”

I went on to tell her about my journey.

“I don’t know,” she said “but I’d certainly be happy to set up an assessment with you.”

I couldn’t even pass the initial fitness assessment.

“You’re way too young to not be able to get off of the toilet seat without holding on to the sink or to not be able to get off of the couch,” she said to me.

It was a statement of fact without judgment. She spoke the truth about my deconditioned physical state. I signed on to work with her once a week in personal training. I had no idea what or why I was doing this. I did know that if I was going to be in pain, I’d prefer to feel the pain of recovery instead of the pain of decline. Janine held enough faith for both of us that I could come out of my leg brace and have a good quality of life despite the diagnosis and prognosis I received.

Janine’s mantra for our work together was a quote from Henry Ford, “Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right!”


I could not pass the initial fitness evaluation she gave me. After our first workout session together, I could barely move the next day. I discovered muscles I did not even know existed in my body. I made a promise to myself that if I were going to experience pain, I would prefer to feel pain on the side of getting healthy than the pain of decline.

This is a photo of me from Christmas 2007:


Janine held enough faith for both of us that I would and could get stronger. Once a week she came to my house armed with weights and exercises, words of kindness and encouragement yet always pushing me to help bring me out of my once deconditioned state.

From "The Adventures of Runnergirl 1953":
At my six-month evaluation in February, I made dramatic improvements in every area of the assessment. I had come out of my leg brace. I knew I was on a healing path.

“Let’s write down your goals for the next six months,” Janine said feeling proud and satisfied with my progress.

“Well I want to feel free in my body. I want to dance. I want to be able to walk outside and feel unencumbered when I take a walk.”

Janine feverishly wrote down my goals, and we worked out a plan. She gathered up her belongings and had her hand on the door knob.

“Wait. I have one more goal.”

Janine stopped and turned around.

“I want to run the Boston Marathon for Spaulding Rehab Hospital. I know they have a Race for Rehab team and I want to do it next year.”

Did you ever have one of those moments when words fell out of your mouth after rising up from the depths of your soul without going through any thought process?

Janine was non-plussed. I don’t know what kept her from turning tail and getting as far away from me as she could. She came back into my house, set down her things and without missing a beat said, “Well the first thing you are going to need is a pair of running shoes.”

She laid out a cursory training plan and said that we would begin indoors to build up my cardio endurance. As soon as the weather got a little warmer, we’d go outdoors and I would learn how to run.

What had I just done?




I committed myself to a herculean goal. I had never run a day in my life yet I was called to become a runner and run a marathon - and not just any marathon mind you but THE Boston Marathon.

Poetry continued to flow out of me. My story was shared in The Brookline Tab and reader's comments fueled my journey:


Since she was a little girl, Mary McManus had rarely moved faster than a walk.

But last month, the former polio patient bought her first pair of running shoes. And now she’s training for a marathon.

Paralyzed by polio at the age of 5, the Brookline mother of two now spends every day fighting back against the crippling effects of the disease that still threatens to rob her of her strength and mobility 50 years later. She said she won’t stop until she runs her first marathon.

“I just know with every fiber in my body that we will,” she said. “It’s all happening.”

McManus faces an uphill battle. Though polio itself has been virtually eradicated from the developed world, McManus is one of more than 440,000 Americans who could see a resurgence of symptoms decades later, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. Scientists believe this resurgence, called post-polio syndrome, is a result of natural aging and stress on the motor neurons that survive an initial polio attack.

Polio survivors learn to depend on these motor neurons as they recover, and can live relatively normal lives before they give out later in life, according to Mary Cole, a senior occupational therapist at the International Center for Polio in Framingham.

“There’s usually a long period of stability,” said Cole. “If not, there’s something else going on.”

Cole teaches post-polio patients how to save their energy, and recommends that many start using the braces and canes they once used as kids. “It’s about improving quality of life,” she said.

“A lot of people think exercise is what can get you through this, and that’s not the case,” Cole said. “Most of these patients have been overusing these muscles, and we need to find a balance.”

But McManus said she refuses to slow down. She wants to prove that other post-polio patients don’t have to, either.

“I’m here to let them know that that might be true for some people, but it doesn’t have to that way,” she said.

I was running to not only reclaim my life; to move out of a mindset of disability and emotional and physical paralysis. I was running to inspire others.

Readers commented on the on line version of the article.
DEAR MARY I'M SO PROUD OF YOU AND WISH YOU THE BEST OF THE BEST AT EVERY GOAL YOU ARE A GREAT WOMAN, I'M THINKING ABOUT MY LIFE IS A POST POLIO PERSON AND WISH I CAN DO THE SAME YOU DOING NOW
GOD BLESS YOU AND YOUR FAMILY
RAUL CORNEJO

Hello Mary, i stumbled onto your story.
I had polio when i was 14 months old; 27 years after, i still struggle with the physical and 'mostly' the emotional trials that accompany polio.
I'm a doctor so daily i encounter people with a variety of challenging conditions and i constantly draw strength from how different people embrace their unique situations.
I am particularly inspired by your unrelenting spirit, 50 years on!
I just got back from taking a long walk.
I was thinking about my life in general and saying to myself, are you just going to give in to polio without a fight?
I decided that i'll start running in the evenings to strengthen my calfs and increase my muscle bulk. During my walk, i also dealt with some emotional issues... but i digress.
I got home and got on the internet to see if there were any researched exercise routines beneficial to polio survivors, i wanted to be sure running was safe.
I got a lot of info, the unanimous advice was, don't over exert yourself, complete with the medical explanations why overexertion could be harmful.
I know running may be a stretch for me, i don't know how beneficial it will be, but i know that miracles still do happen.
Polio will not hinder me anymore. I am definitely gonna give it a shot.
I'll come back here to let you know my improvement.
I am very inspired by your determination and i thank you for sharing your story.
God bless you.

Hi Mary. I was listening to the radio the other night and I heard your interview. I don't know if you remember me but you took care of my husband George Murray while at the VA hospital as well as saving my life on a daily basis back then. You were truly my angel. I am so happy to have an opportunity to thank you for all you did for me back then and I have often wondered about how you were and then I heard you quite by accident as I still get up really early but the radio was on and I immediately recognized your voice. Do I think you will run this marathon, absolutely. You will do it. I am sorry you have gone through these health problems but you sound wonderful. I am going to get your book and I know I will love it. God bless you and I know he does.
Love
Maureen Murray

Maureen referenced my interview on The Jordan Rich Show on Boston’s WBZ radio.

If you'd met Mary last year and then again today, you will be pleasantly surprised by the changes in her. She positively radiates with energy and good cheer. If exercise is how she's made the changes then I definitely want to start moving more too. It would be nice to have a follow-up after she has run her marathon.
Beth Blutt

I think it is awesome that she has been able to rebuild her strength a second time. I am encouraged now to continue exercising myself and continue to accomplish as much as I can in my golden years instead of settling for couch potato status.
Linda DuPre


To be continued....


To your health and wellness
From my heart to yours
Mary

Be sure to visit my website at www.marymcmanus.com

Hear my interview with Kendra Petrone on Magic 106.7's Exceptional Women Show by following this link

My books are available on Amazon and "Feel the Heal" and "The Adventures of Runnergirl 1953" are available in Natick Center Cultural District at Paula Romero Dunbar's Celebration Boutique Paper Fiesta coincidentally located on Mile 10 of the Boston Marathon Route.