Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Gratitude and the Gift of Polio



While I have always had a deep appreciation for life and for all my body is able to do, that awareness and appreciation has been magnified in the wake of an accident that left Kevin LaCoste, friend and Team Big Heart Teammate, with a spinal cord injury.

The members of Team Big Heart and Kevin and Ali's Army of supporters have been dedicating our runs, walks and workouts to him to lend our strength, our prayers, our Love and to set the intention for the day when he will be joining us all again on the roads.

Yesterday morning's run gave us the gift of witnessing the sun breaking through the clouds and sending angel slides over Boston:


I end my Facebook posts dedicating our runs to #lacostestrong with "Every step is a gift. Every mile is a blessing."



After yesterday's run, I remembered one of the first poems I wrote after the diagnosis of Post-Polio Syndrome called, "The Gift of Polio":

The Gift of Polio from "Feel the Heal: An Anthology of Poems to Heal Your Life"
Thank you God for the gift of polio that brought me so close to you
while paralyzed I saw your face no matter what I’d do
Many wonderful healers you sent them to me at age 5
perseverance and triumph life’s lessons learned
but my Spirit could not yet thrive.

At age 53 the gift was sent to me a second time
having time to sit and feel to heal I started to rhyme.
The second time felt worse than the first
yet your love and wisdom I found
out of pain and weakness and fatigue a remarkable spirit rebound.

Reliving all the trauma of special shoes and such
I discovered remarkable healers who brought a loving touch.
I had no clue I had such strength and the ability to grow
no matter what the outcome deep gratitude I show.

This gift so precious I live a new life gratitude flows from me
my heart and soul are filled with grace each day’s a gift from thee.


I learned about the importance of gratitude from the works of Bernie Siegel, MD,, and the "new age" thinkers who drew from the wisdom of the ages.

Shortly after the diagnosis of a progressive neuromuscular disease as a result of childhood trauma and paralytic polio, I felt outraged, scared, overwhelmed, depressed and anxious. Once I got still and asked for Divine Guidance, the path opened before me for healing, hope and possibility. My pen became my divining rod for healing and poetry poured out of my soul inspiring mind, body and soul to heal!

I am humbled, blessed and grateful that I am able to share this journey from a wheelchair, leg brace, cane and the prognosis of a grim future to the finish line of the 2009 Boston Marathon and beyond!



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, August 11, 2019

Adventures of Runnergirl Race Spotlight: The 2014 Bill Rodgers 5K to Benefit Prostate Cancer



Yesterday was the 5 year anniversary of when I PR'ed the Bill Rodgers 5K to benefit Prostate Cancer. Photos popped up in my memory feed on Facebook. I thought it would be fun to provide photos and a video to accompany the narration from "The Adventures of Runnergirl 1953":

One Moment in Time: Race Report Bill Rodgers 5K Run/Walk to Benefit Prostate Cancer August 10, 2014


I was open to whatever my body was going to be able to do today. My mantra for today's race was light and joy. I wanted to thoroughly enjoy the day. I slept well and didn’t have the usual pre-race jitters. I had a good breakfast of a bagel, oatmeal, banana and orange juice. What a luxury to be able to get up at 6:45am on a race day and drive 10 minutes to the start of the race.

I had a sense of trust that this was going to be a good day.

When we arrived, race director Alain Ferry whom you may recall was also the organizer of the OneRun greeted us. He had been following my blog posts about my intention to PR for the race. He gave me a big bear hug and asked me to remind him what my goal was for today's race.

“I hope we see 47:00 minutes or less on the clock when you cross that finish line. Remind me again of your name?” Alain asked extending his hand to Tom.

“It’s Tom.”

“We met at the Heartbreak Hill Marathon weekend. I remember you.”

He warmly shook Tom’s hand and said, “Well I’ve got about a million things to do. See you back here.”

I reconnected with Bill Rodgers at his table while he sold copies of his book, “Marathon Man: My 26.2 Mile Journey From Unknown Grad Student to the Top of the Running World.” He remembered me and my story from Hyannis.

“How did you like the book?” Bill asked me.

“I loved it Bill,” I answered with a big smile. I shared with him parts of the book that resonated with me.

“Life is hard,” he said to me. “That’s why we run. If we can tough it out on the roads, we know we can tough it out in life.”

Bill turned and introduced us to his girlfriend Karen.

“I overheard your conversation with Billy. You’ve had an amazing journey. I’m a breast cancer survivor and started running in my 40’s after the diagnosis.”

We instinctively hugged even though we just met each other.

“Let’s get everyone over to the starting line,” Alain commanded through his bullhorn.

Pre-race announcements talked about the importance of supporting research, early detection and treatment for Prostate Cancer. Alain asked for a show of hands of those running affected by cancer. There was an astounding number of hands raised in the crowd. Alain handed Bill Rodgers the mic. He shared how he is a prostate cancer survivor.

“It is the #2 leading cause of cancer deaths among American men. We need to pay as much attention to prostate cancer for men as we do for breast cancer for women.”

Bill Rodgers went on in his pre-race remarks. “Running and walking is a simple little sport but we as Americans can use it to change the world.”

And then it was gun time and time for me to write another chapter of my story.
We started at the front of the pack with Bill Rodgers off to our left. I went out running fast through the campus of Boston College. Thirty years ago I received my Masters in Social Work degree and spent many many hours on that beautiful campus. The field took off and I adhered to my race plan. We'd run the downhill and I'd run for as long as I could and then move into race walking. When we got to the rolling hills of Commonwealth Avenue, I race walked. The sun was bright and the day heated up fast. We were grateful there was no humidity and we could go on the sidewalk for shade. We brought frozen water bottles that I used for hydration and to keep cool.

Mile 1 - 14:33 pace. I was blown away by my time but I knew that anything could happen over the next two point one miles.

Tom kept checking in with me. How was I feeling? Did anything hurt? I didn't talk much which is very unusual for me and I was breathing hard. I had a single-minded goal but I was running from the inside out.

In my training runs I had stopped to take a "water break.” At times I slowed my pace, but kept moving forward. We stopped for about 30 seconds at the water stop before it was time to tackle the hill with a 221' elevation.

Mile 2 - time was almost 30 minutes.

Okay I think I can. I think I can. I've got this. I can do this.

Tom said to me "What do we do with hills?"

"We eat them for breakfast," I managed to get out.

To the top of Beacon Street and a right onto College Road.

A right onto Commonwealth Avenue heading toward the finish.

Alain came out on his bike, "Oh there you are. "Come on you're almost there."

I was hot and my tank was close to empty.

As we headed toward the finish Alain told me I had less than a minute for my PR.

People gathered to cheer me on.

Alain was just on the other side of the finish line.

I sprinted to the finish and the finish clock read 46:57 gun time!

I knew in my heart and soul that I crossed more than a finish line. As I told Alain, I reclaimed my life. The essence of who I am took center stage. It was another moment of redemption achieved through running. I wrung out the grief from my nephew’s death. I ran as Boston Strong rinsing out the trauma of 4/15/13 with sweat and tears.

It's been one hell of a journey back since Charlie Louis Alper tragically and violently died on March 4th of 2011. Thanks to Alain and the OneRun, I knew I had to come back to the sport that had transformed my life. I realized it was more than coming back to running. It was setting a goal and once again challenging myself. It was opening up to see what my body could do leaving nothing on the roads. It was about testing my mettle and letting go of fear.

Alain shared with me that he didn't expect to find us as far up on Commonwealth Avenue as close to the finish line as he did. He was concerned about the heat and was coming to provide support regardless of the time on the clock. When he saw how close we were to the finish, he wanted that PR for me as much as I did. I felt as though I was being pulled into the vortex of the finish line by his loving energy and all those cheering me on.

"I saw you start to cry and then I saw a look come across your face. You dug deep during that sprint,” he said to me. “It was quite a moving moment for me as a Race Director to watch you come across that finish line with such visible fierce determination.”

During that final sprint, Tom let me set the pace. He could tell I was in the zone. Tom wept with me when we crossed the finish line. We both knew that I left pain, fear and doubt out on the course and in its wake, strength, courage, confidence, and healing surged.

Gratitude filled my heart for Facebook friends who I met for the first time who cheered me on and took photos, and to Alain who was there to celebrate and tend to me post race.
“Here is an ice water for you. Go get in the shade and here’s a couple of oranges for you and Tom. I’m so proud of you!”

Today was one moment in time - many moments in time that I will always cherish when I look back on my adventures as runner girl.


Pre-race photo with Alain:


Meeting Kathleen Healy Fencil, Facebook friend, in real life:


Pre-race photos with Bill Rodgers:


Phil Lipof, Boston News Anchor and Bill pre-race:


At start:


Coming down Chestnut Hill Avenue Photo Credit Kathleen and husband Tom:


Coming into the final stretch:


Hustling for a PR:


I did it!


Post race hug:


Post race celebration:




Official time:




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.




Saturday, August 10, 2019

On Running, Fog and Faith



Early on in my healing journey, I wrote a poem about sailing through the fog.
Sailing Through the Fog from "Feel the Heal: An Anthology of Poems to Heal Your Life":

Fog horn sounding loud and clear
I slowly make my way
sailing through the pea soup fog
across Nantucket Bay.

Ocean dark I used to fear
I feel my fear transform
the arms of God embrace me
trust and faith are now my norm.

Ride the tide of intuition
safe harbor shall I find
by being still and listening
attentive to my mind.

In the middle of the ocean
no land, no sun or sky
feel only love surround me
no need to shake or cry.

My faith is now my anchor
sail tethered to my Source
guided by the angels
I can safely chart my course.

Knowing when to take a turn
to steer to stern or port
instinctive navigation
I'll never come up short!

The freedom in the silence
waves lap the only sound
a comfort in my solitude
no other soul around.

Yet in the fog I sense them
other souls who once did live
the souls who went before me
love and knowledge did they give.

This journey is the answer
allow my soul to grow
the destination's not important
it's being in the flow.

Love and peace they are the beacon
to safe harbor will they lead
when I set my foot again on land
my soul has now been freed!


During Tuesday's early morning run, I was reminded of this poem as fog enveloped the Reservoir:


Tom and I are going through a very stressful time with our daughter who suffers from severe mental illness. Running in the fog was a wonderful metaphor for needing to have faith during this time of uncertainty.

For the 2nd year in a row, Ruth Anne spent her birthday in the hospital on August 7th. Many of you may already know we've had quite the journey with her during these past 5 years as she struggled with depression, an eating disorder, addictions, compulsions and the list goes on and on. Since January of 2017, she has been hospitalized 11 - that's right 11 times an average of every two months. I am deeply grateful for her insurance but so disheartened by what's been going on. The combination of her illness and a broken system that really has no idea how to treat mental illness has been a horrible combination. Recently she has experienced physical illness that gets overlooked by her clinical presentation as a "psychiatric patient." She is exhausted and so are we. Yet somehow we find the strength to carry on and get through with Divine Guidance and faith.

These past few weeks have been horrific for her and for us culminating in her admission on Sunday. I felt Spirit guide me to guide her to consider going to the ER. While someone on the outside looking in may think well just...there is no well just and no easy solutions when we are dealing with a complex medical and psychiatric illness especially when Ruth Anne cancels appointments or tells her providers everything is fine!

Faith and fog go hand in hand.

I'm blessed by how the Divine gives me signs and strength to make it through the miles on the road of life.

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.


Monday, August 5, 2019

It's kind of fun to do the impossible!



As different memories pop up in Facebook, I take pause and am in awe of what I have been able to create and accomplish since the diagnosis of Post-Polio Syndrome over 12 years ago. But I did not do this alone. I had a lot of love and support and trailblazers who showed me just what was possible.

Dr. Joe Dispenza often uses the example of Roger Bannister. He was the first person to break the 4-minute mile. Everyone thought it was impossible yet once he broke the record, others were able to follow. Why? Because their beliefs went from impossible to possibility.

In the 1980's I was blessed to meet a nurse, Beth Jordan, while hospitalized with a bone infection in my shoulder. She introduced me to the work of Bernie Siegel, MD. He's written many wonderful books all with the themes of love, medicine and miracles.

After the diagnosis, which I was told is a progressive neuromuscular disease, I remembered a story Bernie told about Evy McDonald.

If she could heal her body from ALS, I could heal my body from Post-Polio Syndrome. I began to love myself whole and imagine life in a body unencumbered and free from the shackles of a disease-ridden and traumatic past. My pen became my divining rod for healing as I wrote poetry that inspired mind, body and soul to heal.

"Be prepared to spend the rest of your life in a wheelchair"
was transformed into "And I want to run the 2009 Boston Marathon next year."



In December of 2014, with pushing myself to run 9 races in 9 months and no cross training, I sustained a very serious knee injury.

"The MRI shows you have shredded cartilage, degenerative changes from osteoarthritis, a fatty lipoma, bone spurs, degenerative changes from surgeries. Your gastroc muscle is atrophied but that comes as no surprise. That's been like that for years ever since you had polio and there's nothing you can do about it."

I felt like saying to the physiatrist, "Hold my beer."

Actually I thought it was impossible to grow a new muscle but I met an amazing chiropractor, Dr. Ryan J. Means, who turned me onto the movie "What the bleep do we know" and "You Are the Placebo" by Dr. Joe Dispenza. He told me we could most certainly grow a new gastroc muscle. With KT taping and exercises that stimulated the gastroc muscle using my right leg to provide the mirror neurons necessary for my left leg to fire up the gastroc muscle. Dr. David Hamilton in "The Tenth Anniversary of How Your Mind Can Heal Your Body" and Dr. Joe Dispenza talk about how mirror neurons aid in the recovery of stroke. When once it was believed that the damage of a stroke was "permanent", modern neuroscience has discovered the tremendous capacity of the brain and central nervous system to regenerate harnessing the power of the mind/body connection.



With a stronger gastroc muscle, a new strength training regimen and my fiery spirit, I set new goals for myself as a runner.

"We'd prefer you didn't run at all but if you are going to run please cap your distance."


And so I capped my distance at a half marathon!

I went on to run 3 Bermuda Half Marathons in as many years.



"We'd really like for you to come back to the Post-Polio Clinic for a reevaluation because, after all, it is only a matter of time before your disease begins to progress."

It's over 12 years and counting and in addition to having no progression of symptoms, I feel healthier and more vibrant at 65 years old than I have ever felt in my life.

In December of 2006 I was told I "had" a progressive neuromuscular disease. In May of 2007, I took a leap of faith and left my award winning career as a VA social worker to heal my life. "They" said so many things were not possible. The Divine and I had other plans.

It's been an incredible journey and you know what? It's kind of fun to do the impossible!

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.








Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Run For More Than the Finish Line



This time twelve years ago, I was at a crossroads in my life. I took a leap of faith on May 25, 2007 leaving behind my award winning career as a VA social worker to heal my life after the diagnosis of Post-Polio Syndrome, a progressive neuromuscular disease. I discovered the healing power of poetry to inspire mind, body and soul to heal and was discharged from outpatient therapy at Spaulding Rehab.

I had hope, faith and optimism that I could heal my life but had no road map to chart my course.

In October, the Universe led me to a personal trainer, Janine Hightower who helped me build on my outpatient rehab program and after 6 months, I declared that among my next health and fitness goals, I wanted to run the 2009 Boston Marathon!



Today I run for so much more than the finish line.

Running has become a way of life for me and my husband Tom.

Because of all that my body has endured: paralytic polio as a child followed by years of every kind of imaginable abuse and torture, 25 surgeries and wear and tear over 65 years, I appreciate every step that I am able to take. I celebrate every mile and experience every mile as a gift.

It's been an incredible journey harnessing the power of the mind/body connection to heal along with discipline, persistence, patience and a whole lot of faith that opened my heart to gratitude and miracles.

It's been hot and steamy here in Boston yet we continue to get out and run being mindful to hydrate and aware of dialing back our pace.

We run for our physical and emotional health, we run to unplug and be outdoors in nature, we run to unload the problems that can easily weigh us down, we run to celebrate healing and to uplift one of our Team Big Heart teammates who is in the ultramarathon of his life to recover from a spinal cord injury.

You can see the story from WBZ about his recent accident by following this link. If you are so moved, please donate to his GoFundMe page and please join me in prayers for his healing.

As we poured sweat and savored the blessing of being able to run on Tuesday morning, I beamed healing energy to Kevin from the Cleveland Circle Reservoir to Mass. General Hospital:



I remembered when I took my first tentative steps walking along Wollaston Beach shortly after coming out of my leg brace and all the milestones along the way on the road to the Boston Marathon.

I reflected on healing my left knee injury in December of 2014 through visualization and intensive rehab prescribed by a wonderful chiropractor.

As I sent powerful intentions for healing to Kevin I remembered how I needed to learn how to walk again after polio, and then again after coming out of the leg brace and how I had to learn to walk again after reconstructive leg surgery over 20 years ago.

The first day Janine and I went outside to teach my body how to run, my heart rate went up over 175 and that was for a 1 minute jog.

In Tuesday's run I ran with gratitude, I ran for sweat and sweetness to savor summertime here in Boston and I ran for our teammate.

Nowadays I run for more than the finish 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 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.

Monday, July 29, 2019

Hope is a Four Letter Word - And so is Love!



One of the things I kept hearing after receiving the diagnosis of Post-Polio Syndrome was "we don't want to give you false hope."

False hope? Is there really such a thing?

In the medical community there is such a thing as false hope and hope to many in Western Medicine is a four letter word.

I could have easily succumbed to the diagnosis and prognosis I was given in December of 2006 but somehow I was able to muster the courage to do what I'd done ever since I was 5 years old and open myself to Divine Guidance and a touch of grace.



I could barely walk up and down the stairs in my house. I had difficulty with breathing and swallowing. I experienced chronic pain and fatigue. I was told to prepare to spend the rest of my life in a wheelchair, to use energy conversation techniques whenever possible, that I should get a sleep apnea machine and might need a feeding tube in the future because the left side of my esophagus was very weak and causing me to aspirate food into my lungs. I was told there was no hope except to quit my award winning VA social work career and try to stabilize the symptoms where they were although it was likely the disease would progress even if I did quit my job. I was told that if I used it I would lose it.

I realized I was at a crossroads in my life. I did take the advice to leave my career because the stress was taking a toll on me. I experienced caregiver burnout in a most dramatic fashion.

I got still and asked for Divine Guidance and discovered hope through the power of my pen; what became my Divining Rod for healing. In that first poem, 'Running the Race', I accepted what was happening to me with grace and gratitude while looking to the future in my mind's eye. From "Coming Home: A Memoir of Healing, Hope and Possibility" (the first book in my Trilogy of Transformation):

And then I felt a stirring in my second chakra (only then I didn’t know it was my second chakra – I thought it might have been something I ate). I went over to my laptop in the corner of the living room and I wrote this poem:

Running the Race
Early summer 1959 my kindergarten year
Everyone around me filled with nervous fear
Despite the Salk vaccine hope polio would disappear
The polio virus crept right up and knocked me in the rear.
Dancing all around the gym feeling free just like a bird
I dropped to the ground just like a stone
and no one said a word.
The pain it was so searing-the diagnosis even worse
"It's polio" the doctor said...he was abrupt and terse.
Called one of the 'lucky ones' I had a 'mild case'
But with the other athletes I could never keep their pace.
Miss Holly physical therapist,
curly hair and a warm, broad smile
It tempered the pain of being apart - to walk I'd take awhile.

I always wore those 'special' shoes
the kids they poked and teased
With no support and much abuse
with childhood I wasn't pleased.
But put nose to the grindstone and learned all that I could
I couldn't kick a ball but my grades were always good.
Years went by and no more thought to polio did I give
I accepted the limp and everything else
and decided my life I would live.
But symptoms of weakness and muscle pain did grow
I kept a stoic face hoping no one else would know.

Life no longer was my own I struggled through each day
Suffered in silence, isolated from friends-
trying to keep depression at bay.
And with the grace of glorious God my world it opened wide
I discovered there was a Post Polio team
and they were on my side.

Using wheelchair to travel, set limits on what I could do,
Resulted in joy to realize I could live life anew.
Celebrated my body- creaks, groans and need for a brace
While in my mind I focused on winning a 10K race.
Sought out paths for healing and my spirit flew free
For the first time in life, I could truly be me.
The chains are gone and possibilities abound
I'm a tree with my roots planted firmly in ground.
I'm now off the sidelines, no need to sit and whine
So much gratitude fills my heart and love and beauty shine.
After all these years I can join the loving human race
I exceed all expectations and now I set the pace.

I sobbed to write those words. I had never spoken about polio or the abuse I endured. I became curious. Why am I writing about winning a 10K race?


It was as though a spigot was turned on in my soul as poems poured out of me overflowing with messages of healing, hope and possibility. The poems helped to heal my past, create beauty moments in the present and create a future very different from the ones the medical profession predicted for me. That first poem foreshadowed my 2009 Boston Marathon run.

After a serious knee injury in December of 2014, I briefly returned to the medical community for a diagnosis to find out what I needed to heal.

The MRI showed a knee that would require a total knee replacement in a few years. I was told to stop running which they knew I wouldn't do so they told me to cap my distance. As we went through the results of the MRI, the physiatrist said in a most off handed manner, "Well your gastroc muscle on your left leg is atrophied. That's no surprise. It's been that way for years I'm sure as a result of the polio. There is nothing you can do about that." And, even after all I healed through the mind/body connection and visualization along with working with a personal trainer, he urged me to return to the Post Polio Clinic for a re-evaluation because it was only a matter of time before the disease progressed! Dr. Joe Dispenza calls this the voodoo curse. Doctors words can be very powerful for the unsuspecting patient and often times what they predict comes true. There was a case of a person who was told he had cancer and was given 6 months to live. Sure enough at the end of 6 months he died however, on autopsy, it was discovered he did not have cancer!

I was led to Ryan J. Means, DC, an earth angel chiropractor who gave me hope along with chiropractic treatments, KT taping and a new strength training regimen that I still use and build on today! He infused every treatment and conversation we had with hope and encouragement for me to get back to the sport I loved and that is my therapy.

He asked the question, "Why set limits?" and I went on to run 3 Consecutive Bermuda Half Marathons.

He gave me exercises to grow a new gastroc muscle used in conjunction with taping the gastroc muscle to stimulate its regeneration!

We used the concept of mirror neurons to encourage the development of new neuromuscular pathways to my left gastroc muscle. When once I relied on the right leg to encourage my left leg to be able to do a calf lift, I can now do separate calf lifts and feel my left gastroc muscle getting stronger and stronger over time. I graduated to doing the calf lifts on a theraband stabilizer to make the exercise more challenging.

As I was healing my life, I reached out to the Post-Polio Support Groups to be a guest speaker and inspire others with what is possible. Group leaders politely turned down my offer saying that they didn't want to offer false hope to group members. When I was doing research for my memoir, I came across this incredible piece from the wonderful physiatrist who cared for me as I recovered from polio and is included in "The Adventures of Runnergirl 1953" the third book in my Trilogy of Transformation:
Caution and Hope On Polio 'Signs'
Published: March 3, 1985
I read with interest the article entitled ''A Group for Polio Survivors Who Have New Symptoms'' (Feb. 10).

Having supervised the rehabilitation of poliomyelitis patients at Grasslands Hospital during the epidemics of the 50's and 60's, probably including the ''then'' infants mentioned in the article, I would like to add a word of caution and even hope as an afterthought.
Firstly, there is no reason to suspect deterioration in the nerve cells in the spinal cord. After 30 years, one must accept some loss of endurance, increased fatigue and even some discomfort induced by other unrelated medical problems. This is true in the athlete with repeated injuries, in the obese person with back problems and even in the jogger with foot ailments.

Any individual with paralytic disability in an extremity will experience the normal process of ''wear and tear'' except that it may be more difficult to adjust to it. Just as one learned to compensate for the initial impairment so must one adjust to the later, more subtle changes rather than develop an emotional hang up of being a ''polio victim.'' ~EUGENE MOSKOWITZ, M.D. Mount Vernon


This is how the Westchester Post-Polio Group responded:
The Westchester Post-Polio Group is grateful to Dr. Eugene Moskowitz (Letters to the Editor, March 3) for providing the public with a concrete demonstration of the negative and patronizing attitude many of us encountered from physicians. If Dr. Moskowitz finds ''no reason to suspect deterioration in the nerve cells in the spinal cords,'' we suggest that he read ''Proceedings From the First Annual Symposium on the Late Effects of Poliomyelitis,'' in which highly respected members of his own profession advance excellent medical arguments and research reports in support of exactly that theory.



I understand that there are many who have a difficult time embracing my message of healing, hope and possibility. And that's okay ... I wish them well.

But I know from emails and messages I receive that there are many who are hungering for hope and have embraced my message to inspire their journeys.

Hope IS a four letter word and so is Love.

Love is a Four Letter Word from "Feel the Heal: An Anthology of Poems to Heal Your Life":

Love is a four letter word
I swear by its healing power
as it pulses and courses through the river of my veins
unstoppable
watering everything in its wake
the garden of my soul.

Love is a four letter word
I bear witness
bare my soul
a breath of fresh air when love
enters a room
love ignites
delights
purges the past
forges the present
a force to be reckoned with
reconciles
unveiling
revealing.

Truth is
I am love
only love
pure and innocent
from Love
Perfection.

Love is a four letter word
the bridge
heaven on earth
all the elements I need to heal
living life as only I can
grateful to be a love.


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. Proceeds from the sale of books for July are being donated to The Joseph Middlemiss Big Heart Foundation to support Tom's Falmouth Road Race. You can also donate directly by following this link.








Friday, July 26, 2019

No Excuses!



"It's been so hot!"
"I'm so tired!"
"I didn't sleep well last night!"
"It's been so stressful with Ruth Anne doing so poorly and there's nothing we can do except continue to pray."
"Maybe I can just skip one day."
"My body feels so heavy...I just want to sleep."

Since running 3 Consecutive Bermuda Half Marathons, I have focused on being consistent in exercising 5 days a week and taking Thursdays and Fridays as recovery days. I see my chiropractor on Thursdays.

We have switched up our days for when we do what to accommodate Tom's work schedule.

Tuesday was going to be our day to run BUT there were torrential downpours with rain forecast throughout the day. The forecast was much better and brighter for Wednesday.

Should we take an unscheduled rest day?

Tom was on call for work and was up for a half hour at 1:30am.

During our meditation, as I listened to the soundtrack of the pouring rain, I debated about what to do and then, in the quiet, it came to me.

After the alarm went off for our morning meditation, I said to Tom "Why don't we go to the pool today and go on our run tomorrow?"

"Brilliant!" he said. "I was about to suggest we not do a workout today but this will work out and it's okay if I am a few minutes late for work."

We got a parking space right in front of the BU FitRec Center and arrived right at 7 am when the Recreation Pool opens.

As soon as we walked into the pool, we both let out a sigh of relief.

We swam, strength trained in the water and stretched letting go of the tension that built up in our minds and bodies.

We savored our breakfast and by the time we pulled up to the door at Tom's office, each of us felt ready to greet the day. He was only a few minutes late and we were thrilled that we made the choice to get our workout in moving to nourish ourselves and manage the stress in our lives.

On Wednesday the alarm went off at 5:45 since Tom's usual Monday morning meeting was rescheduled to Wednesday! We looked at each other after our meditation and said, "Let's go!"

One of our Team Big Heart members, Kevin LaCoste, suffered a spinal cord injury over the weekend. Everyone on our Team was dedicating their workouts and runs to Kevin and his beautiful family.

There are two news stories about Kevin and his family:
Beloved Westford Principal Hurt in Freak Accident

Westford principal recovering after fall left him paralyzed

We dedicated our run to Kevin!

We were treated to a beautiful morning in Boston complete with angels and baby geese now grown:




Tom is training for the Falmouth Road Race and is raising money for The Joseph Middlemiss Big Heart Foundation. (You can donate by following this link.) I am working on improving my pace getting ready for The 6th Annual Joseph Middlemiss Superhero 5K in September.

Tom warms up with me en route to the Reservoir and then he runs at his pace as we go around in opposite directions. During my run I thought about Kevin and surrounded him and his family with healing energy. I reflected on my own journey and how every step and every mile is a gift. I reflected on how grace manifested in my life and how I was blessed to be able to harness the power of the mind/body connection and visualization to heal.

When I was 5 years old I contracted paralytic polio and was paralyzed from the neck down. I had an out of body experience and met my guardian angel. I had a choice as to whether or not to return to my body and I chose life. I was blessed to meet many earth angels along the way. It was a long and painful journey to learn how to walk again but I regained mobility.

Twelve years ago, my body experienced the late effects of paralytic polio and severe childhood trauma. I was told I should prepare to spend the rest of my life in a wheelchair possibly needing a feeding tube and a sleep apnea machine at night. I got still and asked for Divine Guidance and was blessed to feel the light and Love of the Divine through my pen which became my Divining rod for healing as I imagined myself, through poetry as running, happy and free, healthy and whole in my body. I ran the 2009 Boston Marathon!

I once again needed to heal my body harnessing the power of the mind/body connection, chiropractic care and intensive rehab after a serious knee injury in December of 2014. I went on to run 3 Bermuda Half Marathons after being told I shouldn't run anymore or at least cap my distance and prepare for a total knee replacement in a few years.

I cherish and am grateful for every step and every mile and all that I am able to do.

While I use meditation, chiropractic, visualization, journaling and my power of belief to heal, one of the lynch pins in my healing journey has been consistency.

When I trained for the 2009 Boston Marathon, I never missed a training run.

I had to make an adjustment in my training plan for my third Bermuda Half Marathon because of a muscle strain and having pushed myself farther than I had since the diagnosis of Post-Polio Syndrome.

Tom and I came close to skipping a workout but I am delighted to say that since being on this healing quest for the past 12 years, there have been no excuses!

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. Proceeds from the sale of books for July are being donated to The Joseph Middlemiss Big Heart Foundation to support Tom's Falmouth Road Race. You can also donate directly by following this link.







Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Synchronicity at the Starting Line - Part 2



I was almost a DNS (did not start) for the 2018 Bermuda Half Marathon. I had a muscle strain in my right hip that had been nagging me throughout training. I began taper time early and hoped that the rest would do me more good than more training.

I woke up in the wee hours of the morning of race day feeling nauseous with both arms bathed in sweat. I didn't know if I had experienced a trauma dream or if I was physically sick but I harnessed the power of my mind/body connection in a deep meditation and mercifully fell back to sleep. I knew that nobody in my village would have criticized me if I had been a DNS. They knew it was a rough training cycle; training for my 3rd half marathon in Bermuda in as many years. I had already demonstrated what is possible by healing a serious knee injury without surgery.

I went from using a leg brace and a cane and at times a wheelchair for mobility and had been told to prepare to spend the rest of my life in a wheelchair after the diagnosis of Post-Polio Syndrome, a progressive neuromuscular disease to cross the finish line of the 2009 Boston Marathon.

We always take time for meditation after the alarm goes off. During my meditation I wrestled with my fears about race day. The Race Director, Anthony Raynor, reassured me that there was absolutely no time pressure for me to finish. He said to me on several occasions, "As long as you finish before my last marathoner, you'll be fine!"

I was well trained and I knew the course. I had to shake off the memories of what happened to me during the 2017 Half Marathon when I cramped up and was almost a DNF ending up in the medical tent but I did finish the race!

We learned from the mistakes we made during 2017 and were not going to let that happen again.

Before I put my feet on the floor, I pumped myself up to have a most memorable race day reminding myself that this would, in all likelihood, be my last endurance race given the toll the training took on my body.

Room service was amazing! From "The Adventures of Runenrgirl 1953":
"Good morning. Good morning...Are we ready to run?"

The knock on the door came promptly at 5:30 and Narayan came in carrying a tray with everything we requested for our traditional pre-race breakfast. Tom had his piping hot coffee. We had whole wheat toast, chilled orange juice and hot water and bowls for oatmeal. We added in the bananas, nuts and granola we purchased at Miles Market.

While he organized our breakfast serving it in grand style, he said, “I am so excited for you all. I was once at base camp at Mt. Everest as support crew for a group climbing Everest. I love seeing people do epic things! Is there anything else you need?”

“No we are all set. And thank you so much!” I said.

“Of course. Have a great race day!”

I ate mindfully while letting the butterflies in my stomach just be. After breakfast, with tears in my eyes, I said a prayer for the day. I gave thanks for the blessings that brought us to that moment and asked the Divine to bless us on our 13.1 miles through Bermuda. It was intensely emotional to realize how far I’d come to be poised and ready to toe the starting line of Bermuda Half Marathon 2018 - my third in as many years.

We headed to the lobby where runners were excited to get the shuttle to the starting line. We drove through winding roads in the darkness anticipating daybreak.

When we arrived in Hamilton I saw Susan, an integral part of Bermuda Marathon Weekend along with Anthony’s cousin, Jo-Ell who we met in Boston on that fateful day when Anthony offered me an invitational entry. I told Susan I had serious pre-race jitters. She took my hand and told me that it's race day excitement. It happened to her before every race.

“Why don’t you use the bathrooms inside the Ferry Terminal? They’re a lot better than the porta potties and then go breathe, stretch and relax. It’s going to be a great day for you!”


After saying goodbye to Denise and Lanette, we headed to the back of the pack at the starting line.

“Hey are you Joe Middlemiss?” I asked a tall runner wearing a Team Big Heart shirt.



“No Joey passed away and…”

“Oh I’m so sorry of course. I’m not thinking clearly. I meant to ask if you were Scott but obviously you’re someone else.”

“Hi I’m Linda and this is my husband Brad. How do you know about Team Big Heart?”


My breath caught...Here we were in Bermuda standing next to runners representing The Joseph Middlemiss Big Heart Foundation from Massachusetts!

We shared with them how we learned about Team Big Heart and The Foundation at the 2016 Runners World Classic when we volunteered for the Celebrity Mile. Linda and Brad were running the Bermuda Triangle Half Challenge representing Team Big Heart. They asked if we would take a photo with them with Town Crier Ed Christopher:


We became Facebook friends and friends "in real life" and found ourselves swept into the beautiful circle of Love and Kindness that IS The Joseph Middlemiss Big Heart Foundation.



I know deep in my heart and soul that angel Joseph orchestrated that Divine meeting with Linda and Brad. What were the chances right?

All of my fears melted away. My original goal of running my 3rd Consecutive Bermuda Half Marathon, sending a powerful message of healing, hope and possibility was eclipsed by that Divine moment.

While I continue to bring my inspirational message of healing to many, I felt a calling to become a part of Team Big Heart.

After meeting Brad and Linda, Tom said that he would love to run for Team Big Heart one day. That one day is happening in just a few weeks at The Falmouth Road Race! We found out that we are staying at the same hotel as Linda and Brad for race weekend. I love representing Team Big Heart whenever we train or run a race. While we have given The Joseph Middlemiss Big Heart Foundation a lot of support, we have received so much more in return ... and it all began with synchronicity at the starting line.

From my heart to yours
In Health and Wellness,
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. Proceeds from the sale of books for July are being donated to The Joseph Middlemiss Big Heart Foundation to support Tom's Falmouth Road Race. You can also donate directly by following this link.