Saturday, March 30, 2019
Crossing a finish line....
“Because crossing a finish line can be like experiencing all of life’s blessings in a single moment.” ~Anonymous
In December of 2006, I faced a grim and uncertain future. I was given the diagnosis of Post-Polio Syndrome, a progressive neuromuscular disease and told I should prepare to spend the rest of my life in a wheelchair. The years of dissociating from my body to cope with having contracted paralytic polio at age 5 and then enduring years of abuse at the hands of family members finally caught up with me. I didn't know what was happening to me at the time nor did I know how I would find my way out of the hell I was experiencing in mind, body and soul.
In February of 2007 I got still and asked for Divine Guidance rekindling the connection I experienced with Source from when I was 5 years old.
From "The Adventures of Runnergirl 1953":
As I lay paralyzed on the couch from the neck down, my mother glared at me while smoking a cigarette. I didn’t know why she couldn’t or wouldn’t care for me. I had to wait until my father or grandfather came home to get my basic needs met. I had a vision of a Being with a long flowing beard who extended a hand to me only there was no physical hand. This Being sent a well bucket for me to climb in, and, although I was paralyzed, I was able to step into the well bucket to be reeled up to meet this Being. I felt safe, at peace and happy. Somewhere inside of me I knew that I had to make a choice. In that moment I made a choice to return to my physical body. Movement returned to my right side. I wiggled around a little bit on the couch; enough movement to hold my story book. Everywhere I looked whether my eyes were open or closed and even in my story book, I saw this Being. I had my guardian angel to help me through.
What was I going to do? I was told I needed to quit my award winning almost 20 year career as a VA social worker if I had any hope of stabilizing the symptoms where they were. I was terrified, angry and then.....
It was a cold, dark February evening and I felt this urge to create but create what? My twins were in their early 20's and my career and possibly my life was coming to an end.
From Coming Home: A Memoir of Healing, Hope & Possibility:
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?
A portal to healing opened before me as poems poured out of me in which I imagined myself healthy, whole and free in mind, body and soul.
I was transforming the horror of my past and creating a future very different from the one the doctors predicted for me.
And then I discovered the sport of running!
I had never run a day in my life yet in February of 2008 I declared to my personal trainer that my next health and fitness goal was to run the 2009 Boston Marathon for Spaulding Rehab Hospital where I took the first steps on my healing journey.
It was a glorious moment when we came down Comm. Ave and took that right on Hereford and left on Boylston heading toward the finish line of the 113th Boston Marathon:
followed by the glory of crossing the finish line:
The crowning glory of April 20, 2019 was receiving my Boston Marathon medal from a volunteer:
I endured much as a child, an adolescent and as the symptoms of Post-Polio Syndrome began to claim my life. I turned my past into glory the moment I crossed the finish line of the 2009 Boston Marathon.
To your health and wellness,
From my heart to yours
Be sure to visit my website by following this link.
My books are available on Amazon.
“The Adventures of Runnergirl 1953” takes you on Mary McManus’ healing odyssey from a wheelchair to the finish line of the 2009 Boston Marathon and beyond. After the diagnosis of Post-Polio Syndrome in December 2006, Mary got still and asked for Divine Guidance tapping into the powerful connection she experienced to the Divine from an early age. She harnessed the power of her mind to heal her body, feverishly writing poetry in which she imagined herself healthy, whole and free from the shackles of her youth. Mary’s quest to heal her life led her to the sport of running. Her story is one that will leave you cheering for the underdog, discovering the meaning of different ability and experiencing the stunning view from the back of the pack of a race. You will have the privilege of bearing witness to how Mary overcame every challenge that life presented to her. The sport of running provides the backdrop for her journey of transformation from a survivor of childhood paralytic polio and severe trauma at the hands of family members to a woman who embodies faith, grace under fire, courage, determination, endurance and resilience. Running became a way of life for Mary that tested her mettle while forging friendships to last a lifetime. As you’ll discover in “The Adventures of Runnergirl 1953” nothing, not even a serious knee injury in December of 2014 could stop her on the roads or in her life.
Feel the Heal: An Anthology of Poems to Heal Your Life
Coming Home: A Memoir of Healing Hope and Possibility that chronicles the first 7 years of my healing journey:
Going the Distance: The Power of Endurance (With a Foreword by Jacqueline Hansen):
My healing journey using the power of visualization is featured in David R. Hamilton's book, "How Your Mind Can Heal Your Body-Anniversary Edition." It's available on Amazon.