Friday, December 10, 2010

"I can never imagine myself running!"

Guest post by Erin Goodrich

"That is awesome, but I can never imagine myself running!" Those were the first thoughts that filled my mind when I cam across Ronnie's blog RSR last October when I was sitting in my hospital bed, PICC line in my arm, wondering how I got to the point where admission was becoming a yearly affair and the nurses actually now remembered who I was.

Let me back up a little. I was diagnosed with CF about 3 months old from failure to thrive. Throughout my whole childhood and teenage years I never felt any "true" affects from CF. Yes, I had doctors visits every 3 months, and yes every time I left the doctors I always seemed to be on some oral antibiotic for the next two weeks, and yes I took all the pills and did all the treatments that went along with this disease. However, I never really "felt" it. Then there I was, 22 years old, about one year exactly from the time I had transitioned from the pediatric to the adult clinic was my doctor saying "I think it's time you have your first hospital stay seeing your PFT's have dropped" Tears, anger, frustration, fear all came rushing on me. I thought at that moment my life was ending, silly as it sounds, I was scared to death, and what the hell was this so called PICC line they were going to put in me!?!

Fast forward 3 years, and 3 hospital admissions later. CF was affecting my everyday life, now having that cough that almost never goes away, with a lot more mucus than I was EVER used to (thank you pseudomonas) and that constant worry that I had, yet never really expressed to anyone. On the outside I was a positive girl, who was living her life to the fullest. On the inside I was a mess.

I started googling CF groups on the Internet during my hospital stay and I was surprised and comforted to come across multitudes of blogs with people who had CF just like me! I started reading Ronnie's blog with amazement, I even emailed him to get some tips! Once I got home from that hospital stay I hopped right on that treadmill!!
Then, about 2 weeks later, I got preoccupied with many "other things" so I stopped for a little while; this cycle would continue for the next 8 months. Then May came, another admission (twice in one year, yikes!) During that time I went home on IV's and started walking on my treadmill the whole time. When the PICC came out and my PFT'S were up a little, I was ready to tackle this whole "exercising" thing head on! Also, during that time I started to share some of my fears and concerns to my boyfriend of 2 years and my closest friends, everyone was EXTREMELY supportive, which really helped.

Throughout the whole summer I walked with intervals of running, loosely following the couch to 5k program. I set a goal for myself that I would run the Troy Turkey Trot Thanksgiving morning. Once the fall came, I could still only run for 3 minutes at a time; gasping for air. I started to tell people I was thinking of running the Trot, but wasn't sure if I could do it. EVERYONE I told about this was extremely encouraging, all these people believed in me! My boyfriend and other friends signed up for the 5k and they were going to do it with me. Well there I was, out of EXCUSES, if others believed in me, I had to believe in myself. I had to do this, not only to prove to my friends and doctors that CF was not going to hold me back, but I owed it to myself to overcome the one thing that I thought I could never do, and that these past few years that were really hard for me were for a reason; a wake up call to put me on the proactive route with my CF rather than the reactive.

One month until the race I started to up my minutes of jogging, one night I ran 1.5 miles without stopping, when I got off the treadmill I was beaming with excitement (and dripping with salty sweat!) The next week I ran 2 miles without stopping, the week of the Turkey Trot I ran outside (in the cold weather) and ran 2.5 miles with only having to stop a couple of times. During this whole process my lungs were even feeling better and I could feel a difference!
Then there I was, at the start line Thanksgiving morning, 29 degrees and cloudy skies with my friends surrounding me, good luck text's flooded my phone that morning. All I wanted to do was to FINISH, and be at least a little under 45 minutes. I was so nervous I wasn't going to be able to do the whole 5k. I took a deep breathe and thought to myself, think about what you can do, not what you can't do, and I CAN DO THIS.

Before I knew it I was off with the other 4,000 runners, my friend Samantha ran side by side with me the whole time. When we first started out the cold temperatures were killing my breathing, and I found it hard to settle into a slow pace that I could stay at. I looked around and everyone else seemed to be running with such ease. Meanwhile, I was praying that I could just make it to the first mile. We finally passed the first mile, and at that point you could see the leaders already coming back around. Once we made it to the turn around I could see that I was actually ahead of quite a few people! Up a ahead was the second mile marker, I could feel my body tiring, but I kept on only taking a break to walk up the steep hill. When we roundedthe corner towards the finish line I heard Sam say "Erin look at the clock we're going to be under 40 minutes!!!" At that point a small burst of energy kicked in and I raced towards the finish line, with people on either side cheering for me and all of the other runners.

I cannot put into words the feeling inside I had when I crossed that line. I even fought back a few tears, it was almost like a dream, I couldn't believe I DID IT!! No one could take this small victory away from me, not even CF. This was a new chapter in my life, this was a chapter where I started believing in myself a little more, working harder on my health by incorporating exercising into my life, and being more proactive. That way, the next time I'm sitting in that hospital bed, PICC in my arm I will know I am doing everything possible to keep myself healthy. I also know I have a very long road ahead of me, and even though they'll be some bumps on that road if I keep running full speed ahead I'll make it to the smooth ground again.
I also wanted to send a special thank you out to Ronnie, if it wasn't for you, I NEVER would have done this, thank you for inspiring and believing in me. I can't wait to see how far I can get these PFT's up! :)

Erin's Bio: I'm 26 years old and was born and raised in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. I went to college in Worcester, Ma and then moved over to New York. I currently live in Clifton Park, Ny and work as a dispatch operations manager for a phone company based in the Capital District. My interests and hobbies consists of traveling, going out to eat, reading, shopping, decorating, EXERCISING and spending time with friends. "We're not here for a long time, we're here for a good time" :)

Note from Ronnie: Thank you SO MUCH Erin for taking the time to write this inspiring guest blog. I've known you for quite some time now and I can't tell you how proud I am of what you've accomplished. What a shining example of saying "enough is enough" and stopping at NOTHING to achieve your goals. I'll always be here cheering you on and I can't wait to see what you "beat down" next :)