I Am Not a Runner
It is not uncommon for households, especially households that have children, to experience health issues on a somewhat recurring basis. Let’s face it, if you’ve got kids in school, you are going to run face first into the revolving door of cold bugs, viruses and assorted maladies. Such was the case in our typical home consisting of Mom, Dad, two daughters and two regal felines. Partly out of sarcasm and mostly out of practicality, I established an almost impossible rule for our home: only one health care crisis at a time! The rule was mostly ignored. Chicken pox, colds, flu bugs… all showed up on their schedule and couldn’t care less how many were afflicted.
And then I was diagnosed with CLL. With more sarcasm I tried to make our one health care crisis rule stick because we just did not have time to focus on anything else but CLL. (It didn’t work.) Watch and wait morphed into treatment and “things got real.” What I did not pay attention to is that my bride was holding everything together for the entire household. My wife, Penny, was taking care of our daughters: school, homework, activities, etc. She was taking care of the actual house and the pets and the lawn. She was working full time and she was taking care of me. What she was not doing was taking care of herself. All that work meant that she just did not have time for preparing healthy food, exercising or getting proper rest. And her health began to suffer. I really did not pay attention because I was so focused on my CLL.
I went through treatment and it was pronounced a success. Complete remission, minimal residual disease status. I was told that if a doctor did not know I had CLL, he would not be able to see it in a blood test. My counts were great, my fatigue had abated, my weight came back. My crisis was over. And I looked at my wife one morning and realized what had happened to her. She had put on a lot of weight and while calling her weight gain a health crisis might be an exaggeration, it was a problem. So I invoked our household rule and we agreed to do something about it. Penny enrolled in a hospital supervised weight reduction/behavior modification program and she stuck with it. Weeks turned into months and her (our) entire lifestyle changed. The pounds came off. A LOT of pounds came off. Penny started exercising in earnest along the way and she began to change. She had dropped over 35% of her body mass on this program and she became determined to not only keep it off, but become fit and vibrant. She did that in spades.
Power walking became jogging. Jogging became running. And then being a runner created the challenge of racing. 5K’s became 10k’s. 10K’s became 10 miles. 10 mile became half marathons. Half marathons became… Suffice to say that she has a closet full of neon colored spandex and running shoes. She has developed a passion. I am so very proud of her. Now, my oldest daughter Ashleigh has joined the running craze with her. They’ve asked me to run with them and I have politely declined. I will walk. I’ll even walk briskly! I will get up at 4:00am and cheer on my beautiful runners. But I am not a runner. And that’s okay. My support group is taking care of themselves now and that is a valuable lesson learned. Just one health care crisis at a time.