I woke up with my heart pounding. This was it. The first day in three years that I was about to take a risk and do something that I love and missed so dearly.
I changed into my under armor, pulled on my socks, and put my hair in a braid.
Why wasn’t my heart slowing down? I took my pulse…145 bpm. I rustled through my bag to find my pill box. I took my beta blocker to slow down my heart and put the symptom into my heart rate monitor.
“You okay?” my boyfriend asked…
“Yeah, I’m good. I’m ready” I replied. I wasn’t going to let a little tachycardia stop me. I planned for this. I rested for this.
I put on my jacket and my helmet and headed towards the car. I could not believe that I was actually going skiing! I used to ski every weekend since I was three years old before getting sick. I taught skiing to kids. I loved it. It has always been my favorite sport. However, I stopped skiing about three years ago after I was hospitalized; things just went downhill from there. I was using a walker to walk down the halls of a residential treatment center. But now…NOW I was going to try to ski!
I popped into my skis at the base of the hill and immediately felt a rush of adrenaline – this was it! Would I be able to ski like I used to? Would I even be able to make it down the hill? So many thoughts were running through my head, but I went up the lift and skied down almost like I never left. Sure, it was harder on my muscles. Yes I was out of breath at the bottom and felt that burn in my thighs. I got dizzy, but I did it. I carved my turns, felt the wind blow on to my face, and I hadn’t felt as free in three long years as I did just then.
I tell this story, because I want to encourage others. If you were to ask me two years ago, heck, even one year ago, if you thought I would ever be able to ski again, I do not think I could give you an answer, and if I had to, I would most likely say “I don’t know – probably not.” But here I am, able to make it down the hill 3-4 times in one day. No, I can’t ski the same way I used to, and who knows if I will ever be able to. But I can modify the sport to fit my needs now. I can ski when my body allows it, and that is all I can ask for.
If you suffer from a chronic illness that has taken something away from you, I want to tell you to not give up! Do not lose hope. Maybe you aren’t able to do what you love or used to do right now, but you do not know what one, two, three years down the road will bring. If you have hope and faith that things will work out, and you are persistent and determined you can get through anything. You can achieve anything. Nothing is so impossible that you can’t even think about trying. You owe it to yourself to at least try. I bet if you do that, you will end up surprising yourself, because you are capable of a lot more than you might think.
Skiing exhausted me. For days after I felt immense fatigue to the point where I would burst out in tears. But one lesson that I learned from that experience is that some things are worth feeling exhausted for later. Because that means that you are living. I am not going to let my illnesses completely stop me in my tracks. When I physically can, I am going to do fun activities, things that I love, because I do not want my illnesses to rule my life or call the shots. Of course I am going to try to always listen to my body and what it is telling me. But I do not want to let chronic illness dampen my spirit – and you shouldn’t either.
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