Feeling disabled

Running, this is for me one of the hardest things. As an athlete, I often dread all the times that I have to run. I chose running because I wanted to change my whole perspective on it. It has been about six weeks since I have began running not because I have to, but because running is a way to empower me as a person. I have had my ups and downs with the sport of running from the last six weeks, but the event that hurt me the most is when I had an asthma attack and was forced to take myself to the hospital. I have recently been diagnosed with chronic asthma. As an athlete, I was completely devastated because I, as a human being, am not able to do tasks such as walking and running without some type of aid. My inhalers during the last few weeks have been my best friends.
When I found out that I had chronic asthma I automatically thought of myself as a disabled human being. I began to think to myself, if I am unable to control my own bod, how am I supposed push myself in a sport? When I went to the doctors, I was prescribed two inhalers, antibiotics, as well as oral medication that would allow me to gain control of my breathing and asthma attacks. This was an absolute relief for me. I was excited to do something that I had before taken for granted. For the first time in my life, I wanted to run. I wanted to prove to myself that I am a regular person and a strong athlete capable of persevering through such a physical setback.
Now, I find myself running at the gym, on muir field, the track, and the local streets in the neighborhood I live in. When I go running I make sure I have my knee brace. I need a knee brace when I run because I have sprained my knee multiple times as well as severely spraining the MCL tendon in my knee not allowing me to put weight on it time to time. I also wear running shoes that provide a large amount of arch support because of my flat feet. Ever since starting this project, I find myself telling myself ,“Don’t stop. You are doing this for no one. No one but yourself.” Through this experience, I’ve found the motivation and confidence necessary to overcome something I have always battled with. Before, I would never keep track about how fast I am running, but now I strive to get better every single time I run. I now tell myself that there is no excuse not to run unless I am sick or if my knee hurts.
The amount of running depends on where I am running and how my chest feels that day. When I run, I need to make sure that my chest is not tight and my airways are clear. Meaning , I make sure that I don’t feel any sort of tightness making my chest heavy, or wheezing that may hinder my breathing breath. I do this self “check in” with my body because I want to ensure that I will not get an asthma attack while I am running or even after I am done running. Due to the fact that I had this set back, I have just been running a mile or two. When I am on the track or field , I run a mile non stop for some time. If I am running inside the gym on the elliptical or treadmill, I run for 2 miles while I do an interval circuit so that my lungs and body can get stronger.
Knowing that I have such a strong case of asthma that does not allow me to breath, I feel all the more motivated to persevere. I push and strive for the best when I run. Although I am not a fast runner, when I run I am able to take control of my body now. I no longer feel like this prisoner gasping for air rather, I feel like a regular person who does not have to think about the simple function of breathing in their everyday life.

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One Response to Feeling disabled

  1. Sarah McCullough says:

    I appreciate the power with which you are writing about this process of acclimating to your body-with-asthma. It sounds as if running is taking on a powerful symbol and material form in this process. You also show good clarity in demonstrating how disability is always on a spectrum and relative to other aspects of our lives and practice. The attention you are giving your body in this practice is admirable and worth cultivating further. I think this is one of the best things we can do to attain long-term health–recognize our body’s capabilities and needs. I’m sad to hear that you had to go to the hospital, and hope this does not happen again! Please do take care of yourself. I’m confident that you can still be an athlete, and likely a healthier and more body-tuned one, with asthma. Keep it up!

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