For those of you following the story of my friend and IronMan triathlete superwoman Monica, I have the following pictures to share as well as a link to a news report which aired last night about her. Monica's severed spine was operated on, and she is struggling through rehab with the grit and determination that got her through the IronMan in Florida last year. She was struck by a truck on her bike while training for the IronMan to be held in a few weeks in Arizona.
Monica's chances for a full recovery are very slim, but she hasn't given up hope. This weekend over 600 people rode in a fundraising bike ride for her. They named it the CAN YOU SEE ME NOW ride for Monica, to raise money for her and awareness for bikers on the road. A lot of triathletes are wearing special vests/jerseys in the IronMan in AZ to honor her. Tri-sition has started an online fundraiser that has hit 35,000 dollars so far. What a lot of people don't know is that Monica lost her job and insurance just before the accident. In fact, she had an interview just before the accident that she felt very good about. Despite it all, she remains positive and focused on healing and being able to walk. Her cousin posted on facebook Saturday: "Emotional day today. I'm in San Antonio with Monica today. Just sat in on her PT session. She's feeling a pain level of a 10 (1-10) and she pushed herself through it to tears. I had to hold my tears back. An Ironman no doubt!! I wanted to share her quote today "This is just a temporary setback. I'm going to do another Ironman. I have to crawl before I can run".
Here is a picture from this weekend's ride, a fundraising shirt Tri-sition is selling, and the vest for the IronMan:
Here's a sign Clear Channel donated to the cause:
Here is Monica sitting up in a wheelchair this weekend. You can still see the bruise on her forehead from her helmet:
Monica, flashing her muscles. She's pale, but determined.
Here she is today, on her first trip outside:
Here is the link to the story and the video our local CBS affiliate aired last night:
Please continue sending your prayers and good thoughts her way. She is a true champion. The She Beast is humbled before this mighty warrior woman.
Now, on to my disappointment which is minuscule compared to what Monica is going through. I talked to the doctor who has been doing the steroid injections and lumbar medial branch blocks in my back. I'm going to have a procedure called a radiofrequency neurotomy in a few weeks. Basically they burn the nerves and create lesions which causes the nerves that are causing me intense nerve pain to die over the course of a week or so. Ideally, I will get relief for 9 months to perhaps longer than a year and a half until the nerves regenerate. I already knew I wouldn't get total relief because of the rheumatoid and osteoarthritis, along with the joint damage and bulging discs in my lower lumbar area, but the procedure would help get rid of those sharp, shooting pains that run from my back into my hips and legs. I've been looking forward not to the procedure, but to the relief.
The doctor gave me news that floored me and left me a puddle on said floor. My last MRI showed that I also have bulging disks mid-back which are pressing up against the spinal cord. This doctor has been working closely with me for a couple months to help me with the pain that has been intensified as I train to participate in the Dirty Girl Mud Run 5K obstacle course on December 1st, as well as walk the Half Sparkathon 13.1 miles on January 12th. The 13.1 is my baby, we've trained all year for it and I'm very proud that I can walk more than 8 miles now and WILL walk those 13.1 miles. I couldn't get past 2-3 miles in the Spring because of the pain, but thanks to his intervention and help I'm doing so much better there; I'm not without pain, but I can go further for longer without succumbing to the intensity of the pain. What he told me yesterday was that because of the proximity of the bulging discs to my spinal cord, any slip or fall onto my back could potentially paralyze me from the waist down. Even if I skipped some obstacles and didn't climb or run on the course, mud is very slippery and the fall risk is too great to chance it. I'm out of the Dirty Girl. Surgery is almost inevitable in my not so distant future.
I cried until I made myself sick last night. I felt so broken and defeated. I've trained so hard, worked through the pain and taken all the meds I'm required to take to keep going. I felt embarrassed to be wallowing so deeply in light of what Monica is going through. I can't explain properly why it was so important to me to participate in the Dirty Girl, but in essence the idea of being able to do this made me feel young and strong again. It brought out the Warrior Woman spirit in me. It made me feel like the She Beast, the part of my soul that doesn't give up or give in. I needed to do this in order to prove to myself there was nothing too big for me to tackle...and now it is gone. I still feel like a little girl who has been told Christmas has been cancelled. It's small and petty of me, I know...but I feel cheated.
I keep telling myself I've come so far and accomplished so much. My friends and family all tell me there will be other mountains to climb that will make me feel just as accomplished. I love the support I've been given. I feel so grateful that so many have reached out and reminded me that I AM the She Beast and I have inspired others...but I have to lick my wounds for awhile. In my heart I keep feeling that this was my last chance. The arthritis isn't getting better. The lupus isn't going away. My lungs aren't going to miraculously heal (most likely, anyway...but I do believe in miracles). I'm stronger than I was, yes...but I'm aging and most of the diseases and disorders I have are progressive. Maybe it isn't a case of now or never, but right NOW it feels like it is.
She Beast isn't giving up. I'm not giving in - not to this self-pity, not to the disappointment. I'm allowing myself some time to grieve over this, yes. I deserve time to grieve. It hurts very deeply. But...gimme a few days and I'll be okay with it. I just need to get past it. But I will say this here and now: I don't care if I have to crawl through my own blood and sweat, I WILL be doing the Half Sparkathon on January 12th. No one, Nothing, is taking that from me. It WILL happen. I may be down, but I am not out. As always, I love you all.