• Arabelle Romeo

Bent, not broken

"Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don't resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally in whatever way they like." ~Lao Tzu

I finished 2019 just a few thousand feet shy of my 250,000' of elevation gain goal. Honestly, it was pretty much finished in November. I've been struggling with back issues for the last year and a half which has definitely had an impact on my training at times. Completely in denial that there was anything really wrong with me, I fumbled with trying to stretch, trying to strengthen, seeing a chiropractor, seeing someone for deep tissue work...none of it helped, so I finally went for X-rays last week and was completely unprepared for what was found. I was certain I would see bulging discs or a stress fracture somewhere, but instead I was staring at what looked like a snake. My hand immediately went to my back- I couldn't imagine that this curve was really in my spine. Of all the things I had feared could be wrong with me, scoliosis had never entered my mind. The doctor sat me down and explained what this meant and so many things began to make sense. Being twisted by a chiropractor, doing excessive back bending, lifting heavy weights, running hard and fast downhill...none of that was doing me any favors. After my initial wave of fear of what this meant had passed, I felt a huge sense of relief. This is manageable. Usain Bolt was born with scoliosis. Lots of people run and lead active lives with scoliosis. The doctor said I'm only limited by my tolerance to pain...but I'm finding that just in a few days of changing the things I do and running everyday, I'm feeling a little less pain each day. Rich had frequently commented that my back flares up after a period of inactivity and admittedly, the last month I've felt worse by the day the longer I went without running. I've been told by several people that the key to managing scoliosis is to stay active. This isn't an obstacle, it's just another opportunity to find solutions to living with the reality I've been given. I won't continue to lift heavy weights and I won't be back bending in yoga. But I'll continue to run...some days feel better than others physically, but mentally I feel at peace because I know I won't give up. The things that seem to get in our way give us so much opportunity for growth...I'm choosing not to see this as something that slows me down, but rather something that propels me and strengthens my will to push forward.

In 3 months and 18 days I'm taking my first steps on my run across the country. There's a lot of work to be done before then and all of it starts with one foot in front of the other...and a whole lot of gratitude that things aren't worse :) #bentnotbroken

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