Thursday, May 28, 2009

Run, Kalen, Run!

In my dreams, I am a runner. I jog through parks, along streams, over bridges and under low branches. There's a gentle cadence to my step and a sparkle in my eye. Sometimes I wake up and my shins feel taut, like they did before I hit 45.

This past week I have been running like a crazed woman, jogging through life at a fast clip to catch up with bills, with correspondence, with work, with blog posts, with family, with my emotions, with friends, with time. Now I wake up and my shins are just fine, but my head hurts.

I hate headaches. They are painful. They take all the fun out of whatever you are doing. For drinkers, the next day is payback time; for the overly focused, downtime can be a killer; for the guilty, they are silent reminders; for procrastinators, stress-induced headaches are like calendar reminder beeps on your cell phone: Headache? What did I forget? Where should I be? How late am I?

Pain can be a motivator or a wet blanket.

For those with fibromyalgia, pain is often a mixture of both, and it doesn't go away.

This past year, my youngest daughter Kalen was in Brazil on a Rotary Exchange. What a life changing experience! A foreign language to master, wild parties to attend, early morning instead of late night curfews, tropical heat, and the pain of fibromyalgia.

The diagnosis was irrefutable. It was echoed by 3 doctors individually. It was real. Kalen was thousands of miles away and facing a reality at the age of 17 that seemed impossible. She had to face it alone. She had to accept what seemed impossible. She had to understand it. She had to deal with it.

Who would have thought this amazing time in her life would also deliver such unexpected news?

This was gonna be the race of her life.

In Forrest Gump, we were taught that "Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get."

Kalen "got" fibromyalgia. But she also got beauty, brains, a stubbornness that will be her strength and a zest for life that I haven't seen in too many.

Exercise, diet changes, medication, sunshine, better rest, lots of water and more were necessary.

So she started running....again, and more, and still. Using the pain to motivate her, to pace her.

And she felt better - not good, but better.

Oh, she still has pain. She still has headaches. She even gets shin splints. But she's better.

Kalen's home now, wistfully leaving her second country and beloved friends in Brazil behind. She is happy and beautiful and yes, she has fibromyalgia and pain, but she is headed into the next phase of her life with a smile. She is focused. She is determined. She is Kalen.

Her homecoming was a celebration: "Oiiii, Kalen Marie! Beijos!" We are glad to have her home.

And now, in her dreams, if Kalen ever wonders what that soft noise is that almost wakes her, it's just me - jogging quietly along beside her with a gentle cadence, shin splints and a headache from doing too much, but with a proud and supporting smile.

Life is just a box of chocolates, and I got Kalen.

Lucky me!

Forrest Gump Original Theme Song

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