Saturday, October 20, 2012

I = MS Challenge Walker

You're lookin' at a woman who has participated in the 2012 MS Challenge Walk!!!


Okay, now you've seen her.

There she is (goodness gracious, let me stop speaking in the 3rd person) all bundled up in 4 layers of top clothing (it was 27 degrees at the start), a baseball hat, and 'credentials' that were given to me under the guise of 'this serves as your meal ticket'. My name and address were on it, as well as an emergency contact. I was also required to have photo ID and my health insurance card on my person. Meal ticket credentials? No. Information that helps someone to notify my family that I'm in a trauma center - and who will be covering the bill for my care? More like it.

Oh, and those white wires aren't attached to any sort of cardiac monitor or anything...those were from my iHat :-)

The scenery was stunning. While I was the only 'individual' walker, meaning I didn't have a team, I knew full well Who was walking with me the entire time.

There was a point at which I was having a tough time of things. Basically, my foot no longer wished to move in an upward fashion. I kept scuffing my toes as I meandered along, walking more like Mr. Heavyfoot with each step. A kind fellow walker had suggested I use a stick. A stick? I've never used any sort of mobility aid before, but my life-long mantra has always been...

I'll try anything...twice!

(historically, that mantra has gotten me into a loooooooooot of trouble...)

I found new freedom in my walkin' stick! Until I came to the point of the path where the 'shoulder' was...not.  Because 'shoulder' provides ample space in which to pull a car over. 'Shoulder' gives you a comfortable place to walk. 'Shoulder' contains enough surface area in which to fall and not be smooshed by oncoming traffic. No no, friends. I had arrived at...'wrist':

'Wrist' meant that my walking stick was in the lane of 50mph traffic. And, if I switched hands so that stick was safe, my right foot wasn't. Choices.....

It wasn't that several of the wonderful volunteers didn't offer to give me a ride, because they did. But I needed to do this, because I had put my mind to it. I'm stubborn like that.

(historically, that mantra has ALSO gotten me into a looooooooooot of trouble...)

There was a point at which my body gave up. I became ill. I was afraid I may not be able to continue...but greater is He that is in me (insert smiley face emoticon with a tear). I made it to a rest stop, where the volunteers helped me to put my feet up, fed me protein bars, and kept a steady flow of gatorade coming my way. They talked with me about everything from the economy to sports to what ms looks like in my life. Eventually (like an hour or so later), my legs came back and I was able to continue on!  May God bless them for their warm hospitality...

It's those things which I'll remember most - the hospitable moments. The conversations with the volunteers in which we'd end up talking about God. That time I was asking God for help, because I knew I couldn't make it to the next rest stop without losing bladder control...and I couldn't feel my feet, because they were frozen. A woman came out of a restaurant and said, "honey! Do you need to use the bathroom or warm up? I have coffee on!"

...not kidding.

In fact, I could really summarize this entire experience as one big retreat with God. All those training walks? All those conversations with the Lord - both silent and aloud? All that physical pain and illness to push through? Drew me close and kept me near Him. 

It may have appeared to others as if I was walking as the only 'individual' participant, but I was there with a team. They were in my phone...and He was right next to me. There were times it was overwhelming. Times I felt like I really couldn't go on, but those text messages would come (love you, Debbie!) at just the right times, giving me the encouragement and scripture verses I needed to keep moving. 

And then I saw this:

But it still didn't mean I had it in the bag. 'Cause I couldn't feel this:

...which is why I took a picture of it for myself ;-)

It was the longest mile of my entire life. Seriously. And when I couldn't make sense of the fact that my legs were STILL moving, because I couldn't feel anything but numbness and pain (ms'ers understand that you can feel both at the same time...ha!), I saw the finish line up ahead:

...and then a particular song came on iHat, in perfect timing.  'Overcome' by Jeremy Camp.  And I cried. A lot. Let me rephrase that.


Thank You, Lord, for walking with me. Thank you, Debbie, for 'walking' with me through every mile via cell phone. Thank you, family, friends, and church family for making this dream a possibility, and for your encouraging messages.

Most of all - many thanks to my sweetest, dearest husband, for picking me up from the event. No matter what circumstances have stood before us, between us, or ahead of us...he has supported me. I often joke that he got the raw end of that 'in sickness and in health' vow, but he insists he really doesn't feel that way. In fact, he hugged me and said - through equally sobby tears - "I'm so proud of you!"

Who's the most blessed woman ever?


Can't wait for 2013!!!