20 August 2008

It’s August and I’m Still Alive

I think about that every year around this time. Chris Russell (who hosts the "home" version of this blog) chose a unique name for his web site, “Run, Run, Live.” Might have been a philosophy, might have been what was available at the web domain registrar. Whatever. For me it rings true. Fact is, had I not run, I most likely wouldn’t be alive. Don’t run, don’t live.

It’s August of ‘81, I’ve just graduated high school, the world is at my feet (running pun? perhaps.). I’ve been running since my freshman year in high school. I was a geek, a skinny and fairly short geek at that. No coordination, hopeless at “normal” sports. But I could run, and run I did. So now I’ve finally gained a little respect in the cruel world of high school, I’m in top shape, and I’m having the time of my life before the college grind arrives.

I get the flu. In the summer? I feel like crap for a couple days, then I’m better. It’s Thursday morning, I remember. I decide to skip work again and sleep it off one more day. I drop back into bed, tired but in pretty good shape. Two hours later I’ll be almost dead.

Within an hour mom rushes me to the doctor who I hear through my fog directing us to the hospital with the command, “Don’t stop at red lights!” As I’m wheeled into the hospital I manage to crack that I must be pretty sick because they didn’t ask for any paperwork. Spinal tap. Later I’m told they hurt like hell. Don’t care. Out.

Near midnight I emerge from the coma. I’ve survived a very nasty bout of bacterial spinal meningitis, which is still nasty today but at the time carried some absurd mortality rate. I’m honored to learn that my family and friends are on meds, my co-workers are on watch, and the county health department is on alert. Wow, what a commotion, all for little ‘ol me! More important (and, you say, get to the point, this IS a running blog, isn’t it?), the doctors tell me that had I not been in terrific shape from all that running, I would be dead. Run, run, live. Touché, Chris, you nailed it.

Of course, I didn’t really learn my lesson. Full recuperation took close to a year. By then, life got in the way. My logs from those days speak of frustrated attempts to get back to my running, but it never happened in a serious way. Twenty years passed. Forty pounds accumulated, even though I’m small, fit, and active. Still, it happens. Three years ago my legs weren’t feeling so good. I made that big mistake (or was it?) of Googling “tingling in legs”. Don’t Google any symptom greater than a pulled muscle, it’ll just scare the pants off you. And it did. It came back and said, “Congestive heart failure.” Well, I doubt that was for real, but Holy Crap! I’ve got to do something!

So in March of ’05 I picked up a pair of shoes from the discount rack at the Big Warehouse Store and began to revisit my youth. And that’s what I meant in my introduction (previous post) about being in my second running career.

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