January is always a fun month for me. My son’s birthday is a day before mine and it’s the time of year that I run in the Carlsbad Marathon with several of my close friends and family. This year is particularly special for me because my wife who is a type 1 diabetic will be making a comeback after many years of battling a thyroid disorder. It also is a time for me to think about another birthday and a year that has gone by way to fast. I am not too excited about turning thirty-seven, but, at the same time, I am extremely thankful for my health, a supportive awesome wife, amazing kids, and the fact that my disability has caused me to see life in a new and exciting way.
I am not a marathoner or pretend to be, but I enjoy taking my body to its limits. As I think about the Carlsbad Marathon and my birthday coming up I realize that my body is slowly starting to feel the effects of years of racing and training with corrected clubfoot.
I often wonder how much more my feet can take. I am slowly starting to feel the effects of Plantar Fasciitis setting in among other things. My feet sometimes are very painful in ways that are new to me but I try to ignore it. I figure that I will race until they do not work anymore and when that happens I have no problem racing in a wheel chair (believe me I will do it).
Unfortuately these new aches and pains are becoming a constant reality and reminder that I am still have some mechanical failures that I was born with. As a result of my clubfoot I have to reconsider how I approach each race and training session as the years go on. These changes are not going to comply with my type-A personality but it seems to be a reality that is leering its head around the corner. I have always pushed through the pain though. Even as a young child I remember playing soccer, football, and baseball in so much pain; I ignored it and played on. It’s who I am. It has always been in me to never give in to clubfoot pain.
As my birthday approaches next week, I find that getting older is not always easy both physically and mentally but it is what it is. As I read other clubfoot blogs and meet fellow clubfooters I have discovered that we all share a common anxiety. We wonder how much damage we are doing. We wonder if we will always have to be in extreme pain on a daily basis. We wonder if there is hope or some new surgery that can fix us or if we will be in a wheel chair someday. The doctors do not do much to help either. They do not give us any hope or encouragement rather we are left with each other. As a matter of fact the last orthopedic surgeon I spoke with called me an idiot for being an endurance athlete.
With that being said I often rely on fellow clubfooters to motivate me to press on as I get older. It’s the clubfoot community where we share our tricks and help each other find ways to ease the pain living with corrected clubfoot. We offer each other support and advice. This is what keeps me moving not the doctors. We, as a small community of people suffering from an unrecognized disability, are offering the best support and advice to each other on a daily basis. This community has given me the best advice I have ever received.
Even if I have to run/walk during the half marathon , Ironman, and my hectic triathlon season this year, I will always do it with pride and thankfulness knowing that I belong to a community of people dealing with the same struggles and pain as I do.