If you would have told me that I would be running 5 years ago, I probably would have laughed at you. My running journey happened by accident, but so happy I stumbled onto it.
On 29 October 2013 (ironically World Stroke Day) at the age of 42, I had a Haemorrhagic Stroke/Brain Aneurysm while I was at work. My husband was in Melbourne for a work trip and received a phone call saying that I had collapsed and been taken to hospital. Unknown to him of what had actually happened, he arrived several hours later to be told that the prognosis was not good and survival was extremely slim. Due to the size of the haemorrhage the doctors weren’t expecting a good outcome even if I pulled through.
Hour by hour, day by day I exceeded all expectations. After two brain surgeries and recovery I was released from hospital 3 weeks later and admitted into a rehab hospital. My stay was meant to be 3-6 months but after 3 days, I surprised everyone again with the recovery and was asked if I would like to be an outpatient for my rehab. So, on the 1st December, our wedding anniversary, I was able to go home to recover. My short-term memory was getting better and I was attending rehab and walking daily to keep moving.
During this time of recovery, I was having a hard time dealing with my emotions and certain situations and would become extremely angry and blow up. I got help and was told to find an outlet. So, I tried yoga. Nope. I tried meditation. That just irritated me. Then crafty stuff. I just couldn’t get into it.
I had friends visiting and they were raving about parkrun. I was curious about it but extremely self-conscious and scared to turn up. I bit the bullet and went along and really enjoyed it. I was hooked! I found that all the things that would upset me would just go away and it wasn’t an issue. I was becoming a happier person. I also loved that everyone was welcoming and inclusive. This is where I first saw RMA shirts everywhere and thought, what’s all this about? I looked it up on Facebook and I was amazed by what women were achieving, and I loved reading everyone’s posts about their journeys and struggles. I started with the 5km parkruns and then I signed up for 10km, 14km and half marathon events and kept setting goals.
Along the way I met so many wonderful Rummas and locally got to know Cathy, Jenelle and Faye. We would catch up for Sunday runs and bounce off each other about upcoming events and having a great time.
Last year, there was a conversation about running a marathon in Canberra with Cathy. I said “you know what, let’s give It a crack, what’s the worst that can happen? not finish? ”…well, it happened. We ran, and we conquered. We became marathoners. It was such a special and proud moment to be able to say that we finished it. In a couple of weeks we will be going to Hawaii to run the Honolulu marathon and I really can’t wait.
Running doesn’t come naturally to me. I really have to work hard at it. I’m not fast, I never will be and I’m happy to be a “back of the pack” runner. During my runs I reflect on how far I have come. I look down at the tattoo on my arm that has the script, Strength, and realise that there are so many stroke survivors that struggle with day to day tasks. I’m blessed that I was given a second chance and I just push on.
My life has done a full 360 and I’m all the better for it. I don’t feel bad that it happened to me, it’s made me stronger and a more positive person. I don’t treat myself as a victim, but a survivor.
In a couple of weeks I will be celebrating my 5th re-birthday. These birthdays are truly sweeter, and I cherish these milestones. I am looking forward to many more years of running and enjoying life.