Your mother is an addict. There, I said it. I’m pretty sure everyone has been thinking this, but no one wants to say it aloud. Not to me, at least. But all the naysayers probably make some good points. And, I’ll admit, there is even an off-chance that they aren’t naysayers at all. Maybe they are just rightfully concerned loved ones. Now, just because I’m an addict, I’m not entirely sure I should give up my vice. That’s why I am still indulging, still running every day. But, that’s maybe the most telling sign of an addict: the inability to know when to stop.
Running is an activity that is often viewed as addictive, but rarely viewed as dangerous. Sure, an 85 year-old woman suffering from heart disease should probably avoid pounding the pavement, but I am just 29. 29. 29. 29. The number often repeats in my head. But, your mother is not an ordinary 29 year-old. It’s just that running makes her feel like she is. For each new mile I conquer, for every minute I shave off my pace, I feel like I’ve retaken a piece of myself. I feel like I’m 29. I feel normal. I feel….well, I just feel.
But herein lies the problem: running makes me sick. The further I run, the sicker I get. Two weeks ago, I was hospitalized after a long run. My body couldn’t keep hydrated and my intestines shut down, quite literally. I had run my intestines into an obstruction. But that didn’t stop me. Of course I had to show my body who is boss. So, a few days after my hospital stint, I was on the road again. And I was running faster than ever.
The more I am asked to stop running, the harder I research. The more I reach for a justification. I found a niche group on the internet of runners who, like me, have had their large intestines and rectums removed. I also found ample evidence that up to 20% of marathon runners have occult blood in their stool after completing this epic distance. I told myself that occult blood can’t really be less problematic than seeing the evidence of severe hemorrhaging of my digestive tract after each run: it is nothing short of a bloodbath. My heart rate spikes to almost untenable extremes throughout each run. Though my breathing is normal and my muscles work like champs, my heart has trouble keeping up. Adequate hydration to fuel my heart would be an easier task on Mars, if only I had my colon back.
But, Eva, I am not just running for myself. I am running for all the other men, women and children out there who have their intestines removed bit by bit. I am running to show them that it can be done. That we can be strong. That we can be normal. I am running to prove this not just to myself, but to everyone: sick or healthy, old or young, insane or sane. I need to show that it can be done. I need to, Eva. I just need to.
But then there is you. I have you to think of. I run for you, Eva, because I am running for a cure to this devastating illness that I fear every day and night will take your pride. I fear it will take not just your health, but your honor. Your happiness. Your fight. But, I also need to be there for you. I need to make sure that you have a mama. That she can be as close to healthy as she can possibly get. Running might give my mind the impression of
health and normalcy. But you need the real thing.
To run or to quit? I can’t decide. I can’t decide because I’m an addict.
With Torment & Love,
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