Since Shenton park rehabilitation center was closing down, I had one last round of consultations with all the doctors to make sure we tie down all loose ends. Had a chat with my botox consultant not too long ago and the conversations was really a “weird” one.
Doc: So how have you been? Is the botox working for you?
Me: Well. Generally they are.. Im able to open my hand now and it doesn’t hurt as much as before
due to the spasm.
Doc: That’s great news! And so I heard you have completed a marathon recently. Its amazing!
Me: ermm.. yeah. Its just another long run I guess. It wasn’t fast. I had to stop along the way many times too.
Doc: Hey look mate. What do you expect? U really expect to get out of the accident and to be back to where you were before?
Me: yeah… that’s what I am aiming for…
Doc: no seriously. For you to get up and walk, it’s extreme hard work and its almost impossible. For you to run now and to be able to finish a marathon now, I think you should learn to be content. DONT BE GREEDY.
This is seriously weird. Throughout my whole life, I have been taught to aim for the stars, never to be content and to work my ass off. Now, I am told to be happy with whatever I have. Am I wrong to try to be back at where I was? Should I give up on that? Should I just take the easy way out and be happy with what I have? I am being greedy? These questions bombarded my head for a few days.
Following that, I had a chat with my doctor friend and he took told me this:
Bro, you know, you should really be content. I mean, even if you dont run as fast as before, you really should be happy. Let me remind you, you were like a couple of mm away for dying. And I literally meant dying. Die. Dead. Death. So to live is a blessing.
So I came to this conclusion. I will give up.
Give up chasing who I was.
But focus on better myself every single day.
Simply put, I was always unhappy with my run times because I was looking back at that 75s 400m. I was chasing that me when I did the sub 3 hour marathon. I was constantly frustrated with playing the guitar, as I could hardly open my left hand wide enough just to squeeze the fret board through, not mentioning it was impossible to get my fingers to make a chord. I was chasing me, when I was at my peak. I have decide to give up on that.
I have decided to be contented with what I have now. So, I start to acknowledge where I am at now. If it’s a 7 min km, it is 7 min. I will use that as a bench mark and improve from there. Whether I will ever reach sub 4 mins, however, remains to be determined. If I don’t try, I wont know. So, its time to get the work down and only time will tell.
Most interestingly, I took some time and changed my guitar (standard right handed) to a left handed guitar. I had to learn how to wrap my right hand around the fret board to form a C chord, then a G chord, then a Em, Am, F.. Just like the old days when I first hand my hands on a guitar. Teaching my left hand to do some simple finger strumming and only last week, I held a pick for the first time with my left hand. It is a really weird feeling because my natural playing instincts are still there and everything is inverted now. Kinda reminded me of the time when I broke my right hand and had to learn to write with my left. All the throbbing pain in the head and the amount of focus just to do something “simple”. But I have taken my first step out. To stop living in my past.
Only after I had done all these, had I realised how badly I was haunted by my past. Although I seemed to be doing well, challenging myself and defy medical diagnosis, I hadn’t been happy for the longest time ever. Every single day was a constant need to prove to myself that I will be back to where I was. And when I plateau, I had to battle and slay the inner demons just for them to come back and haunt me a while later. It was a vicious cycle.
One of my happiest days post accident was the day I discovered I could “run”. I remembered the smile on my face, the way I hugged my physio, how it made me felt like I was a world champion.
One of the promise I made to myself was to continue running for the rest of my life, to enjoy it and not take this ability for granted.
Running is not about hating your opponent or trying to beat someone else or proving to your sponsors.
I have gotten all these wrong in the past.
No one puts a gun to my head and tells me to do a sub 3 hour marathon. (ermmm well… they sorta did with their words but… *ahem*) I chose to do it. And subconsciously, it is because I love running.
I haven’t given up hope of doing another sub 3 hour marathon.
But now, I really need to focus on improving from my 7 min/km rather than bridging the gap to a 4min/km. Ironically, my coach has been telling me this for the longest time ever and I just didn’t seem to understand it. Now I do. Now I really do. Thanks for the wise words Grant.
Just this week, I changed physio and we had to go through this whole assessment and introduction.
Physio: So Zac. Do you have a support group?
Me: Yeah. Besides my family and girlfriend, I have my team.
Physio: Sorry. What team is this?
Me: My UWATRI team. I have a great coach, a bunch of excellent athletes to train with and they always keep me positive. Not forgetting to always drop me off even at warm up runs =)
Couldnt help but smile at the thought of the team.
Physio: Looks like you are well taken care of.
Me: you betcha.
After every single running session, my girlfriend would mention “someone seems happy today”. Damn right I am happy. So glad I have this team to be with. So glad I still run with the elite squad even thought I don’t have the ability to keep up at all. But seeing these people run each week, just makes me so happy. Never knew peer support was so damn important in recovery.
I know I often set big goals for myself. And I will continue to.
Very often what is deemed “impossible” just means no one has done it YET.
So, it just takes one person, the first person, to achieve it and it would be deemed “possible”.
|The white dot is the permanent damage in my spinal chord. This is gonna be with me for the rest of my life. Not gonna let this white dot/”hole” stop me.|