How I Became a Runner

This story has quite a bit to it, and I hope to write a book about it someday. Though for my blog reader’s sake, you will receive a condensed version (:

For quite some time, I hated running. I think it’s hard to really enjoy the thought of running around in circles. Running is also quite demanding on the body, so none of it made sense to me as a child. I enjoyed playing sports like soccer, volleyball, tennis, and… mostly soccer. However, I have a very privileged life. I always have. I was an only child for a while until my younger sister came along when I was seven years old. Though her birth was as exciting to me as it was to my own parents! I was thrilled to to be able to tell my stories to my sister, for her to play with me when she got to be old enough, and to just be an older sister!

However, I had also just gained a sister who would soon undergo countless surgeries because of a very rare condition called multiple pterygium syndrome, or Escobar’s syndrome. First there was the speech surgery, then her first major back surgery which was the fusion. Her leg surgeries followed which involved straightening her legs for life. They are only able to bend very minimally, so she walks very differently and gets fatigued sooner. The doctors could not expand on her back before fifth grade. In fifth grade, she had her VEPTR surgery. And ever since, she gets the rods in her back expanded every six months. We are currently waiting to see if we can lessen the amount of expansions. The doctors will keep continue with the rod expansions until she stops growing. They might have to take her current ones out and replace. Otherwise, other patients have just left them in for life.

I have seen a lot. I have witnessed her undergo nearly all of these surgeries and have heard her screaming in pain. I have seen her in the ICU for days and hooked to a morphine pump. And all of this pain is to just allow my sister to walk, grow, and live as normal of a life as she can.

During one of my cross country races, I raced on IT band syndrome. It was incredibly painful, nearly unbearable. Around mile two, I was ready to just forget about the whole thing. My whole world was crashing, my left leg felt like ten knives were being shoved in repeatedly along the side. I looked up, and remembered. I saw the morphine pump; I saw my own sister’s legs with pins and rods sticking out, keeping her bones straight. I saw her in the ICU; I saw her walking. In those few seconds during my race, I pulled myself together. I snapped out of my own injury and braced myself for a good, hard finish. Ever since that race, I have never stopped running with my sister on my mind. She is with me during every run, her, and many others who struggle with disabilities.

I run for a thousand reasons. I run because God gave me legs. I run because I can. I run for those who can’t.

My sister is a horseback rider extraordinaire! Horseback riding is the one thing she can do as well as anyone else. She can beat out girls her own age and not be held back by the physical disability. The far bottom-right picture is my sister and her pony, Koda, at the Special Olympics this past October 2014. Yeah, her pony ;) Instead of a car, Katie got a pony, and she is very happy with him!
Katie is thirteen years old, is in eighth grade, and is a horseback rider extraordinaire! Horseback riding is the one thing she can do as well as anyone else. She can beat out girls her own age and not be held back by the physical disability. The far bottom-right picture is my sister and her pony, Koda, at the Special Olympics this past October 2014. Yeah, her pony 😉 Instead of a car, Katie got a pony, and she is very happy with him!
My sister's back before and after VEPTR surgery. The before is on the right, the rods on the left are from the surgery, keeping her back upright and straight. This keeps the spine from curving too much. You can see her lungs were being affected. As the spine continued to cave in, the lung capacity diminished.
My sister’s back before and after VEPTR surgery. The before is on the right, the rods on the left are from the surgery, keeping her back upright and straight. This keeps the spine from curving too much. You can see her lungs were being affected. As the spine continued to cave in, the lung capacity diminished.

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