Recently, Running Woman had the pleasure of hearing Michelle's story, here's what she had to say, RW x
I’m a crier, I admit.
And that’s why I remember the tears of sheer joy when I returned home after completing my first run back.
It was my biggest achievement.
There had been a time when I wondered if I would know that feeling again, as much as I didn’t want to give up.
You see, I’m both stubborn and positive.
Doctors have said those qualities were the fuel for my recovery, and they’re probably right.
In 2016, I was taken ill and admitted to hospital.
During nine weeks there, I had three operations inside four days, lost a kidney, had blood transfusions, developed Stevens-Johnson syndrome and caught pneumonia!
I refer to it now as my ‘drama queen phase’.
Later, I was diagnosed with Lupus - a long-term condition that causes joint pain, skin rashes and tiredness - and began a journey to recover from the trauma.
I had lost weight, while my muscles had weakened to such an extent that I needed the aid of sticks just to walk.
Running had been a part of my life for a decade, and I was determined it would be again.
After all, it’s my thing.
But when I tried, I just couldn’t.
I had to stop, and confront that it might not be possible because my body had been through so much.
It was also adjusting to managing a condition for which there is no cure.
A profound sadness came with that.
I even sold my Garmin watch, trading it for a Fitbit for my dance workouts, which seemed a symbolic moment.
I still missed running though.
It’s my space, a place I go to when I need to think, or sometimes to escape thoughts.
I might be sad, or happy, angry or scared too – like when the coronavirus pandemic started earlier this year.
All of those sensations fade when I run, particularly on my favourite route next to the sea close to where I live.
They’re replaced by a buzz, one I can remember from the very first time I dared try.
I remember it vividly, venturing out one evening with my husband after dark so that none of the neighbours would see.
We can’t have been out much more than 20 minutes, and I jogged between lampposts that acted as markers along the way.
But that was enough to get me hooked – I was glowing!
I had been a swimmer previously, but had wanted to try something else when I felt it wasn’t helping me to lose weight any more.
Running represented a change, although not an activity I thought I’d ever stick to.
But I wanted it back.
So, in 2019, and after several conversations with my consultant who told me to listen to my body, I vowed to try again.
This time, as I described above, I managed it.
After a short while, I eventually completed a 10k, and have fallen in love with it all over again.
And to share that with the Running Woman community has meant the world.
To me, that 10k had seemed like a marathon, and the wave of support I received from the ladies was just so wonderful.
It’s a safe space, without judgement, where you can be vulnerable and share those successes that you’ve enjoyed.
They know how it feels because at least a part of their own journey is similar to yours.
Their running ability is irrelevant; they think like you do.
It’s a place I go to the moment I log into Facebook, just to discover what everybody has been up to.
Oh, and then there’s the bling.
Have you seen those medals?! They alone are a source of motivation to keep going.
I avoid entering races now because I’m unsure from one day to the next how Lupus will affect me.
However, I know what causes a flare up – and what my new limits are – which helps me manage.
Being able to complete a challenge virtually, on my own terms, is perfect.
I’ve undoubtedly changed, shaped by my experience and what I’ve endured, and I’m the person I am today as a result.
I’m happy with that, and appreciative I’m still very much a woman that runs…
Notes from Running Woman
To share your successes in a safe space, without judgement, visit our amazing Running Woman community.