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Friday, May 3, 2013

Dancing with Determination

From the writing desk of Christine Mazurk


I've written about the Boston Marathon bombings and the heartache felt for all the victims and their families. I've written about Dancing with the Stars and picked my favorites: Kellie Pickler and Derek Hough for the win, with Zendaya Coleman and Val Chmerkovskiy in second. (We'll see if my prediction plays out in the coming weeks.)

Today, I'm going to put the two subjects together, and bring up a few questions I want you to ponder and respond to in the comment section.

Tuesday night, DWTS honored Adrianne Haslet-Davis, a dance instructor who lost a portion of her left leg in the bombings, and they're passionate about helping her through her recovery. Adrianne not only has to deal with the physical aspect of her recovery to be able to dance again, but the emotional toll as well. Just imagine. Put yourself in her place. She was enjoying the day with her husband when the blasts occurred, throwing both of them to the ground. Covered in blood and a bit in shock, she said her foot felt strange and looked down to find a bloody, mangled, left foot. I think I would have passed out, but she went into survival mode.

Her husband, who was covered in shrapnel, used his belt to create a tourniquet, and they crawled toward the Forum. She screamed, "Please someone, help me. I'm a dancer, please save my foot." But it wasn't until she woke from surgery that her mother informed her they couldn't save it, a portion of her left leg and her foot were gone. What would you feel? Anger? Despair? That your life as you knew it was over?

I can imagine a gazillion feelings shooting through her, but afterward, she squared her shoulders and said, "I will not allow someone to steal my life!" And vowed not only to dance again, but to train and run the Boston Marathon next year. This is one determined Gal, and I, for one, believe she will accomplish her vow. (I'm sending healing and positive vibes your way, Adrianne. You can do it!)

Adrianne, unlike Amy Palmiero-Winters and Tom White - both lifetime runners - had no choice in her situation. She was an innocent bystander, who lost her limb because two 'terrorists' thought ... well, I don't know what they thought.

Amy's left foot was crushed in a motorcycle crash when she was 21. She tried everything to keep her leg intact for running, enduring skin and artery grafts  with nearly 30 surgeries over 3 years. Her ankle began to fuse and her foot was barely functional. She OPTED for an amputation, and has since run countless marathons, ultra-marathons, triathlons, and the Ultraman, which is an Ultra Ironman (to put that in perspective, that entails a 6.2 mile swim, 261 mile bike, and a 52.3 mile run!). Her personal best in a marathon (3 hours, 4 minutes, 16 seconds) was set after the amputation, and she promptly set a goal of 2:47, the time needed to qualify for the Olympic Trials.

She quit her job as a welder and joined the staff at A Step Ahead Prosthetics, a company who specializes in limbs for active amputees. She was once quoted in Runner's World, "Yes, bad things can happen, but what counts is how you deal with it. The loss of my leg will never change, but feeling bad won't change anything either. I've been given a gift, and I feel it's important to get out there and show the world what can be done."

An inspiration? I say 'YES' - a million times over!!!

Tom White, a 47-year-old doctor, had a degenerative condition - the result of a motorcycle accident in his 20's - that made it more and more painful for him to run over the years. Running was an integral part of his life and always had been. Not being able to run was more than a disappointment, it was maddening.

In October of 2007, after meeting Sarah Reinertsen - the first female amputee to finish the Ironman Championship in Kona in 2005 - he DECIDED to have his bad leg amputated, so he could run with a prosthetic leg. In his mind, his choice wasn't about life or death, but about life or better life. For him, amputation wasn't a loss, but a life regained.

he had surgery in November. The morning after, he woke up feeling exuberate - was it the drugs or the need to run? Family and friends were there to support him all the way. And soon, he was receiving phone calls from old running buddies, who'd heard about his surgery. He told one caller that he dropped five pounds in surgery, was back to his college weight, and couldn't wait to kick the guy's butt soon. (Quote from Runner's World.) His outlook was positive.

For months afterward, he struggled with the rollercoaster ride of emotion, including frustration that he couldn't run yet. Physical therapy and learning the ins and outs of having an artificial limb made it challenging, but he endured and by late Spring was running short distances. In mid-June, he signed up and ran his first 10-K with his new leg, and felt his third running life was starting.

How far would you go to preserve a passion? Would you cut off a limb? Or would you willingly give up that passion and find a different path in your life? Gets you thinking, doesn't it? And if you didn't have a choice, like Adrianne, what would you do? Would you pick yourself up and with passion, figure out a way to continue with your dream? Or would you give up?

Take a few minutes, think it over, and please share your thoughts below. What would you do?

Until next time - Christine

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