What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore–
and then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over
like a syrupy sweet?
Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load
Or does it explode? Langston Hughes
After my life partner, Bernice B. Wagner, died in February 2011, I decided to create the blog Run For Your Life in her honor. The blog breaks down into three parts; 1) The Bernice and Garry Story; 2) Progress Reports; & 3) Notes on Grieving. All three parts served the dual purpose of honoring Bernice and finding solace through the grieving process.
Sharing our life together and processing my grief over the last ten months have brought me peace. These two blog components will continue at least until The Bernice and Garry Story is complete. Unfortunately, the Progress Reports on my preparation for the 2012 New York City Marathon have come to an untimely end. On 9/27/2012 I informed the Pat Tillman Foundation, my race-team sponsor, that I was not physically able to continue my training for the the NYC Marathon.
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
One door closes, another one opens:
The Silver Lining
The Good: 11/11/11
Ran Veteran’s Day 11 k and averaged ten minute miles. At that point in my training my long runs ranged between 10 to 14 miles. Right on target.
The Bad: 12/8/12
I schedule an appointment with my primary care doc, Dr. Thomas Bauch. Reason: even on a good run day, it takes me a mile or so to get into any sort of pace. My right hip feels locked, sending pain messages with every foot strike.
Scene: my primary care doc’s office
Dr. Bauch: (tapping on an x-ray of my right hip) There’s your problem, right there. Arthritis.
Dr. Bauch: (pointing to the hip socket) Right there. You see that thin white line between your thighbone and and your hip socket? That’s the cartilage that stabilizes the fit and allows your leg to rotate smoothly as it moves through the socket. Without that you’ve got bone rubbing on bone. Garry: That doesn’t sound good.
Dr. Bauch: No it’s not good. Once that cartilage is gone, you’ll be in lot of pain and your hip will pretty much lock up.
Garry: But there’s still some cartilage there, right?
Dr. Bauch: Yeah, but let me show you something. (toggles to ex ray of my left hip) Take a look at the cartilage line in this hip.
Garry: Wow, big difference! Two, maybe three times as much cartilage as the other.
Dr. Bauch: Right, and that shows you how much damage the arthritis has already caused. And the thing with arthritis, it doesn’t get better. It can only get worse.
Garry: You’re not telling me to stop running are you? Cause if you are, you’re wasting your breath.
Dr. Bauch: I’m not telling you to stop running. But I am telling you that I have had this conversation many times over and I know what your next question is.
Garry: That’s more than I know. So what’s my next question?
Dr. Bauch: If it’s gonna get worse, how long can I continue doing what I do?
Garry: So pretend I asked. What’s your answer?
Dr. Bauch: As long as you can stand it, my friend. As long as you can stand it.
1/26/12 Running log indicates arthritis keeping me awake at night
9/08/12 Despite shots, acupuncture, yoga, and three months of intense physical therapy, Arthritis prohibits any full-body-weight running.
9/27/12 Gave up my my spot on the Tillman Foundation 2012 New York City Marathon race team.
One door closes, another one opens:
The promoters of the New York City Marathon offers a slot to charitable entities like The Pat Tillman Foundation. The slot allows for a race team of sixteen members. For the privilege of running the great NYC Marathon, each team member pledges to raise $4,000 to provide assistance to student athletes in need. To date I have been reluctant to reach out to friends and institutions for support in meeting my pledge. I could not in good conscience ask for money after it became doubtful that I could participate in the race.
Enter Mark Zimmer and the continued support of the Tillman Foundation. Mark has agreed to be my replacement on the race team. The foundation has worked out a plan for Mark and I to work together to raise the outstanding pledge obligation of $2,120. Any shortage that exists in December 2012 will come out of my pocket. Just so you know, early on I personally contributed $700 to show I had “skin in the game.” I intend to jump into the remaining fundraising with both feet, which means I will be blogging, emailing and making personal calls on behalf of my commitment to the Tillman Foundation. Mark will be right there with me, representing himself, me, Pat Tillman and my dearly loved Bernice to whom I dedicate this noble endeavor. You can donate through my donation page at this link http://www.active.com/donate/teamtillmannewyork12/garrycox70
The Silver Lining
Conversation with Dr. Bauch
Dr. Bauch: (me up on the patient bench, Dr. Bauch seated, holding in his lap what, after 16 years of treatment, has become my voluminous patient chart)
So what can we do for you today, Garry? Says something here about advice on hip replacement.
Garry: (what I’d planned to say) Oh no, doc. I’m thinking I could be a candidate for Viagra. All the adds say “consult your Dr. before using.” I figured I should check to see if me being on blood thinners would hurt my chances.
(what I actually said) To be honest, the mere thought of that kind of surgery scares the hell out of me. I already know enough about the replacement procedure to last me a lifetime.
Dr. Bauch: What is it about the surgery that bothers you?
Garry: Well, the fact that I’m on blood thinners for one. I don’t want to terminally bleed out on the operating table.
Dr. Bauch: You won’t. If anything, being on blood thinners will work to your advantage.
Garry: How does that work?
Dr. Bauch: One of the biggest problems with this type surgery is that people tend to sit around a lot afterwards. This causes pooling in the extremities that sometime leads to strokes. You are already on blood thinners to reduce the likelihood of a stroke. The surgeon will know in advance to do what is necessary to prevent excessive bleeding. Put it another way, your condition will insure you of extra attention. You’re an active guy and probably won’t sit around, but even that they will pay more attention to.
Garry: What about age doc?
Dr. Bauch: Not so much about age. It’s about your physical condition. You’re in good health and you’re in good shape.
Garry: So it’s not about my age now. But this is what everybody keeps asking me. “Do you want to endure this pain until you get to be 75 or 80 and than have the surgery?”
Dr. Bauch: Your body’s age and your chronological age don’t automatically match up. Right now, your body is closer to 60 years old than 70. You shouldn’t be any more at risk when you turn 75. Now when you, or anybody, reaches 80 all bets are off.
Garry: You know I’ve stopped running, right.
Dr. Bauch: How do you feel about that. I know in the past I wouldn’t dare suggest you stop running. You wouldn’t hear about it. Like it was a death sentence or something.
Garry: I thought I would die without running. No purpose in life and all that. I think I’m past that. I’m closer to my family and friends now. I have my writing and my theatre. Maybe I can’t run but I can still hold my own on the dance floor.
Dr. Bauch: How are you doing with the loss of Bernice.
Garry: The worst part seems to be over. I’m not immobilized by the pain anymore. They say one thing you have to do after the death of a loved one is to accept your new reality. I’m getting some purchase with that. Big change is my condo. For 16 years it looked like our place. Now it’s looking more and more like my place. And I’m planning a big 70th birthday party for myself. My daughter Brett will be in town to help me with that.
Dr. Bauch: I’m glad to hear all that. I see a big change in your attitude.
Garry: A good attitude isn’t going to help my hip much though, right?
Dr. Bauch: (smiling) It will help everything, Garry. Just be aware of one thing. I think I told you this before. People have the idea that arthritis is linear, a gradual deterioration. But it doesn’t work that way. You go along at a certain level, you manage it, then you experience a precipitous decline in your mobility along with more pain.
Garry: Yeah, I think I’ve already experienced a couple of those percipt…what you said…drops.
Dr. Bauch: So you know where that puts us, don’t you.
Garry: (smiling) Right back where we started from.
Dr. Bauch: You remember what I told you after your first x-ray?
Garry: Like it was yesterday. I said, “How long can I keep this up?” and you said…
Dr. Bauch: As long as you can stand it my friend.
Both of Us: As long as you can stand it.
Garry: Since Bernice died I’ve learned not to take anything for granted.
Dr. Bauch: You’re happy to take it one day at a time, right?
Garry: Bet your ass, doc!
Dr. Bauch: (looking down at my chart) Good to hear. You need any scripts refilled?
I walked/limped back to my car in a jubilant mood, but still wishing I had played my Viagra joke.