Are you living life to its fullest?

Oct 03, 2013

My workouts are 99% mental and 1% physical. Am I strong? Yes. Am I in shape? Absolutely. Do I work out? Everyday of my life. Do I exercise? Yes, but not the way you would like to think.

I am sick. Some might say I am dying.  Without life sustaining dialysis three times a week I would be dead without question.

I WORK OUT EVERYDAY, MENTALLY. The physicality of what I have been through in the past four years is not measured by how many situps I can do. It is measured by the simple fact that I am still here. I am alive. I am as mentally strong as I have ever been. The medical issues I have gone through because of severe diabetes are almost too much to list here. I can't even remember how many surgeries and procedures I've had in the past four years.

Prior to becoming severely ill I would lift weights. I'd work many hours at my job of counseling juvenile delinquents, which if you're in the field you know is both mental and very physical at times. I played basketball almost everyday that allowed me the time to play. I played in several rec leagues and was fairly good for a kid that was barely 6-0 and 235 pounds. I wasn't great but I used what little athleticism I had to play as hard as I could as often as I could. If you saw me now you wouldn't see the same person I once was but a bigger, sicker, more out of shape version of my former self.

However, mentally, I am stronger than ever.

I try like hell to keep a positive outlook. I am fairly successful at this for a few reasons. Mostly because of my mother who I watched die slowly for twelve plus years due to having a double lung transplant and who ultimately passed away from cancer from the anti-rejection medication. My upbringing was another reason for my positive outlook. I never once heard my mom complain during her illness. She died with as much bravery, dignity and happiness as a person could be who knew that she was going to die. It's not something I will ever forget. The lessons I've learned from her will stay with me for the rest of my life.

My family that is still with me is another reason I am as strong mentally as I am today. By family I mean both immediate and all the friends I have made over the years. Without them I wouldn't have the motivation to keep going. I have friends like Chris G who talked me into making a small plea on Facebook that will soon change my life forever. I need a kidney transplant and he talked me into asking for one in a post by explaining to me how selfish I was being by not asking. He said not asking was disrespectful to the people who love me. He told me that there are people out there willing to help and all I need do is ask. He couldn't have been more correct and someday I think I owe the man my life.

My friend Carly K who texts me almost every morning on her way to work just to tell me something stupid that she knows will crack me up. My friend Jen W that I met because of the post who checks on me everyday to see if I'm ok and actually cares about the answer. She gave me the confidence to write this little story. My friend Sean S and Dan H (my brothers brother in law) who come to pick me up and pushes me around in a wheelchair and are my eyes when I'm not seeing so well wherever we go anywhere just because they don't allow me to feel left out of everyday life. My stepdad Chris who is there at a moment's notice whenever I need him. He also loved and protected my mom with no regard for himself. I also have my brother Derek and his new family of his wife Colleen and two baby girls, Finnley and Everly and all of his in-laws that make me feel like I am one hundred percent a part of their family.

And then there's my dad. What do I say about the man I quite literally owe everything that I am at this moment to? He has been there for every appointment. He's been there for every visit to the ER numbering close to one hundred. He's been there for all the procedures. He was there when the doctors told me I may go completely blind. Luckily, they saved one of my eyes to which I can almost see normally. He was there for all the vomiting, all the horrendous bloody noses, all the news, good and bad. He is my rock, he is my life. He is the best friend I could or will ever have. He is there when I'm frustrated and crying and I'm a mess. He keeps me moving forward. Forgetting what has happened and looking to the positive for what we can accomplish. Even when I treat him like crap he comes back at me like I am completely healthy. He doesn't allow me to be weak or be sick all while respecting the fact that sometimes I am. He offered me his kidney and fought with the doctor when he told him he was too old by a year or so to donate. He fights for me when he doesn't think I am getting adequate care and has taken me to cities like Cleveland and Pittsburgh for treatment better than what I'm getting in my hometown of Erie, Pa. We have driven countless hours and miles together, sometimes pissed off, sometimes sick and often times laughing. I owe him my life and would gladly give it.

I wanted to give up many times and these are the people that wouldn't allow me. They have stood by me. They are my workout partners.

I'm telling you all this because while it helps to be physically strong and fit, there is no replacement for being mentally strong.

I would kill to be able to run again. I would love to be able to play basketball again. Someday I will. I have workout partners that keep me mentally and emotionally strong so that one day when I beat this thing, and I will beat this thing, I can do all the physcial working out that I long to do.

I am here to tell you that you can be strong but you are only as strong as the people around you are and you allow yourself to be. Next time you go to workout think of all the possibilities that could keep you from doing so and be thankful for what you can do. You don't have to bench 500 pounds or run a marathon. You don't have to climb the highest hills to prove how strong you are. You simply have to put your mental faculties to use and know that you can do anything you want, one step at a time, one pound at a time. Things could always, ALWAYS be worse.

Someday I will see you in the weight room or on the court. Someday I will be back working out again or burying a jump shot from 25 feet.

This I promise, because mentally, I am strong.


Category: Inspiration

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