Monday, September 12, 2011

What Salmon and 10K's have to do with me, or you.

I went to see the Salmon in the Cascades going up 15 feet of boiling, rolling water. They literally jump far beyond the length of the body, and far beyond I could think was possible. “Hell!” was what I said when I saw what the Salmon had to jump, because in Goldstream, the salmon come up the stream but they sure don’t simply leap over or INTO rock. (click the pic) That salmon is a couple feet long.
Once the Salmon starts the run, they don’t eat, which is the way I had already lived, losing the fat, and keeping the weight down in order to do what should be impossible. But then simply because it looks impossible, or what we have decided is impossible or possible in our head.

We simply can’t know what is possible or not until we try. Terry Fox taught me that. Next week is the Terry Fox 10K. Terry Fox designed it when in the hospital so that there is no winner, no loser, no first, no last. And while there is just now, starting, an autonomic rare disease group of seven doctors in the world working together, there are no fundraisers for it. Nor are there for better palliative care, because as the Doctor in the hospital for the dying tries to explain to a VERY important government man about his wife and how she needed to be PRIORITIZED as she had just shat herself. ‘Over there, on the other side of town’ he points, ‘a hospital just paid 50 MILLION for a microscope which detects a certain type of cancer cell faster. But here,” he stood up, “here, we don’t have the aid staff to help people take a shit. Does that tell you about priorities?”

If you are old enough to go to uni, then you probably know someone who has cancer, who has been treated for cancer, who has died from cancer. Because you always ‘have’ cancer after that, since cancer is the beautiful deceiver and all it takes is just one cell to survive. I recommend Wit, with Emma Thompson if you don’t know about the nature of cancer treatment. And while there are BETTER THINGS you can do than money, like for example being there for someone, week after week while they go through treatment, not just the ‘fun weeks’ but ALL weeks. Or volunteer for a palliative center (oh, did you think the people who aren’t cured from cancer mysteriously disappear? Nope, here they are, throwing up – oh as the doctors says, ‘some irritation of the intestinal tract from lips to anus’ – a moment for side splitting laughter of understatement if there is one). Because if there is one thing that is worse than going through treatment is going through it all alone.

Terry Fox ran and tried, and did his 3000 miles and died and Steve Fonyo did it, both to raise funds and awareness to cancer. 1 out of 3 of you will get it, your families will have it, your friends will die from it, it is a disease that should need no introduction. I will be at mile 0 on the 18th, and I will be walking or running for Cancer. A webpage is here (I am a luddite on links and stuff)

Yeah, walking. I might be wheeling too, if I can still move. Five kilometers is what I am aiming for and I have been training for it for two months. But seeing those Salmon last week, I knew exactly that I needed to do something.

I walk because I want every person who has cancer to have something I never had these last four years: HOPE.

I will finish, I will fall, I will not finish, I will be removed, I don't care, because it isn't about how hard it is (and hard it is, as my heart will be beating at 180-220 BPM the entire time, and chest pain normal and otherwise, leg pain, body pain, and two giant hills), but about trying, and raising awareness.

Because while I can’t feel much down there, or even go straight, or stop from falling, I went out and did 43 minutes and change on my feet. And if that doesn’t do it, then I will have to keep going. I didn’t stop, I didn’t sit, or rest. And at 39 minutes I had an ‘infarction’ which felt like a mix of lightning coming in my chest and splattering on my back along with pain which had me on a morning street screaming while I watched my hand and arm go purple. But I kept on, and then lay 2.5 hours, and then got to bed, and couldn’t sleep. And the pain goes on.

How is it possible? I don’t know. If you had asked me before Sunday I would have said it wasn’t. Since my earlier time was 8:05 minutes which I had worked up to. I just saw my death and kept walking toward it. I looked and picked a spot and said to myself, 'You have to get there before you die." And whether I ended up walking into a tree, or backwards, I made that marker and said, "And now it waits over there." And it hurts, every couple seconds I am up, and the edema makes me look like the Pilsbury Dough Girl, and after 15 minutes I have to keep putting my arms over head to get that blood back to my heart, and use one leg far more than the other, but I go. And that’s the point. So now, unless I am chained in hospital or dead, I will be at mile 0 in Victoria. My pain is the future’s gain. Because the other thing I thought when I saw the fish was that if I was a salmon I would think, “Geez, mom, couldn’t you pick someplace…easier to leave your eggs?”

There comes a time when it is about the future, in Salmon and in me. I’m not going to be here long, and life ain’t that fun now. So to go through hell of pain for 36 hours for some awareness or funds raised for cancer, then that seems a good exchange (most of the time, I go through hell of pain for nothing, so this is a win/win).


wendryn said...

You've already gone past what I thought of as impossible - you have fought harder than anyone I know. I hope you make it to your goal.


Elizabeth McClung said...

forty-three minutes of jogging/walking isn't enough? Or is it that I don't 'need' to do more? I don't know but I NEED to do more, and I will. Impossible is a word people give to themselves and use far too often. Two years prep for wheeling, two months for walking and guess which I am doing?

Kate J said...

Go Beth! I do believe this girl can fly. You are awesome, and Terry Fox would say so too if he were around. I'm heading for the sponsor/support page right now.
Love & peace

Neil said...

You're going to walk a 5K. You're mad, Beth. We need more people in this world as mad as you.

Doctors should be studying you to make note of how far beyond "impossible" the human body can really go. And I STILL say your blog should be mandatory reading for every medical student.

Love and zen hugs,

Lorna, Bob and Liam said...

Hmmmm, there's something fishy about this whole post.

Okay, sorry, sorry, it had to be said. *grin*

You do what you need to do, woman, and we'll be cheering you on... and Linda and Cheryl who, no doubt, will be giving you their usual unflagging support.

Lorna, Bob and Liam

cheryl g said...

What ever you need to do I will be there every step of the way, proudly wearing my girl's gotta fly t-shirt.

SharonMV said...

You walked a jagged path over lava rock to see what you wanted to see, breathing that smoke & poisoned air. Who knows how much more you will do the help people with cancer?

Whatever you need to do, I will be here cheering you on.


Elizabeth McClung said...

Thanks. It is time to get dead fish at goldstream for the children to paint (this is an actual government sponsered activity - painting dead salmon for fun ????)

Sorry for my grumpy comment earlier, beyond the strangely incredible pain and limb lock, I had been notified of the universal consent on how soon I would die. Just because all doctors and others agree it is soon, that doesn't make it soon, it just makes it a voice in the head that is hard to ignore.

Elizabeth McClung said...

Thanks for the support, I will fly, the entire walk, I was smiling, how could I not, being 6'3" again and walking/jogging/limping - It was an unexpected gift to me, as was the 40 hours of pain, the sleepless night, and the limb lock today - so, I guess if you play hard (or not so smart) you pay hard. But yes, 5K walk is the goal. And I won't be the slowest person out there, I will be a participant (a distinction Terry Fox understood as he said he was jogging as fast as he could which is why he didn't like joggers to slow down for him)

Kate J said...

I won't be there in person to cheer you on, Beth, or to run alongside you. But I'll be wearing my Girl's Gotta Fly t-shirt (in the rain, in Glasgow) and willing you on, long-distance!

And I neglected to comment on the salmon... it's amazing to see them jump like that, and even more awesome to see them snaffled by a hungry bear, which was another of the memorable things I've seen during past visits to Canada.

Baba Yaga said...

You are quite, beautifully insane. And you keep on proving the impossible possible; and what seems even more remarkable to me, finding ways to make the impossible serve a purpose. If determination can do it, you will.

The priorities are - incredible. High-tech and 'inspiring' over low-tech and humane.

The weirs where I used to live had channels cut into them to make the salmon leaps easier. I've no idea how effective they were.

M. L. Archer said...

You know that if/when you die, God is going take one look, say, "What the hell did I do?" And send you back well and whole so He has extra time to get ready for Beth-a-palooza.

Awesome work with the young kids, my dear. If there is a greater thing than giving another human being hope I don't know what it would be.

Lene Andersen said...

I'll be cheering you on, all the way. I have no idea how you do it, but your constant refusal of the idea of limits is one hell of an inspiration.

Kate J said...

Since 'sponsoring' you for Terry Fox, and sending my last message, I've heard that two people very close to me have cancer. Both have been told it has been 'caught' early enough that treatment should be effective, and their prognosis is a good one, but either way it's a very scary thing for them and their families.
So, when you run, you're doing it for Janet and Shelley. With people like you, and Terry Fox, on their side Beth, my hopes are raised for them. Along with the many many others who have been touched by cancer.

Love and peace

SharonMV said...

Dear Beth,
I hope you are recovering from your walking/jogging. 43 minutes is a long walk.
The salmon painting thing - is that where you paint the salmon & the make a print of the fish on paper? That is actually a traditional art. Don't remember the name of it.

I've been thinking about the salmon going upstream since your post. Not only do they swim upstream and leap up waterfalls, as you said, they don't eat. In fact their whole appearance changes as does their metabolism. These fish go through quite a transformation by the time they reach their place to spawn.


Raccoon said...

It was really good talking to you the other night. I think if you get too down-hills out of the way first, you won't have (much of) a problem.

I mean, beyond the heart rate, the poor oxygen conversion, the infarctions...

Have Linda figure out how far you walked. That will help you to plan your strategies.

AmandaBear said...

You're one of the strongest people I've seen...a true hero. This song is for you, hon:

Tobi said...

Wow, Beth. You continually blow me away with your guts and tenacity. How can any one of us gripe about an achy back or knee after watching you in action? I so wish for the karma you've earned to head your way in this lifetime. You are so remarkable, but that's just words, really. I hope, in learning from you, that I can really be there for my family when they are "in it thick", and need someone by them in the dark times. Thank you for your powerful, powerful words, and even more powerful actions. You are a rare Woman of Courage.