The Courage to Try
About a month ago, I started experiencing pain and discomfort on the medial side of my knee during runs. After quickly realizing that simply running through the pain wasn’t an option, I took various recovery measures from icing and rest to strength training and getting fitted for new running shoes- all to no avail. Short on time and desperate for answers, I made an appointment with my physician. Following some preliminary questions, he sent me to the radiology lab for an X-ray and we reviewed the results together. As he scanned the images, his facial expression indicated something was wrong.
“You have exactly what I was hoping you wouldn’t,” he said. “You have OCD.”
OCD, also known as Osteochondritis dissecans of the knee, is a rare degenerative joint disorder in which pieces of the bone break off from the knee joint surface, causing pain and swelling. Most cases of OCD require either surgery or an elimination of higher-impact activities, including running.
As I listened to the prognosis and various treatment options, my mind couldn’t shake the cruel irony of my diagnosis: “You have OCD.” It wasn’t the first time I had heard those words. Indeed, OCD is an acronym I know all too well, as I have battled the demons of its more familiar counterpart, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, for many years. The wounds from that battle still run deep and my scars have yet to fully heal.
After years of therapy and treatment, OCD is coming back to rear its ugly head once more. And this new manifestation is putting in limbo my future as a runner, something I have come to hold so dear. For me, running is more than just exercise or sport. In many ways, running has become my saving grace- my way to re-center, de-stress and disconnect from the constraints of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. I view running as both a sacred and liberatory practice, a source of healing and self-reflection.
Yet in a cruel twist of fate, OCD of the knee is threatening my ability to engage in an action—running—that has played such an integral role in in treating my OCD of the mind.
But every misfortune is a lesson; every obstacle, an opportunity for self-growth. Indeed, trying times turn our energy inward. They slow us down, forcing us to be more intentional, to determine the best route and sometimes even reevaluate our path. With humility and sadness, I open my mind and heart to the sort of wisdom that comes only from knowing such hardship.
It is with new eyes and unwavering determination that I will run the NYC marathon. And whether I cross the finish line or stop after the first mile, I will find comfort in knowing that I tried.
OCD—in either of its manifestations—might hinder my ability, but it will not hold me back from trying…because the courage to try, despite the risk of failure or embarrassment, is a lesson in itself.
Maru is “donating” an act of kindness for everyone who donates to her run in the NYC marathon November 4th. She anticipates being able to fulfill many of her commitments to the people who have donated $405 so far to Maru’s journey. We’ll see what the next few weeks hold for Maru’s running, but no doubt storm Sandy will provide many opportunities to pay it forward.