“Can” Overshadows the “Cannot”
I loved jumping hurdles in gym class. I was 12 and knew my heart was bigger than average due to “something that was fixed with surgery when I was nine.” I did get tired easily, but I could still run. It made me proud to put my long legs to good use and see that I was one of the few people in my class who could jump hurdles. It gave me a boost of confidence and a rush of adrenaline, a sense of power at an age when I needed it very much.
Physical activity continued to be a part of my life for years. I mostly loved dancing, even if I huffed and puffed more than the rest of the girls. In later years, I actually had to stop dancing and stand awkwardly on stage while I caught my breath during a presentation. One time, I just walked off before the dance was over.
It’s hard to come to terms with the reality of limitations when you have done nothing to bring it upon yourself. But with time comes acceptance, and you learn to be okay with who you are. You learn to be okay, depending on the day, with what you can do and with what you can’t. Sometimes one takes up all of your attention, while you forget the other.
Thankfully, upon discovering the community of patients that live with Pulmonary Hypertension (PH) just like me, I gained a new perspective. Suddenly, seeing what I could do overshadowed what I couldn’t. And in the days when I felt bad about what I couldn’t do, Team PHenomenal Hope stepped up.
Team PHenomenal Hope Mexico came to my city to participate in the 2017 Renegade Triathlon. I knew what a triathlon was in theory, but I had never witnessed one live. What seemed like a thousand hours went by, everyone standing in the sun cheering for their teams, watching the athletes rushing by panting, sweating, dehydrated, and pushing themselves to physical exhaustion.
I couldn’t believe how they were still moving. I watched them go. I cheered for them. I saw them smile and dedicate their efforts to us at the finish line. I would have passed out two minutes in, I thought. And here they are, two hours later, and they can move and think and talk at the same time, all for us patients of PH.
It’s something I find amazing, that people who are out of breath can still think properly and form coherent sentences without looking or sounding like they will pass out. I notice it because I can’t do it. This reminds me that they’re not sick. They’re healthy, and they’re using their gift of life to raise awareness of an illness that has taken away too many people too soon. We need better access to treatments, but most of all we need the cure for our struggling bodies. And this phenomenal team has given us something that there’s never too much of — hope.