Wednesday, September 3, 2014

A Season of Transition: College, Career and Next Steps

It's been a while since I've posted.  Let's face it, I've been living life in the most glorious way.  As I think back on the past few months, there have been some major shifts within my life and close loved ones.  I've got a lot of ground to cover, so here goes:

Archery Career - Going out with a Bang
My original goal was to compete my way onto the US Paralympic Archery Team and compete at the 2016 Rio games.  Progress was good, made some strong wins and then a shift occurred.  There is new leadership at World Archery which is the organization that sets the rules for archery worldwide.  With this new team in place, it was decided that the trunk division which I was classified in should be and has been deleted, completely removed from the rule books.  Why?  I've been told that WA felt that athletes in this division would best be served as abled-bodied athletes.  Well, that really didn't create a level playing field for those in the now defunct division. 

Despite my efforts to appeal and run my concerns up the food chain (a WA committee in Switzerland reviewed my case), the decision was not reversed.  Shortly after this decision was made, I fell again and landed on my left arm, aka: bow arm, and have not been able to get proper strength to hold the bow since then.  I wrapped up my archery career taking 1st place in the US Indoor National Tournament and setting a new National record!  I hear you, God, this chapter has closed, time to move on.

Medical Updates
Shortly after my last blog post, I was diagnosed with osteoarthritis and trochanteric bursitis.  It became very painful to walk as my joints were on fire.  Fortunately, I do not have RA, but the bursitis has been particularly uncomfortable.  Trochanteric bursitis is inflammation of fluid in sacs around the hips and is sometimes caused by DDD (degenerative disc diseased) in the lumbar area which is exactly what I had.  Doctors had me on a slew of meds which never really helped.  As time went on, I didn't like the idea of being on meds so I went on a quest to create a supplement routine that could replace the meds.  I've finally got the right combination and was able to toss the meds. 

Over the past few months, spasms that used to occur several times throughout the week now occur daily and last much longer, anywhere from 30 minutes to a few hours.  Epilepsy was ruled out last month and I'm due for another MRI.  It will be nice when doctors determine cause of these issues.

Nutrition Changes
A couple of months ago our family decided to become GF V (gluten free vegan).  Why?  I feel there may be some sort of connection between food and my neurological issues.  Also because I don't want to contribute to animal suffering and also want to minimizing my ecological footprint.  We are all feeling so much better and have a ton of more energy.  I've watched many documentaries throughout the years but the two recent ones that really clicked with me are Vegucated and Hungry For Change.  If you're not aware of how animals are processed and want to learn more about how our food choices impact not only our health but the environment as well, these are two powerful films available on Netflix.  I recently learned about Earthlings and I have to say this is the most raw and difficult film to watch.  This film shows graphic scenes, not for the faint at heart.

We made the change cold turkey (pardon the pun) and have found the transition to be pretty easy.  We've been on a few holidays where eating out away from home might come as a challenge, but with a little homework, we made it work.  Lizzie and Jeremy were both out of town recently, each in different states, and they were able to stay on course with their nutrition. 

Family Changes
Early last year, my dad started dating a wonderful woman whom both dad and my mom knew as they live in the same community.  Her husband passed away a bit before my mom passed and the two found peace and healing in their new relationship.  A few weeks ago, we attended their wedding!  It was a bittersweet day for me as I still miss talking to my best friend throughout the week.  My new mom is a loving woman and through her, Dad's faith in God has strengthened.

Lizzie is dual enrolling this school year and is taking full load.  At this pace she may graduate high school with a college degree at the age of 16!  I'm still amazed how eager and determined she is when it comes to her school studies.

Late spring this year Jeremy decided it was time to make a move in his career.  We prayerfully asked God to show him the right path.  The right opportunity presented itself not too long ago and he is enjoying his new role.  He is in the same field (IT) and has been blessed with the task to build out a new area of a fantastic company.

Next Steps, Literally
Before I became a para archer late in 2012, I was a race walker with the Achilles Track Club.  I'll never be able to jog because of my hardware, but I can walk.  I did a few races and then the severe joint pain settled in and I couldn't maintain my walk training anymore.  That's when I took up archery.  Since my supplement routine has been working really well with keeping joint pain at bay, I've returned to my Achilles family and have been training again.  Achilles is a club that encourages athletes with disabilities to participate in races by either jogging, walking or hand cycling.  Since there isn't a chapter in Atlanta, the Nashville chapter took me in years ago. 

So, what might my new goals be you may be thinking?  As crazy as it may sound, I will walk and finish the 2015 NYC marathon!  As an Achilles athlete, I'm guaranteed a slot in the NYC race with two guides walking with me.  There are a few walkers who have finished the race in several hours to 30+ hours.  I'm training so that I finish the race in 9 hours or less, basically before it gets dark and colder.  I was invited to do this year's race, but 2 months prep time to train is not enough time for me to be ready by race day on Nov 2.

If you are interested in joining me at local races, I'll post details on FB.  I may never be the fastest, but I will always finish.

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