2 years ago this week, life changed. My then fiance, now husband, Rey, was employed in a group home as a direct care worker for individuals with traumatic brain injuries. One of the residents had a behavioral issue where he purposely fell to make staff catch him. Rey caught him and herniated a disc and now suffers from Cauda Equina Syndrome. Basically, this means that Rey spent a couple weeks in the hospital after having an emergency partial discetomy and is now relearning how to walk. He had nerve damage which caused foot drop, some numbness on the pads of his feet, loss of muscle, and poor balance. Thanks to loads of physical therapy and incredible determination on Rey's part, he progressed from using the wheelchair 24/7 to a walker and now to a cane. He still uses the wheelchair all time around the apartment because it is actually more of a challenge for him to stop and go because of his poor balance than it is for him to walk longer distances. He uses a cane on most outings. Although, he usually waits in the car if I go grocery shopping because it is too much work for him to walk around a store like Meijers...especially because I am easily distracted and tend to take an hour to make important decisions like which deodorant to buy. He has come a long way and I am incredibly proud of him and all that he has accomplished. I am proud that he hasn't gotten discouraged and that he fights hard each day to do what we all take for granted.
That said, my decision to start making running a regular part of my life was not easy. Rey had to give me his blessing (which he thought was ridiculous). Without his support, I wouldn't have been able to start running and taking control of my health. Rey stays at home alone all day long and then I come home and go running. It feels ridiculous. It feels incredibly selfish. He knows that he could choose on any given day to ask me to stay home and spend more time with him, and I would happily do so. However, he has decided that if I am healthy and happy, we will be healthier and happier as a couple. He has decided to support me in my efforts to be more active and to encourage me to continue working hard to get in shape.
For six months, I have been abandoning him to run in the evening several nights a week. I then come home and get to spend a whopping 2-3 hours with him before bed. He doesn't give me grief about it. He pushes me to work harder. He tells me that he is proud of me and that he is glad that I am making these changes in my life because it makes me feel better about myself. He does this in spite of the fact that he cannot go running with me. In spite of the fact that he is by himself all day long and he is bored and lonely. He could be bitter about it. He could be angry that I tell him about my runs and races while he is still struggling with walking short distances. Instead, he jokes, "I could do a 5K, too. It would just take a few hours."
I am so appreciative of his support as I learn how to fit this new hobby into our lives. As a thank you, my new goal is to work on running more in the morning so that it stops interfering with our time together. If I run in the AM, he'll still be asleep and won't miss me at all. Then I can come home in the evening and spend more time with him. I have a hard time waking up early on weekdays, but I am going to make this a priority. I want to show him that I appreciate the support, encouragement, and love that he has shown me. This isn't sufficient, but it's something.