Last Saturday I ran my first marathon. I’ve been thinking about it for 20 years and finally did it. It took me almost 6 hours, but I crossed the finish line on my feet. What an amazing feeling. As I was plodding along about mile 21 a guy came up beside me and asked if he could run with me for a bit. As we talked he shared his reason for running the marathon and asked me why I was doing it. After I told him he thanked me for sharing what he considered to be an inspirational story with him. As I thought about it, I realized that there were many stories like this that I had read in the marathon training book I used, as well as online at the RW forum. Those stories helped me with some difficult times in my training and so, for those that are interested; I’m sharing mine with you.
I have a daughter, now 14, who was diagnosed with a kidney disease at age 3. For the next 10 years she took a lot of medications, spent a lot of time in the hospital, and generally did not feel very well. In late 2005 both kidneys were removed and she started dialysis. For the first few months we took her to the clinic 3 times a week where she spent 5-8 hours hooked to a machine that cleaned her blood. We then switched to doing it at home where she spent 10-14 hours a day hooked to a machine. During this time she missed a lot of school, dealt with a lot of pain, and showed an amazing amount of strength in dealing with a situation that would have had most people in a deep depression.
In January of ’07 we decided, with her doctors, that it was time to begin thinking about a transplant because her quality of life was so poor. We had a choice of putting her on the dead donor list, a 6 month to 6 year wait in our area, or finding a living donor. I immediately volunteered, they took a blood sample, and we waited. After a couple weeks the doctor called us in and told us that I am almost a perfect match. Unfortunately, the surgeons wouldn’t operate on me because my BMI and blood pressure were too high. I can’t explain how it feels as a father to be told that you can’t do something for your child that will dramatically change the quality of her life because you are too fat. The doctor explained that they were going to work with her treatments to hopefully have her healthy enough for transplant in 3 months and we could put her on the dead donor list at the time if we hadn’t found a live donor. I told him that wouldn’t be necessary, that I would do whatever I had to do to be able to donate in 3 months and begged them to continue with the necessary testing. To their credit, they put some faith in me and agreed to cover the expenses of the testing up front; assuming I would lose the weight and insurance would eventually reimburse them.
Three months later, and 25 pounds lighter, just barely at the high end of what the surgeons considered to be a safe BMI, I gave my daughter a kidney and her life has not been the same. She is a completely different little girl. She looks healthy and happy, she hangs out with friends, she has changed dramatically for the better. As I lay in the hospital recovering I vowed that I would never find myself in a similar situation. I also am not going to let my kids live an unhealthy lifestyle because of me. I made the biggest fitness goal I could think of and on Sept.20, less 50 pounds, I finished my first marathon. I won’t try to describe what went through my mind as I crossed that finish line, hands high in the air, choking back tears, in 1646 place. It was the culmination of an amazing series of events that changed the lives of me and my family. This is why I run.