About a week ago, I had a freak out about going to Nationals. I've only really raced my bike one time. My goal was to make the Talent Pool time at Nationals. But since I made it at the State Time Trial, I now felt the pressure to make the National Team time (I need to drop 5 seconds per kilometer, a rough sell). I couldn't sleep. My stomach felt queasy (that didn't keep me from eating!). People have invested time and resources and support into this endeavor. I'm racing against The National Team. What if I fail?
But someone pointed out to me (making her $45,000 investment in that graduate degree SO worth it!), that not many people rise up so quickly. In two months, I've gone from being nowhere on the Paralympic radar, to racing (if that is what we are going to call it) at Nationals.
Most of the time, and correctly, people don't think of me as a "disabled person" (or whatever the politically correct term is for "us people." And the truth is, I don't think of myself as being disabled either. Sure, I have friends in LA because of my blue placard that allows me to find parking or park in meters for free. But most of the time I never think about having some limitations. Some things are always going to be impossible (running, jumping, etc.), but for the most part, I get to "do what I want."
At camp a few months ago, it was eye-opening to me to be around other people that have disabilities. I was one of the only athletes who doesn't know any different. In some ways, I feel incredibly blessed to have no idea what it feels like to be "normal." This is the way I am.
But the flip of side of never feeling disabled is that I often don't give myself credit for the things that I've accomplished and how far I've come. A little more than a month ago, it was my 29th anniversary of getting sick. Some wise person told my parents to keep a scrapbook of my four months in the hospital. At the time, I'm sure it seemed outrageous that anyone would ever want to remember that time in my life. But now that book is very important to me. It is the only recollection I have of how sick I really was.
And so....a trip back to 1982 when I became "acquainted" with Guillain Barre Syndrome:
On the other flip side, my disability has given me this incredible opportunity. It takes athletes years and years and years to get where I am now. The field is small and I work really hard.