Sunday, November 18, 2012

You're Doing What?

It has come and gone! A group of 50 dancers and five instructors gathered on Friday, November 9th to "Shake it for PH"... and, if I may say so, we did so in style. :)

Really, it was such a blast. I can't believe how well everything went. (I even asked my husband to confess if anything had gone wrong behind the scenes that I didn't know about, and he had nothing to report).

Doing these things is always eye opening for me. I wrote earlier about how I am a rather reluctant fundraiser. All of that was happily forgotten as I watched friends, old and new, come together to support the PH cause. And there was a good handful of people I didn't know at all there too. They probably just came for the Zumba (Good! That was the idea!), but I hope they left knowing a little bit more about PH too.

I was so touched at how people came together. I think it's safe to say that through this process new friendships were formed and old ones deepened - priceless.

You can see lots of pics HERE.

Now... there's something I really want to address. This is the second annual Zumbathon. And both years I have fielded questions from PHers on what exactly I was thinking with this event, and questions on why I would want to hold an athletic event at all, and was I participating? Hard questions to answer, because the emotions behind them can run high. After all, PH more often than not robs you of even typical physical stamina, and that is hard to deal with.

So, here's why I did it: Zumba is ridiculously popular. People who Zumba likely don't come in contact with a lot of PHers. I could therefor throw an event that would draw in a community of people who had never heard of PH and would come first for the Zumba, but leave with so much more. And this theory works.

Full disclosure: I can Zumba. And I work out several times a week. Most PHers can not. This makes me both very very grateful, and more than a little guilty feeling. I have the active sick person's version of survivor's guilt, I think. I struggle with it. A lot. I simply don't want other patients to feel bad. But I don't really want to hide it either. Heck, I kind of want to celebrate. Because I know what a gift this is, and I worked very hard for it.

I really want to see the holistic health focus in the PH Community continue to grow. I remember very clearly the first day I tried to work out in my basement after I was properly medicated and starting to feel better. I lasted two minutes, and ended up on my couch desperately trying not to pass out. But once the room stopped spinning, I got up. And I did it again. And again. And again. And I changed my eating habits, and spent time in meditation, and worked with a naturopath, and just generally set my mind on the whole idea of gaining some sort of good activity level back.

It took me maybe a year of this just to feel like I could go out past my basement, or walk around my neighborhood. And when I did, I started water aerobics, and wore a floaty, and hung out with the old ladies... they were working at just my speed. And I kept going. And going.

A little over a year ago, I took a deep breath and walked into Valley Ballet (host of the Zumbathon) to check out their fitness classes. Dancing is in my blood. It was, by far, one of the hardest things taken from me when I got sick. I thought maybe I was ready to try again. It was really challenging at first, but I did it. And I'm still doing it. And I never once leave that studio without a deep sense of appreciation for the gift I have been given.

Now, maybe that can't be the story for every PHer. In fact, I'm sure it can't be. The disability that comes with PH is VERY real. I am also very aware that there is a chance it may be a part of my future. But I do believe that we, all of us, sick or not, can push ourselves further to better health. It is not easy. It isn't meant to be easy. But it took us a lifetime, or maybe a catastrophic illness, to get us where we are today, and it will take time and significant effort to work towards improvement. Giving up is easy. Not accepting the status quo, and working like hell to change it, is what makes a real difference. Besides raising money for PH, and spreading awareness, my own private little reason for doing a Zumbathon is to honor that process, and celebrate the results.

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