Have you ever been to a running track on an early summer morning? The grass sparkles with dew and the air is so fresh it feels like you’re the very first one to breathe it. The sun paints vibrant strokes of gold and pink as it rises up from the other side of the world. That’s where I was one morning in June, 2008. I’m a runner. I love the feel of the wind on my face and the track beneath my feet. My dream was to run in the Olympics, and that morning it felt like the world was at my fingertips. At 11 years old I was training hard to run the 3000 meter race in the upcoming Junior Olympics. I ran lap after lap, stopping, starting, timing, faster, faster, faster…
Two years later my dream to run in the Olympics is still there. In fact, it’s stronger than ever. But two years can change a lot in a person’s life, and for me, they’ve changed everything. I’ve been diagnosed with something called POTS, or Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome. I have a severe form of POTS. I have daily seizures, and I’m unable to stand for more than a few minutes without fainting. I know what it’s like to be at rock bottom. For me, POTS has caused me to ask deeper questions than I’ve ever had to ask about my faith and what I truly believe. I’ve cried out to God, asking Him why this was happening, why He was allowing this.
But I’ve felt His love for me even when I had incredible physical suffering, and I’ve learned just how powerful my God is. I believe that God is there and loves me and has been with me every step of the way. I’ve seen circumstances working out for the good and Bible verses appearing at just the right time. Doctors have prayed by my bedside. I’ve felt His presence, love and peace flooding in where before there was only pain. I’ve seen prayer working before my eyes – situations turning around, medications being administered just in time, or 4-month out appointments scheduled for the next day. I’ve been able to share my faith and my life with hundreds of people through email updates, sometimes helping others with their own POTS diagnoses. God has become more real to me than ever before.
The blessings that I’ve found in this journey are truly more than I could have ever imagined. I’ve learned what really matters in life, and what is just temporary. When I was diagnosed with POTS, everything I defined myself by in this world was taken away from me. And yet I know now more than ever that there’s something better coming. I believe this world isn’t going to last – that’s a reality that POTS has brought home to me. And I now know that I don’t need to worry because I believe that no matter what happens on this earth, Jesus is coming someday to take me back with Him to heaven. And I am looking forward to that day!
Until then, I have to stay strong. POTS patients have a good prognosis and they often recover as they grow older. However, the process is slow and hard and there are plenty of opportunities to get discouraged. There are still times when I cry myself to sleep, there are still times when I ask the question why, and there are still times when I wonder if I’ll ever run again. Nevertheless, my Savior has carried me this far, and I know He’ll carry me to the finish line, too. The race I’ve been chosen to run may not be the same as I first thought it would be. Now, perhaps, getting out of bed the next morning will be my triumph instead of breaking the Olympic ribbon. Either way, I know I can look forward to the future.
I know I will be able to run again. Maybe not in the Olympics, maybe not for a trophy, but I will be able to run. So I look forward to that day when I can once again step onto a track on an early summer morning…when I can once again feel the wind on my face and the fresh air in my lungs...when I can see the stripes of gold in the sky and the sparkling dew on the grass… But ultimately I’m looking forward to the day when the race of this life is over, and I can finally run into His arms.
Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:14
UPDATE (12-18-11): God has brought more beauty out of my pain than I ever could have imagined. Every few weeks now, it seems, I’m given the opportunity to share my testimony with someone. At 15 years old, I now have no seizures, and barely any fainting episodes. I’m only on 4 medications, and I’m managing a full high school workload. And 2 weeks ago, I ran my first whole, complete mile in 3 years! I hope to start up spring track in a few months, but even if I don’t, that’s okay. I have many other hobbies such as writing and photography to keep me busy, and I’m just amazed God is allowing me to do this at all. He has been so, so good to me…I am thankful for every breath I take, every moment I stand, every day I live…whether or not that day includes running. He has a plan for my life, and I’m going to trust him. After all, he’s done a good job so far.
To all my many DYNA friends who have commented on my profile, or PMd me, or replied to my topics, or called me on the phone, or chatted with me in chat, or met me at the chill, or laughed with me, or cried with me, or encouraged me, or held my hand...thank you. Thank you, Dominelli family, for founding and running DYNA. With you and with God, I know I can do anything.