Athletics are an expensive pursuit. Adaptive athletics, well, that’s next level expensive. While putting in the hours with a full time job, I’ve been able to self-fund a chunk of what’s needed, and I’ve been connecting with different non-profit organizations to help with these expenses as well, and I try to support them back in ways I am able.
The more I dive down this rabbit hole of adaptive sports, the less fulfilling my day job is. Don’t worry, I’m hopefully not done with the contributing workforce anytime soon. I’ve got to have something to pay for the other things, but I am urged to find ways I can progress to the competition level with sports, now, while I can.
This winter term, I was able to work with some design students on ideas and prototypes that might help with paratriathlon (ProjectParaTri!). In one of our testing sessions, Kinsey (one of the designers), asked me to talk a little about why sports are important to me (we were working on race wheelchair stuff, in particular).
As something I’ve become very passionate about, it’s hard to sum that up in a small answer, but I tried nonetheless, and my answer turned out something like this:
With ataxia, whatever disease I have, there are symptoms. Symptoms such as not being able to coordinate my legs and feet to walk, having a vocal spasm that makes it difficult to sometimes understand what I am trying to say, feeling that lack of coordination and the tremor creep up to my hands, making me fumble with my fingers at fine motor skills, and having to pick-up beverages and food with both hands to avoid spilling the contents, or shaking my coffee grounds all over the counter. My morning routine of getting ready for work, doubling in time. And symptoms such as 3 bladder infections over the last six months. All of these symptoms are things that my body is deciding to do, without me. They are effectively out of my control.
When I get in the race wheelchair, all of those symptoms, they go away. I may be loosing the battle for control over aspects of my body, but this, this I can control. And that’s enough. More than enough, that is powerful, addicting, a catalyst that explodes into all other areas of life. If you ever see me engage beast mode, this is what I am tapping into. Why wouldn’t the importance of this become all consuming?
Last year turned into prioritizing and sorting out my driving and household situation in response to symptoms progressing. I had wanted to engage in more competition, but it had to take a backseat to the more primary needs of life. This year, that stuff is all still there and has to be dealt with, but I have been freeing up time and energy to pour into athletic sports, as much as possible.
I still have moments of slight panic, wondering what I’ve gotten myself into. Then I do and that fades away. Yeah, it’s going to be work, it’s going to be hard, there is high potential for disappointment, but all of that, I’d gladly accept over the alternative of sitting idle and wasting away.
Stay tuned, in the next day or two, I have another post coming with another recent development…