Why I Do It — Family History

Like many athletes, I have a difficult time eplaining to my family why I swim, bike, run with such intensity.  My older brother sings in four choirs in Tokyo and my twin brother loves to fish.   He’ll drive 14 hours one way from Texas to Colorado to fish…all by himself.  But I’m sure both my brothers don’t spend a minimum of 15 hours a week pursuing their passions like I do swimming, cycling and running.  It doesn’t make me more committed to my interests than my brothers.  If anything, it might mean I’m the one who’s nuts and a little out of balance.  But it does make it hard to explain why I do what I do and probably even harder for them to understand.  I can think of at least ten good reasons why I do it, but I need to look no further than my own family medical history for motivation.

My dad starting having mild heart attacks in 1992 when he was in his late 50s.  Since then, he’s had five stents put in his heart and he’s on his fourth pacemaker.  He’s been in and out of the ER and hospitalized so many times even my dad has given up trying to document all of it.  He has also recovered from bladder cancer and had two operations on an enlarged prostate.

My mother had brain surgery in 2000 to implant electrodes that control the tremors in her hands.  A couple years later she had her knee replaced with a titanium one but has never walked the same.  She was told she has an enlarged heart in the early 90s but never did anything about it.

My youngest sister had gastric bypass surgery a few years ago after suffering through obesity most her life.  It was not entirely successful and led to two additional operations.  Then she was diagnosed with progressive multiple sclerosis and now needs regular steroid treatments.  She’s had a full hysterectomy and is facing surgery this year to fuse several ruptured vertebrae in her neck and upper back.  She is also diabetic.

My other younger sister has maintained her health, but she works full-time, has 3-year old triplets, a 6 year old daughter, and she’s pregnant again.  I don’t know how she keeps her sanity, much less her health.

My older brother had epilepsy in his early 20s and suffered through grand mal seizures for years before it finally went into remission or just disappeared.  As far as I know, he’s healthy now although I asked him a couple months ago if he ever gets any exercise living in Japan.  He said, “never.”

My twin brother nearly died in 2006 after contracting necrotizing fasciitis (NF), also known as flesh eating bacteria.  We will never know how he got it, but he was one of the lucky ones.  NF moves so fast most people die within the first 24 – 48 hours or suffer multiple amputations.  My brother had his right leg cut open from his groin to his calf and narrowly escaped amputation.  Although we are identical twins, he has had hypertension since his early 20s and has been on blood pressure medication most of his adult life.

As the only family member who hasn’t suffered a major illness or disease, I often feel like my day is coming.  So I make a very conscious effort to relish every workout and every race as if it is my last.  I listen carefully when my coaches talk, I try to encourage others, and I am grateful for my health and my family.

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One Response

  1. Hi Lynn,

    We haven’t meet, but I belong to SVRC, too. (You might remember my comments on the September Challenge–I’m the slow runner with the IT band problem.)

    I read your e-mail that you sent out through the Yahoo group about you and Keven doing the Transrockies race, and I decided to click on the link to your blog. I scrolled down and saw this entry, and I decided to comment.

    I understand how you feel about keeping in shape. Most of my family does exercise, so I don’t relate to the issues of illness in the family. But i DO relate to your desire to stay healthy!! I am not what I would call a strong or athletic person, so I think it’s even more important for me to stay fit! It’s a CHOICE that we make as individuals. I am thankful for all of our modern conveniences, BUT it makes for a very sedentary society!! I strive to stay active. Like I said at the end of my story of the September Challenge, my goal is to be doing race when I’m 80 WITH my children, grandchildren, and even great-children!

    I will keep you and Kevin in prayer as you prepare for this race. I believe in the power of prayer!! I will write the dates of the Transrockies race on my calendar so I pray very specifically on those dates.

    Have a GREAT day!!

    Jody McRoberts :>}

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