A few months ago, the palm of my right hand started itching. After a couple of weeks, a lump appeared under the skin. I ignored it at first. I had just taken up knitting, and because I hold the yarn in such a way that it rubs against my hand exactly there, I told myself it was an allergic reaction to it.
The lump proved to be pretty persistent. It didn't go away. It didn't hurt, but I caught myself rubbing it absentmindedly with my left thumb sometimes, so it was obviously at the back of my mind.
I finally decided to see the doctor about it. He compared my right palm to my left, rubbed them, made me bend my fingers this way and that until he was satisfied with his diagnosis.
What I have is a benign, often slow-progressing condition called Dupuytrens contracture. Try saying that quickly three times. What it means is that tissue builds up under the skin of your hand, which pulls at your fingers and can cause the affected ones to become bent over the years. Advantages to getting this condition include, but are not limited to, amusing guests at parties with your Captain Hook impressions. I need to work on mine. I only drew a polite smile from the doctor when I tried it. Maybe it's because I can still straighten my fingers? It's not authentic enough.
Apparently, it's more likely that you'll somehow get teleported to Mars and then promptly get hit by a bus driven by mutant sloths than I, a woman under 60, should get afflicted with this condition. So, despite my usual optimistic disposition when it comes to medicinal issues, I am not entirely sure that I won't be one of the few lucky ones who also develop a lump in the sole of their foot.
I don't need to tell you what a painful lump in the sole of a runner's foot would mean for said runner's future running prospects. I don't need to tell you what a scary thought that is for someone who, when not running, is thinking about running.
I don't worry often, but when I do, I usually worry about the past. About things I've done, things I haven't done. Things I've said or should have said. I don't worry about the future. But this? This worries me. It might take years before my fingers get affected. I don't care about that. Worst case scenario, I can't open jars and have to wear mittens instead of gloves during the winter. Clapping my hands might become a challenge. But, even though it's a remote possibility that it might ever come to that, I worry about my feet. My brave warriors that have carried me through forests and on beaches, on mountains and through golden fields.
Sure, there are worse things in the world. The Big C. Ebola. Multiple sclerosis. Boy bands. But thinking about how some people suffer even more doesn't make me feel better. It makes me feel worse. And hey, don't worry! I could still get all those things! (Except boy bands. I don't think I'll ever ”get” boy bands.)
You want me to try living without running? You try living without oxygen. If you're a runner, you understand.
When I told her about my condition, my colleague gave me the following advice:
”Run all you can, while you can”.
And that is exactly what I intend to do.