When I was a teeny tiny baby, all seemed well. I slept, I woke, I cried - all the basics. When I started toddling about, however, it became apparent that something was wrong. It was my grandfather who pointed out that I seemed to be walking funny. When my parents couldn't think why that would be, they took me to a doctor to have it checked. A few x-rays and exams later, it turned out I had a congenital hip dislocation, which basically means the hip joint hasn't formed properly.
"Aha!" thought the doctors. "We know how to deal with this," and they put me in double nappies for a while, with the usual course of things being that it encourages the bones to grow properly.
My stubborn little hips were having none of it, though. They stayed dislocated regardless. The next step was to put me in what was called frog plaster. The plaster went from hips to ankles on both legs, with a bar across the knees. You can just about see it in this photo.
I spent much of my toddler stage strapped into this wheelchair
When I was cut out of the plaster, the life of an average child began. I took my first steps when I was approaching two and a half years old and there are a fair amount of photos of me, face full of pride, showing everyone that I had 'new legs.' So on and so forth, until I got to age ten.
I was walking funny again, getting pains in my hip, limping a bit. The doctors were x-raying and poking about and they realised that my hip was not better. If they didn't sort it, I was going to get serious problems as an adult.
This time, they operated. They went straight in there, cut stuff open, broke some bones, put them back together, stuck pins in to hold their handywork in place and encased me in plaster yet again. I half loved it as it meant time off school. I didn't love the pain that came with sneezing, the itch I could never scratch just out of reach under the plaster or spending six weeks lying down. When they took the plaster off, I again had to learn how to walk but I was ten, I was pretty resilient. The hip was sorted and, apart from a lump which reminds me of the pins in there, we were back on the road to normality.
Four years ago, however, life got crazy again. I ate some chicken, felt ill, deduced it was food poisoning and went to see a doctor as it felt quite severe. Next minute, I'm in the hospital being told that I'm going into the operating theatre immediately. Between the mania of being able to self-medicate morphine in small doses via a button and not really understanding what had happened, it was a pretty surreal week, which accumulated in me taking strange photos of myself mid-nosebleed.
I have no excuses. I was not myself.
After battling with very low periods, over-ambitiousness to recover and the frustrations of having to sit around doing nothing for weeks, I finally got back on my two little feet. I also realised, with a bang, that I had had a condition called a transverse colon volvulus where my colon had twisted over on itself, threatening to rupture and thus become a serious threat to my life. It is so rare, the surgeon who operated didn't know what she was looking for and when she found it, had to invent a solution.
By age 28, my body had suffered a fair amount of internal assault. I bear two ten inch scars which remind of my battles, one lumpy hip, one thigh which feels slightly numb and distinctly weaker than the other and a fair amount of lumpiness and numbness around my abdomen.
Yet, I didn't really consider any of this when I began running. I was at a crux in my life where I was floating around, job-wise, and I imagine the running gave me something I could have control over. My body struggled and complained, of course it did, but eventually it accepted it's fate and played ball.
I've now been a runner for nine months and am training for a marathon but it wasn't until yesterday, chatting to a friend, that I realised what an unlikely journey this has been. I am now stronger, physically and mentally, than I've probably ever been. I'm more in tune with myself, more at peace with who I am and the scars I bear.