Performance Enhancing Drug

The first thing I want to say is that chemical intervention in the human body can work like magic. The second thing I should say, or rather, finally, spit it out - Hhhhhhhhhhhhhhhcckk-PTOOO, there, much better - is this: I have a performance enhancing substance in my body.

I know, I know, you’ve probably seen me running or cycling and your first thought is, “Performance Enhancing Drugs? No harm no foul,” considering how below optimum my enhanced performance can be. I would have to use every PED known to the UCI in order to be even slightly competitive.

However, since about 2004 I haven’t taken a step, or run a stride, without thinking about my knees and how to extend them a few more miles. People ask me often, “Are you limping today?” and I always answer, “Yes,” knowing that limping has become my regular walk.

The diagnosis is osteoarthritis, a degenerative joint disease that leads to loss of cartilage, resulting in decreased movement. The main symptom is pain, causing loss of ability and often stiffness.

You might suspect the cause for my condition to be all the miles I’ve run since 1978, but according to current scientific research, you would be wrong. Running has not been found to increase one's risk of developing osteoarthritis. In fact, regular exercise delays onset of symptoms and extends the life of the joint. As in, use it or lose it.

So back to my opening confession: last Friday I got a Synvisc injection in each knee. It’s an artificial substance (made from rooster combs) which acts like a lubricant and a shock absorber in the joint. In the short term, it relieves pain and restores movement. In the long term, it delays knee replacement.

My only complaint about Synvisc is that the FDA only allows injections once every six months. I would install a portal in my knee for continuous feed if I could get by with it. Like a grease zerk.

There is no use whining about my running career cut short by disability. I was never competitive. For me, it has always been about meditating on my feet. Still, I had dreams to go further more often.

Just this week I read from Donald Miller’s Storyline blog:

It’s an aching truth we are not guaranteed our dreams will become a reality.

Dreaming is one of the things that make us human. We imagine a better future and then design a plan to make it happen. For me, I wish I had worked this particular dream a little harder back before 2004.

Donald Miller continued:

I believe a human being has more than an ability to dream. We have a responsibility to dream. And when our dreams don’t become a reality, we must realize our dreams have power all the same. They can motivate those around us. Our dreams can inspire generations who will keep the work going. We must understand the realization of the dream is not so much the gift as the dream itself.

And so, with the help of a performance enhancing drug, or maybe I should call it a dream enhancing drug, I am back to running longer and cycling further. It isn’t a huge change, more of an incremental improvement, but it still counts.

How about you? Do you have dreams still waiting for action? What enhances your performance?

“I run in the path of Your commands, for You have set my heart free.” Psalm 119:32


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