Formerly "Neil Stone Updates"

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Making Your Way

In preparation for an upcoming race.  Neil and I recently discussed our differing training strategies.  Neil prefers to imagine he's going to run 10 miles, when actually, he knows he's only going to run 4 to 6.  That way, he ends up feeling like the run is shorter and easier than he planned.

That doesn't work for me.  I have to keep myself motivated throughout my run by focusing on what's immediately in front of me--small goals.  Because my longest distance so far is just over three miles, I tell myself I'm only going to run one mile and when I reach that point, I'm allowed to walk the rest of my route.  I've found that gets me through the "knees aching" part that hits just before the half mile mark, and carries me to when my second wind hits.

When the police told us to drive carefully to Morristown as we left the house for the hospital to find Neil, all I let myself think about was where we were going to find an open gas station for our empty car at midnight.  Too hard to think about the unknown and the possibilities we would find when we reached the emergency room.  Just think about which exit off of 287 will take us to the station at exit 33 on 78 which will surely be open.  It was.    

So at one mile, I usually feel like I can keep running.  "Fine" I say to myself, "then go another half mile".  One and a half miles on my route happens to hit in the middle of a hill.  I know this.  I know it's going to be hard, but I push for it.  When I reach that spot I can see the top of the hill.  That motivates me to at least get to the summit.  Yes, there will be more hills to come, but this one I'm looking at right now is the only one that concerns me.

When we finally reached the Morristown Medical Center parking lot, we received a call from a nurse wondering where we were.  "Right here!"  I said, and hung up as we ran inside.  But Neil wasn't there.  There'd been no helicopter arrivals that night.  Now the task in front of us was to locate the correct hospital.  The Morristown receptionist verified that the prefix from which the call came was Robert Wood Johnson Hospital which was 30 miles in the opposite direction.  As we jumped back in the car, I tried to call back again and again, but no one answered.  I called a number the police had given us if we needed help.  They finally helped us connect with someone who told us it was bad, but not much else.  Little help when you're a long way from where you want to be.  At this point Scott called his dear friend Stan to meet us at the hospital to help administer a Priesthood Blessing.  It comforted us to know that we would not be alone.   

 From the top of the hill, the two-mile mark is not far.  Very doable.  After two, there's a bit of a respite as the road takes a slight decline and there are plenty of shade trees.  But just before three miles, a steep hill rises up in the path.  It's a stinker.  Really hard, but how can I come this far and not keep going?  I know I can do it.  I'm almost there.  I huff and puff my way up.  Yes, I'm very slow, but that hill is mine.  There follow a few more downs and ups, and then I'm home.  Success!  Now to rest up for tomorrow's run.

  When we finally arrived, the doctor wanted to prep us first, before we were brought in to see Neil.  Prognosis was bad, he said (why did they keep using that word?), but there was some hope.  Our journey had taken so long that he was already in the ICU when we saw him--intubated, attached to countless wires and tubes, and deeply comatose.  He was bruised and cut on his face, and the swelling had already started.  I still find it hard to talk about what it felt like at the moment we saw him...So much love, so much sorrow.  Hurt beyond belief.  Ache and grief.  We sobbed until there were no more tears.  And then we cried some more.  But we were finally there by his side.  There was some relief in that.  We were where we needed to be.  
Many days and nights of pain and trials lay ahead of us still, but there were prayers and blessings.  There were friends and family.  There were support, caring, and hope.  And there still are.
Neil ran his 10k on the 4th of July in 56 minutes.  Apparently his strategy worked for him.  He tends to reach for the stars, that boy.  He was positively glowing.  What a long way he's come.  What a long way he wants to go.

My out-of-shape middle-aged body ran the 5k in 35 minutes.  Not bad, I say.  Time to train for some more races.


Anonymous said...

Lori, I love this post on so many levels. You are an excellent writer. I took me right back to that terrible night and I was right there with you. Neil has come so very far since then, and so have you and Scott, and in a way, so have each one of us who love Neil.
Love, Michelle (sis)

Lori said...

Michelle, Thank you so much. Your wonderful phone calls were so uplifting and helpful during those awful days. And you know, you are my running role model :-) Love you!

Tanya said...

I have never met your family though I heard of Neil's accident through my mom Maryann who worked for Scott for many years. I read all the updates you posted along the way and monitored Neil's progress as if he were a close friend. As a mother I felt your pain but also felt your strong faith come through in each entry. I live only a few blocks away from you and have seen Neil running on the street. Several times I have wanted to stop and congratulate him on his progress and determination but thought it would be intrusive. Your blog is a source of strength and shows how the power of family and faith can move mountains. In Neil's case he has been given the strength to climb them too. You have given Neil "back" the gift of life. I will continue to read your updates which lift me up whenever I read them. Within this blog you have created a literary gift.

Jenni said...

Reading this brought me back to the first few days of Neil's ordeal. What emotion for all of us as we ached for Neil's physical trials and your emotional ones.
It's been amazing for us to witness (though, most of the time, from afar) these leaps and bounds you chronicle.
It was so fun to run this race with you guys. Neil is in fantastic shape! And you beat me! However, I use the excuse of running with my 7 year old.
Michelle, you are an example to all of us with your running skills:)
Love to you all,
Jen (sis)

Lori said...

Tanya, we knew that Maryann and her family were keeping us in their prayers. It meant so much to us. Thank you for your kind comments and for still caring. Feel free to give Neil encouragement when you see him. He loves to be recognized. It gives him a boost :-)

Jen, I watched you at the finish line letting Max run ahead of you. It made my heart melt. He was grinning ear to ear and so proud of himself! Love you, Sis!

my rebel took over said...

Lori, this is so beautifully written. Just beautiful. Thank you for sharing.

Trinyan Mariano said...

Thanks for sharing this beautifully written story.