Farewell to the Triathlon Community Angela Durazo
“To laugh often and much; To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; To earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; To appreciate beauty, to find the best in others; To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
This quote could be my anthem. Success for me is not material but the way a person is able to impact other lives in a positive way.
Since 2010, I have been dedicated to an endurance sport – Triathlon. Prior to this time, in 2006, severe health difficulties had me spending time in the hospital where several nights I feared that if I allowed myself to sleep, would I actually wake up the next morning? I felt a loss of control –over my body and over my mind.
I came out of that hospitalization determined to achieve something substantial. I was attracted to Triathlon because of how much the sport tests one’s endurance and mental strength. In hindsight, I guess I was trying to teach my body that I was the boss. I needed to feel that I was the boss. Because when I was in hospital I felt the exact opposite.
Triathlon was exhilarating. Those Triathletes reading this will be smiling because they know what I’m talking about. It was like nothing else I’d experienced and I was happy. Alive. Achieving. I was the boss. I believed I’d found what I was meant to do.
The diagnosis of Rheumatoid Arthritis was a crippling blow to my euphoria. Seemingly overnight, I went from a confident athlete and entrepreneur to someone unable to care for herself. Some days, I was unable to dress myself. Traditional treatment failed me and after realizing doctors didn’t have all the answers, I did what I always do in times of trouble. I took control. I changed my diet, desensitized myself to chronic pain, and learned how to function despite the chronic fatigue; I asked questions and I searched for answers. I made myself available to a medical community of specialists and happily volunteered myself to participate in their research because they’d seen no prior cases to reference on a Triathlete RA patient.
The day after my diagnosis, I decided to go public with my condition and start this blog with the hopes of positively impacting the lives of others, and sharing my journey– but more importantly, sharing the lessons and the disease management insight that I discovered along the way.
Life delivers blows to all of us in different manifestations. The philosopher Nietzsche said, “That which does not kill us makes us stronger.” I have grown enormously from the experience of Triathlon and am still growing and learning to live a full life despite having RA. I have also trained myself to render the doubters of my diagnosis irrelevant. To the doubters I say, you are entitled to your opinions, but you will never experience my truth.
My truth is that although I’ve learned how to maintain racing despite the chronic pain and chronic fatigue, I cannot physically continue to put my body through this exhaustion. My condition has deteriorated due to a demanding training and competition schedule. If I don’t give my body a chance to heal, I risk developing irreversible damage.
After extensive thought and discussions with my physician, family and those closest to me, I am formally announcing my permanent withdrawal from Triathlon. This has been one of the most difficult decisions I have had to make.
I am very proud of my 5 years in Triathlon. I appreciate the experiences, the traveling and the spirit of the sport. I appreciate what Triathlon taught me – discipline, personal accountability, and responsibility. I will forever remain grateful for the opportunity to have represented the Rheumatoid Arthritis community in the sport. I thank, from the bottom of my heart, those RA warriors on the ground who have supported me through the years. You all kept me in the sport much longer than I could have managed without you.
I’m still on a journey of healing. I am managing my condition in the best way possible with the best medical team available. I will be kind to my body for the first time in five years and I hope it responds with joy.
I have not and I will not give up my fight with RA. I still work out 5 days a week, just not at a competitive training level. I haven’t and I will not lose hope that one day I will fully recover; one day, Rheumatoid Arthritis will have a cure.
I cherish my memories in the sport. I cherish my continuing involvement in the RA community and the many friends and followers I have there. I haven’t given up – quite the opposite.
To those in Triathlon who would call themselves my supporters, to other Rheumatoid Arthritis sufferers, to my friends, I pass on these words,
“Yesterday no longer exists so cannot be changed. Tomorrow does not yet exist but can be made into whatever you focus on and bring to it.”