Life is going to throw you curve balls, and make you adjust your stance in the batter’s box. Sometimes anything that can happen, will happen. We can let it destroy us, or we can readjust our plans and build upon it.
Trying to achieve a big feat takes courage, tenacity, strength and determination. In the case of the I’m 1in5 tour, it takes a healthy physical, emotional, and mentally fit body and mind. There have been unexpected setbacks. I trained for a long time to do this across Canada, and was very unfortunate when I hurt my knee, just 3 days in to the tour.
I didn’t see stopping the tour as an option, just as an opportunity to heal and get back on the road with the help of a fantastic physio staff at SunGod physio team in Delta, B.C.
After 2 weeks of intense therapy, I received my medical clearance to get back on the road and continue with the tour. Physically my knee felt ok to keep going, and I was very excited about continuing this dream made reality. After pulling in 15Km on my first day back on the road, I woke up after staying in Wal-Mart parking lot to keep our expenses to a minimum, Sunday morning I woke up with, what I thought was a stomach bug. I didn’t want to stop as I thought maybe rollerblading and walking some kilometers may help get my endorphins up and running. Little did I know I was in a lot more pain than I wanted to believe. I made it 7 kms and had to take a break.
I was sweating profusely and was beginning to get physically sick. I made it 6.5 more kilometers before I was just physically unable to keep going. Getting sick on the side of the highway. and not being able to replace the fluids i was losing, I was physically drained. Mentally I was exhausted and emotionally upset with myself. I was thinking in my head “how is this happening”, “why can I not feel better”
Monday I decided to take a rest day, and see if that would help ease my physical self as well as my mind. I still felt sick. Tuesday I woke up feeling even worse and decided to get to a doctor. For those who know me, going to the doctor is usually a last resort. I was disappointed and discouraged that I just physically wasn’t well enough to walk that day. My anxiety and depression had started to kick in. I felt like I was letting our donors down, letting our supporters down, but mostly I felt like I was letting myself down.
I told the doctor about my physical pains as well ast the emotional toll it was starting to take on me. He diagnosed me with a virus that was bronchitis and prescribed me medication and rest.
Wednesday morning I woke up in even more pain, and was beginning to get very concerned. Right away I went to the emergency room, and saw a doctor. My dream of walking this entire country had came collapsing in. After getting some blood work and tests complete, I was diagnosed with a bleeding ulcers and acid reflux that was causing some damage in my stomach. My doctor informed me that if I didn’t take the time out to let this heal, and ignored it, I would die on the side of the road.
4 years of planning came crashing down. The last thing I expected to hear was that I had to stop for right now. I was devastated, heart broken, and crushed. I called one of my greatest friends and I’m 1in5 family members, Edward, and told him. We both were in some shock and disbelief. We decided to talk in an hours time and regroup. It was devastating to call him. I then called my addiction and mental health counsellor and emotionally fell apart on the phone. I said “I have every reason to quit right now.” And she said “yes, but I know you and you won’t quit, you just have to adjust your sails with the wind”. I had to make a big decision to continue with the pain and run the risk of dying on the side of the road, or pause the tour and seek major medical attention.
It’s been a whirlwind of a week, and the supportting messages and encouragement have meant the world to me. Right now I can’t physically keep going. I’m going to be coming back to Ontario to get the proper medical attention that I require.
We will continue on. Covering the distance of a 9,700km journey requires a certain window of time before the weather becomes a problem With the medical issues I have suffered, we unfortunately have missed this window. A new plan is being made.
Tentatively, we are planning on moving this journey to the province of Ontario between July 1st - August 1st of this summer. Starting from the Terry Fox monument in Thunder Bay to the front steps of Parliament. If I cannot stick handle across Canada at the moment, then I will at least journey to this nation’s capital raising as much awareness as I can about mental health, sexual abuse and addiction.
Quitting is not an option. I have every reason to quit, but I’m not going to. The tour is not over and I’m 1in5 is still just getting started. This is something I have invested my whole being into this, I have full belief and faith this will happen. A sprained knee and a physical sickness is a long way from my heart and desire to create a world with out stigma, The end goal of I’m 1in5 is to create healing and recovery facility for all Canadians to gain Strength From Pain, and raise funds for organizations that support those affected by sexual victimization,mental illness and addiction.
I can’t say enough about all of the support and encouragement we have received. We’ve created amazing awareness. Although at the moment, I am discouraged, and disappointed. This will not drown me, but strengthen me.
Sometimes in life we have to look at the big picture for our own safety, and right now I would be doing an injustice to myself and all Canadians if I was to keep going with this sickness.
Thank you all for not giving up on this, and having the faith that we are the change, All of us, together.
Much Love, Paulie