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Motivation and Rebuilding

2017- The New Year brings with it new goals set from the challenges and successes I have faced in the past year. None of the success would have been possible without the help I received from all of you. Taking what I learned from the awesome journey, I have more work to do in order to accomplish goals and achieve a healthier lifestyle, better quality of life, fitness level and competitive edge.

The challenges that I have and continue to face and manage, from the symptoms brought on by Systemic Lupus have been rough, but we all have challenges. The balancing act of several medication doses to manage and successfully continue to heal old injuries from the past sprouting pain I have thankfully kept at bay for a while. It has taken time and more importantly, patience. Which I have certainly developed more experience to prepare for and deal with and gives me the experience to mentor other athletes who may be challenged in similar ways. Building the mental toughness I need to cope with things has not been an easy path. I refuse to let my disease define me even though it has destroyed parts of my body with the help of injuries from serving.

The most recently challenge was my good foot which began turning blue and I started having increased pain and swelling which has not happened in 4 years since I started my infusions for Lupus. I had a battery of tests completed and the results showed that I had some damage in the arteries from my ankle down and the damage was perceived as moderate arterial vascular disease.

The issues I was having in my leg can be caused by Lupus and also by the medications I need to take for Addison disease (adrenal insufficiency). Of course what is going through my head after having months of leg pain and foot pain was that the blood- flow in my food was compromised. To make matters more difficult, It didn’t help that my doctor, who I'd developed a healthy and trustworthy relationship with and who I'd trusted for years was no longer at the practice. The studies were done and the new doctor wanted to intervene with bypass surgery.

Brandon does not roll like that folks, especially when a surgeon is all gung-ho/confident that the knife may be the ONLY cure and is ready to slice and dice. I had to go through more testing and contacted the doctor who performed my amputation. He is still the Chief of vascular surgery which I am truly grateful that he is still there. The great news was that he said I am good to go and no surgical intervention is needed. The doctors began checking every box and the issues are now believed to stem from my back. I have enlarged facets, herniated disc, and an annular fissure tare, L5-L4 that has worsened. Of course these types of injuries don’t just occur overnight. Now the fun begins because I am unable to get injections in my spine due to my blood clotting disorder. The doctors believe the risk far outweighs the reward which is not guaranteed. One of the conditions which some Lupus patients have is what called Lupus Related Antiphospholipid Syndrome. It basically means I clot too much and if I am not therapeutic or protected by medication that prevents clots, like blood thinners I can have catastrophic clotting. So, I have accepted that the spine is not the place I want to take that chance.

I hopefully will have more answers in the coming weeks and It may limit how much I can do in a training session, but I will always work towards figuring out a solution. If I need brake down training sessions to three a day to get the job done, than that’s the road I will travel.

We all have demons to face, mentally and physically and I am no different. My only choice that I have is to either let these things beat me or to take things as they come, adjust and move forward. All of us experience periods of gloom, fear, and uncertainty. But we each possess deep reserves of inner strength, Will Power and wisdom for dealing with such setbacks.

Some times when our inner strength is lacking, we have to remember we have support and that we are not beaten. Failing is part of the process to reach our goals or we lose our competitive edge and lose the mind game. Courage, Integrity, Resilience, Fearlessness and being Relentless should be in all of our vocabularies because these are things within us that WILL help us succeed.

My Will is being tested every day and I learn a little more each illness (105.6 fevers, fatigue, infections) injury or mental obstacle and how to navigate the crisis and accomplish my objective.

My 2017 goals are to organize and run Athletes with Disabilities Network Northeast 5k May 13th, Ruck 26 miles with Team RWB in March, compete at team trials May 21st, which would lead to World Championships and Canoe-Kayak Sprint Nationals, and ride with my Operation Rebound teammates in Team Foster 100 mile (century) bike ride which honors Captain Erick Foster and compete in a sprint triathlon which depends on US National team competition dates. (underlined words are linked to pages)

I’d like to use these events to raise money, which means rigorous physical training, rigorous mental training, organizing, managing and planning and more training. It gets costly and as I progress as a paddler I need to upgrade some equipment which is expensive, but in order to continue to stay at my best potential, while also becoming more competitive in my sport I need a new boat, trainers and help. Although I am comfortable with taking on my portion of this endeavor, it is by no means a solitary effort, just as it "takes a village" to raise a child" it takes a team effort to plan an finalize an athlete's effort in earning a spot on top of the podium, this team is integral to my success as an athlete. I cannot accomplish these tasks alone and as a first tier donor, you will receive a shirt made and designed for Team Brandon. Donations of $50 or more and you will earn a shirt, which will be mailed to you. The shirt design will be posted soon online.

If you wish to donate Click the flag

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