Tuesday, May 11, 2010


(Photos: Top - Bonnie & Mike after the successful proposal. Below - The Proposal.)

"The Beneficiaries you have selected are as follows:..."

By Bonnie Siegel

Drawing in a slow breath, I surveyed the first page of the document. Pausing, I leaned back, closed my eyes and listened momentarily to the home office chair groan at the redistribution of my weight. Rain tapped on the window as the storm's thunderous voice announced the direction it intended to take. A large luminous clock hung from my home office wall, lapping up time as it ticked away.

Four years prior I had sat across the table from the V.P. at the Symetra office in Redmond, Washington talking with him about joining forces to increase sales and broaden customer base for those in need of life insurance policies. Now I sat with a personal term life insurance policy that hung heavily in my hands, making sure that all of the 't''s were crossed and the 'i's dotted. I coughed and carefully swallowed the blood that emerged from my lungs, rolling it around with my tongue, feeling it for volume and consistency.

With consistent training under my belt the previous week I had finally started feeling like my training was getting somewhere. Mike and I were on our way to doing our first Ironman. We laughed and joked about racing with chocolate and other temptuous treats in our backpacks, enjoying the journey as much as the destination. I felt good.

The ER doctor had tried to explain the results of my CT scan without too much doom and gloom. I tried to cheer her up with a few humorous comments to loosen up the air in the room. My first Ironman would have to be postponed she concluded. The pneumonia was far too severe. She handed me the print out and pointed to the description of what appeared to be a mass, indicating that it measured about 1/3 the size of the infection above it.

I looked her in the eyes and said with all confidence that I wasn't giving up just yet. After all, I hate biking and if I could force myself to bike for hours upon end, anything was possible. I pointed to the place my tiny Ironman tattoo would go after I crossed the finish line and smiled.

One of the most challenging aspects of my current situation is the inability to train. I have had set backs before that include the general array of injuries people who have a passion for training and exercising endure. This time the wait would be longer and there was no clear-cut end in sight. In five weeks I would go in for another CT scan and if there was any infection remaining, we would start the five weeks process over again. If there were indeed a mass, a whole new course of action would be taken.

So what do you do besides twiddle your thumbs and try not to drive your friends crazy by calling, texting, and emailing them when you have too much time on your hands? Alas, I have relinquished to such hazards as gardening, learning a game on my cell phone, writing terrifying posts and baking Marie Calendar pies. Thankfully my life is delightfully balanced with playtime with my kids, coaching Lacrosse and trying to learn a martial art in my basement. My coach is working diligently on my comeback training, my sponsors are tying up a few loose ends and I am avoiding the mirror and its distorted reflection of my forever-young body.

In just a few more weeks I will know which direction I am going. It's hard not to be anxious. I want to know right now and get on with things but this is a valley that must be walked through and a desert that must be crossed. From every fervent endeavor I embrace challenges arise and from every challenge I find growth can be cultivated within. This time is no exception.