Running for Life
by Stephanie Miller
I am almost done with my run, so I push myself even harder. My shoes, once spotless, are now covered with the dust that I kick up with each stride. The trees that are lining the walkway are cheering me on. The wind is pushing against me, trying to slow my pace. But, I force my body to keep pushing, trying to beat my own personal record. I am constantly at war with myself, trying to beat my previous times.
I have two laps to go. I put my head down and focus on the paved path in front of me.
All I hear is the pounding of my footsteps, and my labored breath. My lungs are screaming for oxygen. The air from my labored breathing rushes through my nose, and past my windpipe. The cold air travels through the bronchi, and follows the narrowing tubes, until it reaches the end, where the alveoli wait. The oxygen fills the alveoli until it blows up like a balloon, and then it is transported into the blood. It provides me with all the oxygen I need to keep my body going.
Now, I am on my final lap through the park.
The oxygen fuels my body so I can push myself to run faster. I pick up the pace. My strides get longer and my legs move faster. I look around and see others doing the same. They are racing each other, without even knowing it. Some people are faster than others. They do this every day. They are constantly trying to push themselves to new limits. Others are new to this, and have hopes of becoming a better version of themselves. Conditioning their body to become healthier and stronger.
There is only half a lap to go.
My lungs want to give up, but they can’t. I will not let them give up on me now. But do you ever have a choice? Did my father have a choice lying in the hospital bed, struggling to breathe? His heart became too large, after years of neglect, and the doctors said it was failing. The nurse explained how his heart couldn’t pump his blood like it used to, and fluid was accumulating in his lungs. One handed me their stethoscope and let me listen. I placed it on my father’s chest, and listened to the loud popping noises of fluid in his lungs. I couldn’t believe I could hear it, and I didn’t want to give the stethoscope back. I fell in love with that stethoscope, and realized that I wanted to have one of my own. I wanted to be a nurse like them. Then, hopefully one day, I would be able to save a life, like they saved my father’s.
Only a few meters left, and I am in a full sprint. My lungs are protesting with every breath.
Like the others, I have to condition my body to make it healthier and stronger. I take it one mile at a time, concentrating on every mile. Focusing on every breath, while it takes its journey through the narrowing bronchi within the lungs, to the microscopic capillaries surrounding the alveoli. Allowing oxygen to be transported into the blood, traveling throughout arteries, to all of my organs, permitting it to continue functioning at its best potential. I know that pushing myself now will save me one day.
If I make my body strong, then maybe one day it will not fail on me. If it does not fail on me, then maybe I can save a life.