The Olympic Spirit

It’s that time again- the Winter Olympics! Four years ago, during the last Olympics, my older son and I were stuck in a hospital room watching the athletes compete in the wee hours of the morning after being admitted on Superbowl Sunday. While we have had a rough go on many of the Superbowl Sundays in between, the  Winter Olympics are making their first appearance since “the” big hospital admission of 2010 that changed all of our lives so dramatically, and the feeling is very, very different.

Although we still have a love of curling, developed during those seemingly endless, boring hours of our hospital stay, and our battle with JA is far from over, our situation is quite different for the games of 2014.

We are home (not in a hospital) and have dodged any inpatient admissions for a full year!

We are recording the Olympics to watch around our busy schedule (and to correspond with our awake hours, rather than Sochi’s!) as something that we want to do, rather than as a means to fill hours of empty time.

We are watching in waking hours, rather than in pockets throughout the middle of the night since my son’s pain levels are low enough that he can sleep through the night.

What a difference four years has made.

These are big, actually huge differences, but the biggest difference is that now my son really understands the Olympic spirit.

It is true that he is four years older and in his middle teen years now, and although that has something to do with it, the change is really due to his life with JA. Four years ago he didn’t know if he would need a new liver. Four years ago he wasn’t even thinking of playing sports again. Four years ago he could barely walk without assistance. It has been four years of heart wrenching struggles, pushing through pain, fighting the nausea of chemo treatments and grueling physical therapy sessions. It has been four years of hard work and perseverance, four precious childhood years sacrificed to hours upon hours of medical visits but four years dedicated to not giving up.

Not Giving Up.

Isn’t that the essence of the Olympic Spirit? My friend Lene Andersen at The Seated View and Health Central put it beautifully in a piece she wrote likening RA (rheumatoid arthritis) warriors with the athletes in the Bejing Olympics.:

In the quest for podiums and medals, in the hullabaloo surrounding the winners, we tend to forget about that Olympic spirit. We tend to forget that for the vast majority of the athletes who go to the Olympics, merely participating in the Games can be the crowning achievement of their career. That for them, it is not about medals, records and endorsement deals, but about years of lonely practice, of getting up every day and training hard, challenging themselves, of pursuing their personal best. They push through the pain, keep going, day in and day out, struggling with setbacks and injuries, return over and over again to the training that will maintain their strength and enable them to take part. For them it is not about finishing first, second or third, but solely about finishing the race.

It made me think about my own kids, who both have different forms of Juvenile Arthritis, and how they DO struggle, day in and day out, through setbacks and injuries, through everything this disease dishes out, but they are still managing to take part in the things they love. They are still setting their eyes on the prize, but happy just to take part in the sports that they love. Through this disease they are striving to be better, but they are embracing the Olympic spirit every day by embracing the grace that comes with the appreciation of just being able to be here, and to take part.

We watched the Olympic games differently this year. We cheered with lumpy throats for the Russian Anton Gafarov in the Men’s Sprint Free Semi-finals.

 

He took a horrible fall, and surely faced some injury in addition to breaking both one of his skis and one of his poles. But he didn’t quit. He got up and kept going, limping through the snow  until the Canadian coach came to help. After replacing his equipment, it was obvious that too much time had been lost, and he had no hope for a medal, but Gafarov didn’t stop. He finished the race with renewed vigor and perseverance, crossing the finish line full of Olympic spirit…proud to finish the race. In his own words:

“I could have waited the whole day for the ski,” he said. ”I saw many athletes who were literally crawling till the finish line without skis and without poles…It was a matter of principle to hold on to the end,”

This is the Olympic spirit, and this is what it is all about. I am truly blessed to see the Olympics through different eyes this year, and equally blessed to see the Olympic spirit live within my children every day.

 

 

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Comments:

  1. Beautifully written with heart and this is really inspiration. I remember my cyber friend. She is really persistent and brave and I really idolized her for being brave and positive all the time.
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  2. Very touching post! I’d actually never heard of juvenile arthritis before now. I think the Olympic spirit these athletes embody is something we all can learn from.
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  3. I remember reading about your Super Bowl Sunday dilemma…but it really does sound like your attitude is good. You sound thankful in your posts. It’s nice.

    It won’t let me see the video, but it does sound like a cool story. Those are the kinds of stories that make us love the Olympics even more. 🙂
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  4. Very touching post. I don’t watch the Olympics, especially Winter, typically. This kind of makes me want to, though.
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  5. Great post and video. I haven’t watched any of the Olympics yet but his post makes me want to.
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  6. Tall about an inspiration! I will truly remember this the next time I start feeling like giving up or saying the words ‘I can’t” because truly if we stick to it and never give up we can do anything.
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  7. Never give up! What a fabulous post. Thank you so much for sharing. #SITSBlogging love.

  8. Stopping by from #SITSBlogging. What a story with a great message of never giving up and persevering. Glad you’re finding the time to watch the Olympics!
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  9. I’ve loved watching the Olympics and I’m so glad that you and your son can watch them in a different setting this time around. Stopping by from The SITS Girls.
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  10. What a great story with a positive message. Yes, that is what the Olympics are about, and I’m glad you’re teaching your son to say strong and keep on keeping on and never give up.
    #SITSBlogging
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  11. A beautifully written post! Half the battle is showing up, and I think that this is a great message for everyone to read about. It’s not about the medals, but it’s about being there and knowing that hard work and practice got them that far. This is truly an insertional post!
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  12. Being Canadian this was a proud moment seeing the coach do this. The entire Olympics have been full of proud moments for all countries involved. Makes me teary 🙂
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  13. Its so intriguing, as a Mom, the things that come up “after” our big moments for our children. I love how you tied in the Olympics athlete with your son. Warmed my heart. Thank you! Hasn’t Comment Love been wonderful?

  14. This was a really lovely and honest post. Thank you for sharing.
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  15. Hi! Loved this article about the concept of NOT GIVING UP! Determination and perseverance are great traits to have over a lifetime! #SITSBLOG
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  16. What an inspiring way to look at it. You are right…we often don’t see how those athletes live day–in, day-out…and they never quit. Truly admirable! How wonderful that you are instilling that same quality in your kids. It is so absent in much of today’s culture- and so NEEDED!!!
    Thanks for sharing a very heart-warming story! 🙂 Stopping by from SITS comment love! 🙂
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  17. Lovely post. It’s not about winning and medals. It’s about showing up and training every day, just like living with JA and RA.

    Thanks so much for the shout-out!
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  18. This is so beautifully written and so very true. You have faced so many hurdles in the past four years and the Olympic games are a perfect way to not only measure your own milestones but to celebrate in life’s victories, whatever they may be.

    When I was much younger, I always anticipated the next Olympic games because I thought I would be so much older and wiser. I remember being 12 and thinking that 16 was some far off age where things magically HAPPENED. Good God, that was a hundred years ago. But anyway, I think now is the perfect time to reflect on all that your son has accomplished in this time and amazing that he’s home instead of in a hospital.

    XOXO and thanks for sharing that video. I hadn’t seen it yet and that was very touching.
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  19. What a beautiful and touching post.
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