5k A Day in 2014… Changed My Life

17 oct 2014 by Tim Nguyen Two Days before my first half marathon and 4 months from when I started running.

May 20, 2014, something happened that changed my life forever. I had been experiencing bright spots for a few weeks and loss of vision in my left eye. I didn’t think much of it as there was no pain involved and I had booked an eye appointment a week down the road.

It was my Mums 60th birthday party and I had been carelessly showing everyone my party trick where if I covered my right eye and you stood a little to my right, my left eye would not be able to see you at all. As if someone had dropped a black curtain to that part of my peripheral vision. I had been showing this to people for weeks, commenting on how annoying it was but I was going to get it looked at soon.

Then I showed my father. Being a family doctor he would appreciate the medical oddities I had to share. My dad, raising me to be a tough cookie, always tells me to walk things off and never makes a big deal out of things.

So, there I was showing my Dad my limited vision and I’ll never forget the look on his face. His eyes darkened and he became very serious. He said I needed to book an appointment ASAP. I told him not to worry and that I was scheduled in a few days.

Then he says. No I think you need to go to Emergency right now. Right then and there he called an optometrist friend and within the next hour I was being examined.

Her voice was calm and friendly throughout the examination and at the very end she says in an eerily neutral and calculated way “I don’t want you to worry but make sure you don’t eat anything. In case you go into surgery.” With extra emphasis on “in case…” She then referred me to a specialist and a few hours later I was being examined again and I was rushed into surgery the following day.

My left retina was detached almost to the point of blindness. It was nearly past the macula which is kind of where all the important things meet up in your eyeball, and had it torn past I would have been blind.

Image of how far my retina had detached, almost past the macula. Blindness would have occurred had it tore past.

The surgery and recovery led to a series of life changing decisions. I was required to lay down for 24/7 on my right side and was only allowed to get up to eat and go to washroom. The first two days post surgery was the most pain I had ever felt. Imagine a migraine mixed with a severe wound in your eyeball. I spent nearly 3 weeks in the position.

During this time I lost a lot of muscle mass and gained rapid weight for the first time in my life. When I was allowed to get back to normal activities I was barely able to do a single push-up afterwards. These events led me to promising myself that when I was able to get up again I would start running (because it was something I always hated and I wanted to not hate it anymore and felt as though I took mobility forgranted). And run I did.

Now it does not seem like much for most people but I was never a runner. Mixed with bad knees and bad back, it just wasn’t my thing. At a crosswalk I would rather wait for a full cycle of lights to change than run for a flashing hand when crossing the street.

Fast forward to a month after the surgery. This was what I achieved:

Then 2 months after that post, on Oct 19, 2014 I ran the MEC Half Marathon in Calgary, non- stop. This achievement has been a pivotal moment in my life that showed me I could endure anything.

Fast forward again to now. I’m one month from ACL surgery, an injury that occurred May 1, 2016. When life pops your knee make lemonade. I was supposed to get surgery that summer but they lost track of my file and before you knew it, I was pregnant.

I gave birth to my Little Human, May 27, 2018. (What the F*ck is with all these May health related things ???)

I haven’t run very much since that Half Marathon and I’m afraid again. Pregnancy made my hips and knees even weaker and now I’m about to go through one of the most invasive medical procedures of my life. (So far.)

And so what do I do? I run. I’m slower than I was 4 years ago, but I have myself to inspire me. (It also helps that I’ve been watching The Flash on Netflix and he’s one of my favourite superheroes- well Wally West in the comics at but the show makes Barry Allen pretty awesome.) Either way, I wanted to mark this moment. The beginning of a another journey. I have one month to get my legs in shape for the knife. Yay.

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