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Putting things into perspective

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This is for Jonathan Pitre.

The past couple of months have been a little tough. Too much of this, too little of that. Getting up early, working long hours, not getting through my to-do-lists, not making any money, having put on weight, “just checking one more thing” on the iPhone ending up turning off the lights WAY too late at night and last but not least, my children have turned into wild monkeys. Let me correct that, they’ve turned into wild, DEAF monkeys.

Last week-end they went to see their father. I got up when the neighbor’s dog started barking, at least two hours before I intended to wake up. As I grumpily waited for my tea to boil, I checked Facebook (yes, I’m addicted and can’t stop myself. What else do you do when you wait for water to boil anyway?!). To be honest, I think I felt a little sorry for myself as I stood there, thinking that life hadn’t turned out quite like I thought it would. At all. Then my eyes caught a phrase of a post about a mom and her son. I clicked on the link, read the article and watched the YouTube clip.

It’s about a fourteen-year-old boy called Jonathan Pitre. He suffers from a rare genetic skin condition called Epidermolysis Bullosa (EB). Jonathan is called the “Butterfly Child”. His skin is as fragile as a butterfly’s wings. At the slightest friction, his skin breaks and he has open, bleeding wounds over his whole body. Every second day, his mother has to help him into a bath and wait until his full-body bandages are completely soaked, before they start peeling them off carefully. This is excruciatingly painful for Jonathan and the pain never stops, he can feel it even in his sleep. The bath and putting on new bandages afterwards takes up to three hours.

The clip is 12 minutes long and I basically cried through the whole thing. At three occasions I had to stop to pull myself together.

My first breakdown was when Jonathan says that he used to dream of a pain-free life. He loves ice-hockey and says he would be the fittest person on earth and never stop working out, if he could. He loves it, but he just can’t do physical activities, because the aftermath is too painful.

The second time I broke down was when his mother talks about the bath procedure and putting the bandages back on. She says “Jonathan has begged me to stop, but I can’t”. I can’t imagine how horrible it must be for her. Seeing her child in this wounded body, having to put him through more pain when changing his bandages to keep the wounds clean. Over and over again.

The last and maybe worst moment was when the journalist asks Jonathan if he thinks about the future. Persons with EB rarely live past the age of 30. Just thinking that this child is fully aware of his condition and what the future holds – and still has the courage to say “you never know, I might live to be a hundred”, he is such a brave person.

All my troubles and worries instantly disappeared and the extra kilos couldn’t bring me down anymore. I had a moment of shame for having felt sorry for myself. Then I felt so grateful for my life and my health that I had to say it out loud. Thank you, thank you, thank you… My life is absolutely awesome, especially when you put things into perspective. And those extra kilos, they’ll turn into sweat, starting today.

In the afternoon that same day, my Personal Trainer came for a scheduled workout. His work-outs are so hard, and I ALWAYS have these wimpy negative prep-phrases (hoping he’ll make it a little easier), like “are you sure I should use the heavy kettlebell” and “I have a little headache, so take it easy” or “tomorrow I’ll get my period, just so you know”. I’ll never do that again. I don’t know why I did it. Yes, I do. It’s the fear of stepping out of my comfort zone and it’s so very uncomfortable to go where my PT takes me.

After just one set, my heart is beating like a jungle drum, I’m sweating like the Niagara Falls are just above my head, my face is not red but purple, my legs shake like crazy, my head spins and I’ve been really close to throwing up at several occasions. But this day was different. My mind had NO FEAR what so ever of getting out of my comfort zone. I felt like a Gladiator, ready for battle.

I did every exercise, the full time, with the heavy kettlebell, as many repetitions as I was told to do. For Jonathan. Because I can.

Thinking of Jonathan; knowing what his life is like and having heard about his dreams, it is no longer possible for me to do it any other way than ALL THE WAY. Not just this work-out. But the next. And the next. And all other work-outs after that. I will do it for Jonathan. And for me. Every time. Because I can. I’ll go NIKE on it!

The 30 minute HIIT (high intensity interval training) in my garden was HARD. Even so, my inner voice didn’t complain or whine a single time. It was silent. Focused -on giving my all. For Jonathan. Because I can.

When I finished my last squat and my PT said “fini” (finished) I could hardly stand. I put my hands on my knees and looked across the grass. A beautiful butterfly flew up just in front of me and danced in the air. I fell to the ground and cried my heart out. I had given my all, thinking of Jonathan every second, to honor his wish to be the fittest person on earth and never stop. The butterfly felt like proof that Jonathan could somehow feel the energy I gave for him.

Jonathan, I promise you this; for as long as I can, I will always work-out and appreciate my strong body and my health, for you. Because I can.

When I wake up in the morning, I tell myself “be ALL you can be”! With Jonathan in my heart, this now feels even more important. I hope you read this Jonathan! You have given me so much more strength and reminded me how important it is to appreciate great health!

Thank you Jonathan, for helping me put things into perspective! #jonathanpitre

Act to exceed!

Annica C. Törneryd

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