I had gotten quite sick with HIV, but with a second chance at life through medications, I committed to changing my life to one of healthy habits and meaningful work.
I started working with a medical humanitarian organization to bring the same medications that saved my life, to people living with HIV in Malawi. I taught myself to swim, and aimed for an Ironman as the epitome of representing my transformation. I invested a lot of emotion in getting to that race. It represented a re-birth physically and to my identity.
A yet-to-be-diagnosed parasite infection in the days before the Ironman meant I couldn't consume liquids or calories during the race. I felt too sick, it wouldn't go down, I just gagged - I made it to about 90km on the bike on a very hot day before I had to lay down in the ditch, in the fetal position, in the shade of a road sign.
I knew I was too sick, too dehydrated, too over heated to finish, but I distinctly remember saying to myself 'you don't know until you try' and climbed back on my bike - I made it about a half mile down the road before blackness engulfed me.
In the ambulance when I regained coherent consciousness and realized my dream had died, I was crushed and I wept.
(A year later I returned and finished the Ironman. Not nearly as an intense emotional experience.)
Advocating for research & treatment for Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME). http://www.meaction.net/about/what-is-me/
"Suck it up, Buttercup"
(me, to myself, every day)