Finding your passions in tough places

By October 6, 2015Run

Post by: David Liggett.  

Back in 2003, I severely injured my left hand while performing my job. I did not know it at the time, but that incident would forever change me.

From this incident, I was told that it looked like my hand had exploded on the inside. I needed five reconstructive surgeries to even be able to use my hand at 40-50% grip strength and practically no movement. I had to re-learn how to use my hand all over again.

There are still multiple limitations that I face daily, considering I am left hand dominant. I began overusing my right hand after those surgeries and ended up injuring that hand at my job. I then had to have two reconstructive surgeries to repair my right hand. It has taken almost up to date to have full strength and mobility in my right hand.

After these surgeries, depression set in. I would wake up each morning and lay on the sofa until it was time to go to work at 3 p.m. This was my daily ritual for an entire year! Naturally, I gained weight. A lot of weight. I ballooned to 240 lbs and just did not care. I never told anybody about the issues and just continued as if nothing was wrong.

On June 1st, 2009, I finally decided I had enough of feeling sorry for myself. I decided it was time for a change. I drastically changed my diet and began to run every day. As I started to lose weight, I began to push the workouts hard. I started weight lifting and seriously running until I had lost 90 lbs in six months. I ran my first half marathon in October of 2010 in Hershey, Penn. I also ran my first sprint triathlon in early 2011.

In 2011, trouble set in again. I developed gall stones and in turn had to have my gall bladder removed. I next developed a heart condition known as Atrial Fibrillation and SVT. I was given medicine to slow my heart rate down, but I continued to push my workouts. I would not let my health problems drag me down again.

I had my first heart surgery in 2011. I had just lost a friend June of 2011 and had planned on running a 50K in his honor. Not even heart surgery could stop me. So, two weeks after my first heart surgery, I ran a 50K and completed it. I was now hooked on ultrarunning.

Unfortunately, my health problems continued to multiply. My first heart surgery was not successful. I then had to have a second heart surgery, but I also ran a 30K trail race three weeks after that surgery. I placed 3rd in my age group for that race.

After heart surgery #3, I again had the next year’s 50K race on my mind, so I ran that race two weeks after that surgery. I finally had my fourth surgery, and as of now, my last heart surgery in December of 2012. Prior to that last surgery, in July of 2012 I decided to run my first obstacle course race.

In 2013, I developed more complications. In November of 2013 I had a surgery in my right foot to remove arthritis within the big toe joint, and ultimately having a screw placed into the foot. I have been told that my left foot will eventually need the same operation, that both of my hips will need to be replaced, and that arthritis will eventually take over my body. I also get regular adjustments for back and rib (dislocation) issues, and even regular pain management injections within my lower back.

I would not let any of this slow me down. I finally ran my first actual road marathon in April of 2014. I ran and completed my second ever road marathon, the NYC Marathon, in November of 2014. During that event I not only got to meet my running idol, Dean Karnazes, and ran with him for five miles of that race! This would not have been possible without turning my health around.

You have to make the best of every second of life. I try to live my life to its fullest potential. When I see an opportunity to do something new or adventurous, I jump in without hesitation. Whether it is spontaneously joining the worlds largest pillow fight in Washington DC (which was so awesome), or running an ultramarathon, I’m game. I live each day to the fullest, sharing time with my wife, family and dogs. We go on excursions regularly to New York City, Washington DC, bicycling, hiking, running, you name it. I also train six days a week, through CrossFit and trail running.

We only get one life, and I plan on taking the full ride. Without changing my life around, I would have never been able to experience the things I have listed to date, and I certainly would not experience all of the awesome things to come!

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