Lee Martin, Unplugged

It’s a glorious Indian Summer day here in Columbus, Ohio, and I’m giving thanks for the twenty minutes of running that I did this morning in the midst of my forty-minute walk. As many of you know, I’m a month into recovery from a stroke. To catch you up to speed in case you didn’t know that, I spent two days in the hospital and, fortunately, left with no impairments. An echo-cardiogram showed what may be a hole between the atria of my heart, a patent foreman ovale, the hole we all have in the womb which closes at birth—at least, it’s supposed to. For roughly twenty-five to thirty-three percent of the population, it doesn’t, and most of us are never aware of that fact, unless, as the doctors suspect is the case for me, a clot travels through that hole and into the brain.

My cardiologist wanted me to wear a heart monitor for twenty-one days to make sure I had no arrhythmia. I finished the test yesterday and will now wait to hear about the next step in this journey.

This morning was my first steps running without electrodes stuck to my chest, a sensor worn on a cord around my neck, and the heart monitor, which was the size of an older cell phone, in my pocket. For the first time in a little over three weeks, I was unplugged.

Before the stroke, I ran for an hour every other day. Now, I’m slowly working my way back toward that goal. In the long stretch of years when I was able to run without thought of my health, I sometimes forgot to give thanks for the sheer joy of each step. I grumbled over my balky joints, my sore feet, my tight calf muscles. I rushed to fit in a run so I could get to what lay ahead of me that day. I forgot the blessing of what running was to me.

So it is sometimes for the writer. I’ll admit I’ve wasted energy and time moaning over my own work when it’s not going well. Likewise, for the minutes I’ve spent envying other writers’ successes or feeling overly pleased with my own. The challenge of the work, the fact that someone’s acclaim eclipses our own, the smug pride we take in what we accomplish? They’re obstacles to the rich blessing that our work offers us. What a privilege it is to be able to face the page for however many minutes we can manage each day. Twenty minutes? Thirty minutes? An hour or more? Celebrate that time. Give thanks that you have the chance to do the thing you love. Do it for a lifetime. Treat it well, this gift, so it will return to you, knowing you embrace it with all your spirit and heart.


  1. Ruth Ann on October 23, 2012 at 1:26 pm

    Amen!! Lee~~In the midst of my troubles when I can return to work for an hr or an afternoon I find such solace there; in my world where I know all the answers and feel
    “at home.”
    God bless you Lee.

    • Lee Martin on October 24, 2012 at 10:04 am

      That’s it exactly, Ruth Ann. For me, it’s a spiritual experience.

  2. Megan Kerns on October 23, 2012 at 1:37 pm

    Thank you, Lee, for the beautiful reminder to stay present and thankful. 🙂

    • Lee Martin on October 24, 2012 at 10:02 am

      Hi, Megan.I appreciate your taking the time to leave a comment on my blog. I hope all is good with you.

  3. Julia Munroe Martin on October 23, 2012 at 1:51 pm

    I’m so sorry to hear of your health issues, but I’m very glad you’re okay! (I’ve been online less recently so I had no idea you’d had the stroke). Thank you for the reminder that not only is our writing a gift but so is the enjoyment of being free to move unplugged. I’ve had a couple of brushes myself over the years and each time I think I’ll never forget… but often I do need a reminder, so thank you. And here’s to your continued good health. Take care!

    • Lee Martin on October 24, 2012 at 10:05 am

      Hi, Julia. Yes, like you, I think I’ll never forget, but I know I will from time to time. I guess that means we’re human 🙂 Thanks for your good wishes.

  4. Barbie Perkins-Cooper on October 23, 2012 at 1:54 pm

    A dear friend of mine, Brenda McClain, recommended your site. Now, after reading it, I see why. You write so eloquently, rich with emotions and feelings. I am so happy to hear that you are recovered from your stroke. We, your readers, are so blessed for the gift you share. May God bless you!

    • Lee Martin on October 24, 2012 at 10:01 am

      Any friend of Bren’s is a friend of mine. Thank you for your kind words, Barbie. I hope you’ll stop by the blog again sometime. I appreciate your taking the time to leave a comment. Blessings.

  5. Susan Cushman on October 23, 2012 at 1:59 pm

    Great to see you up and running again! Did I tell you I also have a PFO? Discovered during a cardio checkup before foot surgery (yes) a few years ago. My husband is a physician and he recently shared this article with me, but isn’t recommending I have surgery. Just have to keep an eye out for symptoms. Oh, and I take a low-dose aspirin and stop to walk around on road trips now. Here’s the article: http://www.medpagetoday.com/MeetingCoverage/TCT/35394

    • Lee Martin on October 24, 2012 at 10:07 am

      Yes, Susan, I remember you telling me that story. Thanks so much for the article. I guess we’ll know the results of that second study soon.

  6. Maureen on October 23, 2012 at 2:19 pm

    So pleased to know you’re running with the wind. Wishing continued improving health.

    • Lee Martin on October 24, 2012 at 10:07 am

      Thanks for the good wishes, Maureen.

  7. Eileen LaCanne on October 23, 2012 at 2:27 pm

    Glad that you are doing well. I am presently reading “From Our House” and continue to be amazed at your writing ability. I have always thought I wanted to write a book and I think everyone has a story to tell. However, we all don’t have the talent that you show in the books I’ve read so far: “Quakertown”, “The Bright Forever” and “Break the Skin.” Three books that I totally enjoyed. I’m glad that you appreciate your talent and look forward to more books from you.

    • Lee Martin on October 24, 2012 at 9:59 am

      Thank you for your kind words, Eileen. I very much appreciate your comment.

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