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Archive for April, 2014

A mere month ago I underwent a percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty also referred to as a percutaneous coronary intervention.  Before I could return to running I had to get the all-clear from my cardiologist which included having some tests.  I had one left to complete and after having to cancel and reschedule this cardiology appointment a few times, I finally underwent the myocardial perfusion on Friday morning.

What is myocardial perfusion? Well, it is a test to check blood flow in and out of the heart. They use a nuclear isotope called Cardiolite as a tracer which is injected through an IV in the arm and a gamma camera takes photos. To make a long story short, I had two of these photography sessions. One was prior to exercising and the other after running at a good incline on a treadmill. I believe I was at 18% incline when I asked to have the test stopped. Don’t be alarmed, it wasn’t my heart but my lungs. I’m recovering from what feels like bronchitis. I was almost 11 minutes in when the coughing reared its’ ugly head. The whole process took about 4 hours or so.

At the end of the day I decided to call for results. What can I say? I’m not a very patient person when it comes to this. The cardiologist, Dr. J., had the images but didn’t have time to look at them. I really didn’t expect that he would and the kind lady told me to call back Monday morning. I was naughty and I went for a little 1K run on Saturday before getting the all-clear from Dr. J. I knew from past experience that everything was okay and I took it easy because this cough still lingers. I made sure that someone was close by. I threw myself into other things so that I would stop thinking of the “what ifs”. In the back of my mind I kept thinking that the coughing somehow affected the treadmill portion of the test.

Monday came and I called. A different lady answered my call and said it would be 7 to 14 business days!!

What?!?!? My heart sank.

Dr. J. had promised that he’d have an answer for me within a day or two of the test and that I’d be running before the end of the month. She said she would send him an email. I politely thanked her and then waited until late in the day to call back.

When I called back this time I was talking with the lady I usually do. She opened my file and said that there was a note on it giving me the go ahead to train for the first full marathon but to really listen to my body. He also left a note that he doesn’t want to see me again until October. The test was a success despite my hacking session!

I can run again!

The first word that comes to mind is gratitude.

I am grateful for my children and my husband. Their unconditional love means the world to me.

I am grateful to be here for my children and that they can have a Mom who is active and vibrant.

I am grateful that I can run again and that my choices over the past decade have made that a reality.

I am grateful for all the people in my life and that I made a courageous choice to only surround myself with people who lift my spirit. The support I received through all of this shows that I have made the right decisions there. The visits, phone calls, emails, and messages kept me moving forward even on the days when I couldn’t see that a positive outcome was possible.

Now I guess it is time to look at training plans. My first full marathon is a mere 25 weeks away and I have a tough summer of training ahead of me. Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon… here I come!!

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I’ve been under the weather with a nasty cold-flu-like bug for a week so this is a bit late in coming.  Here is what has been going on with my heart…

My Healthy Heart

Friday April 11th finally arrived. A mere two weeks after my heart procedure I sat in the office of the cardiology lab anxiously awaiting a consult with my cardiologist. While I had tests and had been in the hospital, Dr. J. and I actually hadn’t seen each other since August. There was a lump in my throat and I was feeling very stressed about the whole thing, yet I desperately wanted answers. I reminded myself that I could handle any news, good or bad, and took a deep breath.

The nurse came out and escorted me to the back so that she could check my vitals, weight, abdominal measurement, and run an EKG. Shortly after, I went to the consult room and Dr. J. joined me. He asked me how I felt about my family genetics catching up with me. I half-joked and said, “I wish I could punch my family genetics in the nose!”

A tear rolled down my cheek and I braced myself for the worst.  Dr. J. looked at me and said. “Your heart is strong and healthy. The two overlapping stents you’ve got are not going to be an issue. Given the condition of your heart from the running and cycling you could have ten stents and it would still be better than a single stent in a damaged heart. The valve issues are mild at this point and nothing should deter you from being active. In fact, I’d would like to have you back to running by the end of the month but first I’d like to do a myocardial perfusion so we know where you are at with blood flow. Oh and you can take that nitroglycerin patch off. You don’t need it.” He also decided against sending me for Cardiac Rehab because I had already walked more than 42K since being released from the hospital.

The word “shock” just doesn’t encompass the surprise I felt when I heard him say that I would be running again in mere weeks. I looked at him, somewhat puzzled, and said “I should probably rethink running the marathon in the Fall. Right?” His reply was, “if you want to run a marathon there is no reason that you can’t fulfill that dream. Which race?” So I told him about the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon and about my recent social media role with Canada Running Series for the Toronto Yonge Street 10K.

Speaking of which…

The Un-Race Report

a little warm-up run

a little warm-up run

Fast forward to Sunday April 13th. I don’t think I have ever been as excited about a race I wasn’t able to run. I made so many great running connections during my time as Digital Champion and I had decided that no matter what Friday’s outcome was with my heart, I was going to be there Sunday to cheer everyone on. My fellow Digital Champions had been an amazing support during all the health issues and I wanted to show them that I appreciated that.

We awoke uber-early on Sunday morning. Our friend Carla met us at the house, with coffee in hand, we strapped Kaia into her car seat and off we went. The horrible forecast had changed for the better and it looked like it would be a dry but windy race. The drive was pretty uneventful and parking was plentiful near the start line because we were a bit early.

A few days before I had exchanged messages with Krista Duchene and we were able to meet briefly before the race. I also met Robbie Watson. They were doing an East-West challenge so I wished them both a great race. It was great to meet both of them.  One day I will have to share a funny story about my first encounter with Krista about a year and a half ago. Meanwhile, Kaia and Bryan were running around near the start. This was going to be her last race in the stroller and she was raring to go. I’ve never seen a little girl so charged up about running as Kaia is and it isn’t every day I can let my child play in the middle of Yonge Street.

The Justice League

The Justice League

I waited at the start line and took photos of runners leaving the gate. I was using my Android and there was a glare on the screen so some of the shots were rather accidental. I did get a shot of The Justice League taking off which was great. I screamed loud encouragements to other friends as they started. I won’t sugar coat it, this was very hard for me. When I heard the gun go off and the announcer building up the excitement, I had to hold back a few tears. It was emotional for me on many levels but knowing that running is still possible for me, kept it from being anything more than damp lashes.

Then, after the last competitor was out of the gate, my friend Sheryl and I headed to the finish line. That didn’t exactly go as planned and her husband Ric had already finished by the time we got there. Oops. In hindsight we should have headed to the finish much earlier. We found a good spot and waited for Bryan, Carla, and Kaia. Sheryl and Ric drove Bryan back to our Jeep while Carla, Kaia, and I hung out at the awards ceremony. I met up with Andrew Chak, Jodi Lewchuck, and Mahnaz. Hugs all around. Then later I met Batman aka JP Hernandez and Spiderman aka Mark Sawh. Oh… and I met Alan Brookes as well. Can’t forget Alan! Everyone had hugs and it felt really great being there. I forgot how much I missed that beloved sense of community among runners.

It was a great day for a race. Rest assured that I WILL be crossing the Toronto Yonge Street 10K finish line next year. Maybe even as a Digital Champion! What do you think Mr. Brookes?

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Never have I wanted a Friday to come as badly as I want it to this week. I tend to savor every day but on this particular Friday I will go to see my cardiologist, Dr. J. What I want to hear him say, more than anything, is “sure you can slowly ease back into running”.

Last week I managed to walk for almost 25K on the treadmill. I wasn’t really given a plan or any direction other than to simply walk as much as I felt comfortable doing. I should be happy with the fact that I walked as much as I did. So many people can’t. I should be grateful considering I am recovering from a percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty (PTCA). It is a good sign of how well  my recovery is progressing to being doing this amount so soon after the procedure.

Yet, I wallow.

Perhaps it is the rainy weather that has put a damper on my mood this morning or maybe this is just my way of working through the emotion of what I’ve just been through—a post-traumatic sort of thing. Whatever it is, it is a dark place where I am not used to dwelling.

I want to snuggle under my down duvet and hide from the world.

But, what I really want is to run and to cycle.

I want my active life back.

It seems so ironic because there was a time where I wanted to lay down on the sofa and not do anything but eat and watch television. Funny how it started all those years ago as a mere desire to lose weight yet progressed to be so much more. I never thought I would feel so frustrated or restless. I’ve touched on this in the past but today that change seems so profound to me.

Wallowing.

It’s not something I do.

I believe in picking myself up and dusting myself off.

Forward momentum.

Today I am struggling with that. I’m frustrated. I’m sad. And, I’m fearful.

My other feeling is one of anticipation. I see the cardiologist on Friday. No matter what the outcome is, I will be somewhat relieved, because what I really want/need is direction, guidance, and an idea of where to go from here. A plan of action. I’m scared but I also feel that knowing the full picture will enable me to deal with these health issues as I always do—head on.

I thought about hiding my feelings and not sharing this because it doesn’t put out my usual message of positivity but I also felt that it is important to share that I have my ups and downs too. Despite my generally happy and positive outlook on life, I am not immune to being in a funk and…

like the rain, this won’t last for long.

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