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Archive for the ‘heart disease’ Category

It has taken me three weeks of soul searching to decide if I should post this on my blog. This is a very personal account and it’s difficult for me to put it out here for the whole world to read. I finally decided to go ahead with it because I’ve been quite open about everything thus far and maybe, through the sharing of my journey, I can help someone else who might be experiencing something similar.

As many of you know I underwent a PCI in March 2014. I had a blockage in a small artery and it was discovered, thanks to having a fit lifestyle, before there was a heart attack or any damage. Time passed and I tried repeatedly to train for races earlier this year. I couldn’t seem to train well. I knew I had lost cardiovascular ability but I assumed it was just because I hadn’t run enough. My blog posts spoke of anxiety when I ran but it wasn’t anxiety and what happened next was a bit of a shock to both my doctors and to me.

indian head cove

indian head cove

The first week of August we vacationed at Bruce Peninsula National Park. The first night at Cyprus Lake was simply awful. I had aches in my right arm that I attributed to shooting a 9mm at the range a few days before. I felt fatigued all week but continued to enjoy hikes on the rugged shorelines of Georgian Bay. I had been burning the candle at both ends for weeks so I chalked the exhaustion up to that and pushed through. My neck and left shoulder were a little sore but I figured that was from sleeping on the ground in a backpacking tent. We ended up having a wonderful week and the fatigue eventually passed. We came home, unpacked, and started to settle back into our routine.

Early Sunday morning (August 9th) I went to the gym with Carla. I overslept and basically grabbed an energy bar on my way out the door. I wasn’t feeling the best but I figured a good workout would energize me. I did my usual warm up on the bike but it was much slower than usual. Then we did upper body with free weights before going to the machines to do legs. When I was on the leg press machine I had some mild heartburn which I attributed to the energy bar and being in a reclined position. I was quiet on the ride home which is unlike me. When I got home the heartburn wouldn’t go away even with multiple doses of an antacid. I went to lay down for a bit because the fatigue became extreme. Finally the heartburn stopped, nausea started, and I napped. I got up for a light dinner and felt slightly better but I was still beyond tired.

At 11:20 pm I made the decision to get Bryan to drive me to the ER. I packed some essentials because my intuition told me this was my heart. I was admitted immediately and it was suspected, due to elevated Troponin levels in my blood, that I had suffered a very mild heart attack. What!? I thought maybe I was having warning signs but was utterly shocked that this was an actual heart attack. Where was the gripping pain? The sudden collapse? I mention this because often women don’t have obvious symptoms and a lot comes down to intuition. I knew things weren’t right and I had known since that night at Cyprus Lake. I was ticked. I had worked so hard since I started running to prevent heart disease from being such a big factor in my life, yet here I was.

The next step was to find out why and I was admitted to the Cardiac Ward. Less than 48 hours after arriving at the ER I was transported to the Cardiac Clinic at Hamilton General Hospital to undergo an angiogram to see what was happening inside my heart. I was terrified and thought that I had done all this hard work for naught… thinking the heart disease has progressed. So, what was the cause? A new blockage? Not exactly. The original stents (two drug-eluting stents that overlapped) that had been placed in an offshoot artery last year had closed because of my body creating scar tissue inside the foreign object. This is called in-stent restenosis… bleh. I have other names for it!

I was taken to the surgery for the angiogram and possible angioplasty.  I’d been here before so I knew what to expect, however, the procedure wasn’t as simple as it had been for me in 2014. They had problems going through my wrist and had to abort because of oozing and resume by going through my femoral artery. That went well enough from what I can see in the surgery report. They fixed the restenosis by using something called a Pantera Lux Paclitaxel Releasing Balloon. This is a relatively new solution that has only been approved in Canada for a short time. It is a medication coated balloon that is used to open the stent back up. The balloon is inflated and then removed leaving the medication behind.

After the surgeon did the angioplasty he came to talk with me. The doctor said he didn’t see any damage and his interpretation is that this was very severe angina and not a heart attack because there was no damage. When I questioned him about his opinion vs what the internist at Brantford General said, he put it this way… “If you gently bump another car in a parking lot and there is no sign of damage whatsoever is it still considered an accident? That depends who you ask.” Either way, it was a good thing I hadn’t delayed going to the hospital any longer than I already had.  The surgeon also mentioned that an additional artery had started forming. Creepy. We all have these lying dormant in our bodies but because of a relatively active lifestyle one of mine came to life, so to speak, in order to compensate for the restenosis. He informed me that they couldn’t fix the problem with the blocked stent 100% because it also affected a secondary spot and that I may experience some some discomfort when I run but that if I could exercise through it this “new” artery will continue to grow. That could eventually eliminate the symptoms and improve my heart health even more. That seemed promising.

Here’s where it got a wee bit scary. Three hours post-procedure the nurses went to remove the shunt from the artery in my leg and I started to hemorrhage. They applied pressure until the bleeding stopped. Then the ladies left the room and within 5-minutes I was screaming for them to come back because I now had a hematoma on my upper thigh the size of an American football. The nurses applied pressure to reduce that and tipped my bed so my head was at the floor. About this time I passed out so I’m not sure what happened next. When I awoke the nurse helped me to get up and walk around but the pain in my leg was excruciating. I looked down only to see one of the ugliest and biggest bruises I’ve ever had. Finally at 5 am I was transported back to Brantford.

my bruise - 2 weeks later

my bruise – 2 weeks after

My bruising from the hematoma was so severe that they were concerned about micro-aneurysms and clots. I was sent for ultrasound on that leg and also for blood flow on my left leg. Everything came back inconclusive although they had a hard time seeing sections of the bruised thigh. The bruise went right up to my hip and was starting to creep down my leg. I had to find a balance between walking enough to prevent blood clots and dealing with the pain of a growing bruise. I managed. I had a few other issues while at the hospital and was finally released the afternoon of the sixth day. I was happy to be going home.

When I arrived home I immediately called my own cardiologist to make a follow-up appointment. Rather than see me first and then send me for tests, Dr. J. decided that I should have a Cardiolite Exercise Test on the treadmill so I did that day before yesterday. The doctor didn’t pull me from the test but at almost 11-minutes I asked to stop because of hypoglycemia. Silly diabetes. Thankfully I had reached 87% of my maximum heart rate which was more than enough for their purposes as they only needed me to get to 85%. I felt good and it was really nice to run again but I won’t really know anything until I meet with Dr. J. next Tuesday. Then I will have a clear idea of where I am at with this and if there are further issues.

So that’s the scoop. If this was indeed a heart attack it was uber-mild. Once again, I was very fortunate and listening to my body played a big part in this. I’m doing everything I can but I’m also battling genetics which makes this a really tough fight. I’m grateful that this was not a new issue in another part of my heart and that the disease has not progressed, as far as we know. I’m relieved that all the fitness and nutrition wasn’t for naught.

I’ll share an update once I see the cardiologist in a week but I’m quite confident that this is not an issue of if I can run again but more a matter of when I can run again. When I do start back it’s not going to be easy but as Bethany Hamilton says… “I don’t need easy, I just need possible.”

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If you’ve been following my blog ramblings for any length of time then you’ve read about my battle with heart disease. If not, let me get you up to speed. If you already know about my journey then feel free to skip ahead to the update.

My History

I have horrible family genetics when it comes to premature coronary disease causing death and there is also a history of diabetes. Couple that with my former self being severely overweight and sedentary… well you have a ticking time bomb. That would have been the case but I decided, after watching family member after family member suffer from heart disease, that I was going to change my life. I lost weight. I lost a lot of weight. Then I was diagnosed with diabetes. I became even more proactive about my health and reversed the need for diabetes medications. I fought for my life and fought hard.

I saw a cardiologist for a full work-up when I first started running. I had to push for this because it isn’t a standard part of a physical from a family doctor. I was diagnosed with left ventricular hypertrophy (LVH) and my aortic valve had a very mild stenosis. The LVH was likely due to my former size as it was reversing. Things were going swimmingly and I ran my first half marathon. Then I accidentally kicked a dumbbell and broke two of the toes on my left foot. After they healed I returned to running and my cardio was worse than it was when I was obese. It didn’t make sense. I thought something wasn’t right, that this was more than a setback due to the toe business. I went to the cardiologist and failed a treadmill stress test but before I got the results I decided I should go to the emergency ward. I still felt really off. Less than a week later I was at home recovering from what is called Percutaneous Transluminal Coronary Angioplasty. In other words, I had two stents placed in a branch off the left circumflex artery. You can read the whole story in the blog post named Fixing My Broken Heart.

I had to come to terms that no matter how perfectly I did everything, genetics will always play a role. My cardiologist, Dr. J. has explained to me that I am doing everything right and that is why I didn’t have a heart attack or heart damage despite having a significant blockage. He told me my heart was strong. I was cleared to run a full marathon but I was to avoid things like heavy lifting. What followed was months of anxiety. Panic would set in when I would run longer distances. I was stressed and upset. I dropped out of all my races including the marathon. I had worked so hard to prevent heart disease and I was very disappointed in myself even though I didn’t have control over much of it due to genetics. I was bummed.

The update

So, now that you have the background, here is what happened on Friday’s visit to Dr. J. I stressed for days about it. I went to my appointment expecting to be told that I had to limit things like weight lifting at the gym and serious hill training for races like Run for the Toad. What happened next caught me off guard. Here is how the appointment went…

I had an echo-cardiogram first, followed by an EKG and measurements for blood pressure, weight and abdominal circumference. Finally it was time to consult with the doctor. Dr. J. is a rather pompous guy but not so with me. Well, not since the first visit when he started to lecture me about weight loss and I handed him my before photo. He knows I’m really proactive and that I take his advice very seriously.

So I am still dealing with Familial Hypercholesterolaemia (say that five times fast) and that is something genetic which I have no control of. In other words, I will likely be on a cholesterol lowering medication for the rest of my life no matter how healthy a lifestyle I lead. Thanks Dad! We talked about some new research into a monthly injection that has had great success in Europe and is going through trials here. It won’t be available to me for several years but it could be an alternative that is less harmful to the body.

The verdict… everything is great… really great! I can go off the blood thinner in 60 days. No more polka dot bruising from having NERF dart wars with my kids. No more anemia! I asked about lifting heavier amounts at the gym. I asked about training for Run for the Toad and other trail races where there are wicked hills. When I heard his response I was compelled to ask him two or three times to be sure my ears weren’t deceiving me. I have the all clear for anything I want to try. He said run hills, climb mountains… whatever I want. In fact, I have NO restrictions whatsoever!! I had to completely restrain myself from doing a happy dance in Dr. J.’s office. NO restrictions!!

Much of the success of this appointment and all of what I have been through with my heart and with diabetes has been due to my dedication to having a healthy lifestyle. Losing weight in a healthy way, keeping fitness fun, and having a balanced way of eating has proven to be the best medicine. I may not be skinny but I am healthier than I have ever been.

PS I did the happy dance in the driveway when we got home… lol.

PPS I’m going to tackle Run for the Toad again. It’s redemption time!

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Seven months ago today I had been transported, by ambulance, from Hamilton to Brantford after undergoing the Percutaneous Coronary Intervention (formerly known as angioplasty). Later that afternoon I was released and I began the process of recovery.

Physically I recovered very quickly but emotionally the journey has been a little more difficult. It has been hard to try and wrap my head around the fact that I am okay. It freaks me out to know I have something foreign in my body. I underwent all sorts of post-procedure testing and that indicated that there could be a mild and reversible issue or that my ample bosom was interfering with the scans. In other words, I’m fine. As you know, I had been cleared to train for a marathon so that in itself was pretty positive. Yet, here I was struggling with runs and breathing. Five minutes into things I would start having troubles and my mind would automatically go to thoughts of it being my heart again. It seemed to be getting worse… until…

Starbucks with Carla.

Back at the beginning of October, Carla and I decided to catch up with one another over coffee at her favorite coffee shop. The next thing I knew my dear friend had convinced me to go for an orientation at The Athletic Club (TAC) here in Brantford. I can’t remember how we actually got on the topic but next thing I knew we were touring the brightly lit facility. She didn’t pressure me but she did share her passion for working out there. I could see why. TAC is open, bright, and not the least bit intimidating. It wasn’t at all what I had anticipated. So, on October 4th I committed to becoming a member for a year. Quite honestly, I have toyed with the idea on numerous occasions but Carla gave me the gentle push I needed.

With membership at TAC you receive a fitness assessment as well as a personal training demo. I went in to see Kelly Harker and we spent well over an hour discussing my history, current health, lifestyle, and goals. Kelly did all sorts of fitness tests and gave me a copy of the results. I have some work to do. Body fat is still a concern, but I knew that going in. I still can’t do a push-up to save my life. Well, okay… I managed one and even that was modified. Apparently I have average strength biceps… that one shocked me. I would have expected a poor rating there. My flexibility is shot… I used to be able to sit and reach well beyond the tips of my toes (lol – I’ll just blame that on being a runner).

I had gone in with extremely low expectations surrounding cardio-fitness because, when it comes to my health, I’m a realist. I had been off with broken toes, heart issues, and bronchitis that verged on pneumonia—it was one hell of a year. With the time away from training I had expected my cardiovascular ability to be close to rock bottom. After all, every time I would run I would feel like I was immensely out of shape in that regard.

face your fears

face your fears

I braced myself for the news that my suspicions were correct, however, my VO2Max was much better than I thought. I had expected to be in around the 21 V02Max range which is quite low. The actual assessment was much higher at 33.2 which is considered good. What!? At first, I thought maybe she had made a mistake. It was at that moment I realized the breathing issues I have been having when I run are not physical… I was dealing with anxiety. Knowing that has been a gift that has allowed me to move beyond fears that my heart issue wasn’t fixed. That one simple act of going to Starbucks with Carla that day started me on a course of action that would lift a great weight from my shoulders.

While I have your attention, I should update you on The Fall Challenge that I decided to do in order to support my friend Kim.

Here is where I am at…

Nutrition

I have done well with all the goals I set out for myself except I still need to focus more on breaking the habit of having lunch in front of the computer. I could still do with incorporating more dark leafy vegetables too.

Fitness

I’m walking, running, and working out at the gym where I am concentrating on the areas that need some attention. I met with Jenn Jones, a Personal Trainer at TAC. Jenn gave me some pointers on how to achieve my goals which are to increase strength especially in the core, reduce body fat percentage, bring up my V02Max even more, increase flexibility and lose a little more body weight in a healthy way that I can maintain over the long term.

I am somewhat lacking in discipline when it comes to doing the daily yoga flows and will continue to work on that during the last bit of this challenge. Soon enough it will be second nature.

Posture

I’m continuing to work on correcting decades of poor posture. It’s tough but I am determined to stand tall. The gym has mirrors and that certainly helps me check my form when I am lifting and such.

Other

I’m sleeping better. There are a few exceptions to this, like when my little girl has been coughing in the night. Cutting down on the caffeine and exercising more has been quite helpful in this regard.

So there you have it. I’m back to my run-bunctious self.

I feel good great for the first time in over a year. I’m starting to sign up for running events that will take place in 2015 and my enthusiasm for fitness has returned.

And… I couldn’t have done this without the people who have encouraged me, believed in me, and lifted my spirit.

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I’ve been very quiet on twitter, dailymile, and my blog lately because I needed a break to get some perspective.

Over the last year life has interfered with my plans. Broken toes. Health issues. PTCA. Bronchitis. After a while this started to take its toll on me emotionally and I haven’t been feeling very exuberant about running. Yes, as über-positive as I am, I’ve had to face the fact that I’ve been in a good old funk.

It’s not the wallowing kind of funk. I’m not one to feel sorry for myself—I am content and happy for the most part. It’s more frustration that this past year wasn’t what I had hoped it would be. What happened with my heart coupled with not meeting my running goals for 2014 came down on me like a ton of bricks. I haven’t managed a single race since the day I kicked the dumbbell and broke my toes back in November 2013. It has been a roller coaster since then and there are times I find myself struggling.

I was still battling bronchitis for several weeks after announcing that I wasn’t going to run the 42.2K at the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon (STWM). As the incessant coughing started to wane, our family went on vacation. During this time away I began look at things from a different perspective.  Although I took my running gear with me, I didn’t run because I still wasn’t feeling great and I wanted to spend time with my family. Eight hours each way in the Jeep gave Bryan and I plenty of time for some great heart-to-heart chats. This helped me to resolve some of what I had been feeling. Despite this, when I returned home life got busy with the kids and other obligations so running got pushed into the background even further. Admittedly, I settled into that quite willingly.

This past weekend I started to reassess where I want to go with running and where I truly stand from a cardiovascular standpoint. My intent, when I decided I wouldn’t be able to run the full at STWM, was to run the half marathon and I changed my registration to reflect that. Now I am second guessing the decision to run at all. With a mere nine weeks left to train and taper for the event, squeezing training into that short of a time span is not exactly realistic given the challenges that I face, but part of me still wants to try. I don’t know what I’m going to do yet. While I haven’t lost all of my fitness, I’m not where I need to be in regards to running longer distances. Plus, I need to rediscover my love of the run. I seem to have lost sight of that recently. Perhaps it is simply because I’ve put too much pressure on myself. I thought about my situation, talked with Bryan, and we decided that it would be to my benefit to dig out my early training plans and pick a more appropriate starting point.

As you can read, I’ve accepted some difficult actualities and am beginning to come to terms with the simple fact that the big gaps in my training have affected my base adversely. These were circumstances that were not within my control and what will be, will be. That’s just life. Reality. It’s not easy embracing where I am at but there are positives. Despite what I have lost, I am by no means the same runner I was when I first started. Running has given me courage in so many other areas of my life and it has given me the wisdom to know that getting back to basics is essential. It has taught me to keep trying.

Taking a few steps back is often the best course of action when it comes to looking at the grand scheme of things. After all, life is like a dance and the past year mine has been a bit of a Cha Cha. It does keep things interesting, that’s for sure. For me, giving up is not an option and so I continue to work towards a fitter, healthier me. In the end, an approach to build a better foundation will make me stronger in body, mind, and spirit.

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Acceptance doesn’t mean resignation; it means understanding that something is what it is and that there’s got to be a way through it. – Michael J. Fox

Thursday morning…

After a two week bout of bronchitis, which I am still not 100% rid of, I sit at my desk while writing a note to Canada Running Series. As the tears roll down my cheeks I request that my registration be transferred from a full marathon to a half marathon. These aren’t tears of sadness, but of relief. I’ve been struggling with this decision for quite some time. I put a lot of pressure on myself not to let anyone down. I was going to run this marathon even if it took me seven hours. I made promises to Canada Running Series and myself.

So, if I wanted to run a marathon so badly, why the change?

The crux of the matter is that I have lost a lot of my running base because of being off with broken toes and the problems with my heart. Two weeks after the heart procedure my cardiologist said to hang on to the dream of running the full at Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon this October and a few weeks after that, I was running again. I got carried away with the excitement of making it through such an ordeal that I accepted the opportunity to run the full as one of the Digital Champions for STWM.  I was alive and felt great. My speed workouts were more effective. I felt energized and ready to tackle the marathon.

feet in training

moving forward

When I brought those Saturday morning long runs back in the mix it was a struggle. I could no longer run the distances I had become accustomed to the year before. The high heat and humidity were definitely factors that made the runs exceedingly more difficult. I convinced myself that maybe it was a mental block because I couldn’t seem to get past where I was before I had the heart problems. But if I am being honest with myself, that’s not all it was—what I had to accept is that my base has suffered. I was off for a few months with the toes and then a few more with the heart blockage, so it is my reality. Not to mention, my body has been through some trauma and I’m dealing with the side effects of being on a blood thinner (things like anemia and bruising).

Bronchitis meant more time away from building that base but it also gave me pause to really think about what I want to do… what I need to do. Time has become a factor. There are a mere 13 weeks until race day. This means I would only get one 32K training run in. For most first-timers that wouldn’t be a problem however being diabetic throws a wrench into things for me. I would like to have a few more of those long runs in a training plan so that I can learn how my body reacts to fueling. Not having a good handle on that can result in not being able to finish. The bottom line is that I could run the 42.2K but training without the solid base would open me up to injury or disappointment.

It just isn’t training time. It is also time with family. I’m a Mom first. My partner, Bryan, will be away on business for much of August and September. In August, he’ll be home on weekends but in September he’ll be at a huge tradeshow in another country. We won’t have a lot of time to spend together and training for the full will reduce that even further. This happens every other year and, in hindsight, I should have considered it when deciding to run a full.

Don’t mistake these reasons for excuses because they are not. I’m still going to be running and training. The only change will be the length of time I am putting in on those weekend long distance runs. This is acceptance of where I am at with body, mind, and spirit. It is the realization that this has been a really rough year and that I need to be gentle with my spirit while moving forward. I am at peace with the path I have chosen.

The goal remains the same—the timeline has merely shifted. I still consider myself as being in training for a marathon… I’m just taking a more scenic route to get there. I plan to become a stronger runner, build my core strength and flexibility, and listen to my body. I will run a few half marathons and perhaps Around the Bay 30K, then revisit the idea of a full marathon sometime in 2015.

When I shared the news of my transfer with my friend Kim, a marathon runner, her words summed it up perfectly…

Everybody seems to want to rush through the entire running bucket list. The marathon isn’t going anywhere—it will still be there when you’re ready.

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finally

finally

Yesterday was Mother’s Day. I am so proud to be a Mom and my children are the centre of my universe. My darling Tobias is now a teenager but he still has the big heart of the sweet little guy I used to cuddle in my arms. For Mother’s Day, aside from the gift he bought me with his allowance, he gave me something that I will never forget—his time.

His Dad is away right now and that coupled with the fact that his little sister Kaia won’t have anything to do with the running stroller now that she’s older, makes it difficult for me to get time to train. Tobias offered to watch her while I ran yesterday, so I took him up on it and hit the treadmill.

Before I tell you how that went, let me back up a bit. You may have read that I broke my toes in November and then had a heart procedure about 6 weeks ago. Nearer the end of April I was given the green light to train for a full marathon. During all this time off  I lost some of my cardiovascular fitness. I also developed some anxiety which is very common with heart patients. I would think about running and be overcome with the fear that I wouldn’t be able to breathe again. So I’d skip the run or I’d start to run, panic, and shut the treadmill off after 2 or 3K. I knew that if I was even going to consider a full marathon this Fall I would need to push through this.  Here I was with a strong, healthy heart and the blessing of my cardiologist to train; backed up by extensive testing. Yet I was gripped by a debilitating fear about my heart.

Tobias asked me how far I was planning to run. I told him 4K as that was what I had put in my training plan. I started to run and I decided that I wouldn’t allow myself to give up until I had reached the distance I promised him I would do. At 2.5K I started second guessing myself again. I changed my music and kept going. Then I hit the 3K mark followed by 4K. The fear hadn’t been there like the last few attempts and I was actually feeling great even though I was finding it tough. I said to myself… “Self, why don’t you just do the 5K? You know it would make you happy.” Yes, I talk to myself when I run—it’s a runner thing.

My son came out to see how I was doing and I asked if he minded watching Kaia a few minutes longer because I wanted to try for 5K. He agreed with a “Go Mom Go!” and then Kaia came out and joined in the cheer.  So, with the best cheering squad a Mom could ever hope for, I continued to run. The kids headed back to Tobias’ room to play with Lego.

When I saw 5K on the display I started to cry. I paused the treadmill, called out to Tobias and he came running out to see what was wrong. Between the sobs I explained that these were tears of joy and that I was more than okay. I was hot and sweaty and I felt really good. Accomplished. Three months ago I thought I would never be able to run again. To run past the fear meant the world to me. It showed me that I can do this and that I am still a runner.

This was a major breakthrough and one I desperately needed for my mind, body, and spirit. Tobias’ providing me with an opportunity to run without distraction turned out to be one of the most wonderful Mother’s Day gifts he’s ever given me. I can’t thank him enough. In being so giving he helped me to find my inner possible again—that part inside of me that makes even the most difficult challenges seem possible.

 

 

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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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