Tag Archives: Hole in the heart

Heart Surgery To Ironman – The Next Chapter

3 Jan

So then new year has finally arrived – for me, 2011 signals the continuation on a journey to the ultimate physical and mental challenge of an Ironman. Reminiscing about 2010 today has made me realise the strength I gained from a trying year inspite of the obstacle of being diagnosed with a heart condition. The experience has made me even more grateful for the ability to exercise and the excitement of entering races to push my physical boundaries.

I started 2010 bursting with enthusiasm for exercise and had entered many races; running and triathlon. I was enjoying being part of the local triathlon club, had huge plans for new business and generally felt great…apart from a few nagging symptoms. I had been to see my doctor on new year’s eve as something told me that was a serious condition underlying. Lucky that I did as 2 weeks later, I was diagnosed with a hole in the heart. On new year’s day 2011, I sat discussing that year that has passed and tried to pinpoint the positive parts that stood out. I identified moving house, employing a first member of staff, enjoying having family over in the summer, signing up to a coaching course. I was a little sad to not have achieved the sporting and business aims I had set out in January 2010.

Aims from last year are now being carried over to 2011, with an added few, including a half Ironman in September. My journey to Ironman is not only following heart surgery but  also as a novice triathlete. I had just a year of training in the 3 disciplines before doctors told me to stop all exercise. This was a frustrating time, leaving me feeling helpless. My focus on the future kept me going, as it does now. When I lack the motivation to run, bike or swim, I imagine myself back in the hospital speaking to the consultant who told me my heart was failing. The previous day I had run 16 miles!

Speaking of heart failure, my grandfather has recently been diagnosed with this condition after a history of angina, heart attacks and coronary artery bypasses. We share stories of scans and consultant visits , laughing about the similarities. Coronary heart disease is all around and this makes me passionate about spreading the message about the importance of a healthy lifestyle. The cardiac history in my family has always been a concern to me, and maybe was one of the reasons I started running regularly. When studying to be a nurse, I chose to write  my dissertation on cardiac rehabilitation and found it amusing that I ended up attending these classes myself, age 27!

Now that 2011 is here, the long term goal of an Ironman in 2012 feels that much closer. I just can’t wait!!

Happy New Year! :)

From Diagnosis to Ironman

17 Mar

Back in January, I was diagnosed with a hole in my heart. Over the last two months I have had many investigations, with today being the first day I received results. I will need an operation to close the hole in my heart, as it is large and the right side of my heart is failing (!). Not nice news.

BUT, after the operation and recovery, I will be able to return to my current level of fitness and far exceed this also. My initial questions to my consultant were those relating to health, the surgery, outcomes etc. Second, came questioning about my ability to return to training for running events and triathlons. As exercise is a big part of my life, I naturally wanted to enquire how this diagnosis will impact my plans for racing this year and for the future.

My plans for marathons for this year are out, definitely. My triathlon races and the London to Brighton bike ride in mid-summer, questionable. I have paid to see my consultant privately to speed things up, for which I am lucky. Seeing a specialist in Southampton will give me the answers to my health and fitness questions. I am informed (and this information is cemented in my mind), that I will be running within 4 weeks of surgery, so long as I have a local anaesthetic procedure as opposed to open heart surgery.

Either way and under any circumstances, I am DETERMINED to remain positive and achieve my dreams of improving as an athlete, however amateur! Over the last few years, my running has improved – not greatly (and for this I now have reason!). My love of triathlon including swimming and cycling has grown and I am committed to pursuing my fitness goals. And yes, this does include Ironman.

Ironman for me symbolises the ultimate challenge, physically, psychologically and emotionally. For those that achieve this endurance challenge, the rewards are immense. I am incredibly hard to please, and this is what drives me forward. To sit back and accept or resign yourself to a seemingly gloomy fate is unproductive. You could even say that this kind of attitude is failing yourself.

My journey starts here. Crazy as it sounds, I’m excited. I am positive that the benefits of this hurdle in my life will far outway any negative implications. To test myself like never before and record my journey to share my experience with others, I will not only increase my belief in my abilities to succeed but inspire others to overcome obstacles in their lives.