Jun 13, 2012

Big Mac
Testing one's resilience literally returning from death!

A few days ago, sweet recovery

I finally returned to open water swimming last weekend after a tumultuous month of surprise cardiac medical activity. I am so happy given the ride I have taken recently but more so the friends from BAM and the Otter Club at Lake Zurich, my Doctor George Christy, Good Shepard Hospital and my family welcoming me back.

Since September when I sat on the shore in Dover watching my chance to attempt the English Channel fade due to bad weather, I took off some well deserved time and focused on my heath, letting my shoulders, upper back and neck recover from the last big push in training where I was routinely stroking away 35 - 38,000 yards per week during last summer.

In late September I was diagnosed with C 4, 5, 6 stenosius and one disk that is significantly compressed and two others that appear poorly aligned. We all thought swimming took its toll, or so we thought so this wasn't the real surprise.

The big surprise came after my doctor suggested I get that ubiquitous 'turning 50' stress treadmill test. Boy was I in for a surprise. First of all I hate running, actually let me rephrase, I respect greatly those who run well, I don't, I am a plugger on land. Thus, after 14 minutes on the tread mill at 20% incline running full out my heart monitor was showing the little tell-tail signs of a problem. At the same time I could not max our my heart rate which was at 148 and should have been 170 at this point. Thank god for my swimming and aerobic capacity helping out what we discovered later in a subsequent angiogram were two artery blockages the front 50% and in the back 90%. We did not immediately do the angioplasty and stenting because my doctor knew this was a surprise and and being such a great Doc conservatively pulled back to confer. I thank god for him and his counsel, wonderful bedside manner and that he kept my health and safety at the very front of all discussions.

It was during this time we all agreed that a conservative approach was to be taken prior to my angioplasty and I started taking Beta Blockers to prevent any heart damage. While I was in no danger since we had caught this very early it nonetheless slowed my heart rate further to the low 40's. Of course because I was aerobically in such good shape it seemed just fine until coming out of anesthesia from the Angiogram.

During my recovery from the Angiogram I was very comfortable but sat up quickly and proceeded to slowly pass out, speaking with the nurses calmly that I was faint. I vaguely recall as I blacked out hearing one of the nurses say something like "should I hit him" then someone said no, give the adrenaline push. a few seconds later I came around and the whole thing was surreal. I didn't know it at the time but I flat lined according to my Doc for a 8 seconds. I recall saying to my wife later that if that was what dying was like then no problem. It was extremely calm, warm and surprising relaxing. But of course it could have simply been Vagal response or something medical like this a few commented? What ever that means. Anyway, everything went well after that recovery proceeded and other than some minor drug adjustments I am fine.

Somewhere in front of my lies another scheduled date with the English Channel Sept 1-6, 2014 to be exact and the yet unknown cervical neck issue that I hope through better and more holistic training I can avoid to achieve my dream of being the 50th over 50 person in history to cross the English Channel. My coach, Marcia Cleveland and training pal Doug McConnell will get me their!

This Saturday I do my follow-up stress test which I expect to be normal, despite my hating running, and hope to return to some normal land and water training to have fun and build back endurance for perhaps a short race or two yet this fall.