The Cardiologist (2)

We had an appointment with the Cardiologist later that day.

It’s funny how quickly things move along. I’d gone from being okay to requiring heart surgery.

The Cardiologist went over the findings and talked about stents versus open heart surgery. He didn’t need to convince me in favour of open heart surgery.

While stents have their place, surgery seems to be a more “permanent” solution and I was happy to go down that path.

He would get opinions from colleagues and then advise me of his full recommendation.

“I’ll be in touch in two days.”

July 4 (evening)

Angie-O-Gram Day (2)

*”And so here I am, waiting in the lobby, sweating bullets in this stupid old suit …” to have this angiogram done.

They wheel me in, slip the needle into my wrist to send the dye through to the heart. The specialist sees my tattoo and comments about running marathons.

“Quite a few ultra runners have heart disease issues.”

Nice start!

I’m lying on the gurney as he starts sending the dye through.

“Hmmm, we have a major, a serious and a minor blockage.” Or something to that effect.

He walks me through what he sees and, really, for the first time, I know I have some shit to deal with.

Try as I may, I can’t stop the tear running down my face.

Fuck!

July 4

*”I don’t want to be alone” – Billy Joel

The Cardiologist

After any stress test you need to see your referring Specialist. I had made an appointment with The Cardiologist for the Monday following.

With no adverse results this was likely a quick visit.

Indeed it was.

We discussed the test. But we also discussed the pain I’d been experiencing on my runs. The runs were my real test, he advised, and they weren’t going well.

“But we’ll do an angiogram and see what that tells us.”

“At least that will rule that out,” he said.

And so an angiogram was planned for the Wednesday.

July 2

Note: an angiogram is not a message delivered by someone called Angie! (boom-tish!)

That Run

Note: possibly longer than 100 words today, but not by much. Ok, double that!

It was time to put the past behind me and get back into training. Sunday is long run day and today was 8km. Easy!

West Coast Drive is a great place to run so I headed there. Starting at Trigg Beach I headed north, into the wind, so I had a tailwind on the way back.

It’s an easy run – 4km out, 4km back. Done and dusted.

About 2.75km in the chest pains began again but, you know, heartburn.

Then it grew to the neck and jaw (angina?) and then a crushing headache. I stopped to walk and take stock of what was happening. I decided it maybe better to call it quits, giving up on the 8km.

But, you know, f*ck it, if I have to walk to complete 8km, I’ll walk.

So I continued on and the pain subsided. Happy days.

After a while I decided it was okay to run again but after 500m all the symptoms came back.

Walking eased the pain again so I finished off by walking the rest of the way. No matter the 8.0 km was done.

July 1

Recovery Run

img_0490Recovery runs are easy workouts that may flush out lactic acid build up, which can help prevent delayed onset of muscle soreness and speed up recovery. Something athletes do after a half marathon or marathon or during training to recover from high intensity sessions like intervals.

My runs at the moment are simply recovering from surgery.

Since The Big Day (17 July, the date of at the triple bypass) I’ve been slowly getting back to normal activity through walking and then stretching to longer walks and then more brisk walks.

At today’s parkrun at Yokine, Western Australia, I got into what I’d call normal running.

I started off walking and then decided to run a light pole, walk a light pole to see how I’d feel.

I certainly didn’t run the whole 5km today but towards the end of the run I felt that my cadence was coming back and the rhythm was feeling like something familiar.

Bypass image
Image courtesy of Annals of Cardiothoracic Surgery

It’s still a bit “jumpy” where the surgeon took the two mammary arteries to use be, but certainly better then last week.

I also felt a tingling in my left thumb where the radial artery was taken from to help with the surgery.

The left arm is healing really nicely too, thanks to John Ranger, the guy who performed the suturing. He’s done an amazing piece of work.

It’s is almost nine weeks since the surgery and in terms of realising how after you’ve progressed, it’s more the things that don’t happen that make you realise its all coming together.

For example, just 3 or 4 weeks ago, my mammary arteries would cause a nerve tingling that was very aggravating. Now that’s completely gone! But you don’t realise it’s gone for a few days, if you know what I mean.

So, the progress is definitely there and just when you think something doesn’t look or feel right, it seems to go away.

I’ve never had heart surgery before (and hopefully never again) so I’m not really sure how this is supposed to go! But, so far so good!