Archive for December, 2008

Three Years

Three years ago today I let doctors hack into my heart (via my femoral artery) and fix the constant chipmunk beating. The day after the surgery, I wrote an email to some friends cataloging my favorite moments of the surgery, which I give you below.

(Also worth noting is that the day of the surgery is the first time the Boss met my parents — and he had to spend 12 hours with them making small talk while I was out of commission. I think our marriage was probably a forgone conclusion after that; I mean, how else are you going to get a return on investment?)

Anyway, my thoughts on the surgery, as expressed by me 3 years ago:

My favorite moments of the surgery, in no particular order:
1) Drugs. Drugs are cool.

2) Being consistently reminded that I’m like, the youngest person ever, in the cardiac ward.

3) Before the procedure I was asking when I could be up and about again and the guy was like “No running for at least a week”. So, I’m ok and saying “Huh. Yeah, prob. no biking either.” him: “Yeah.” me “Hmmm…. could I swim?” him: “Nah, you prob shouldn’t — what the hell is wrong with you? Take a week off for crying out loud! Jeez. sit on the couch and get fat like a real American. Sheesh”

4) I was more or less totally sedated the whole time (and totally restrained on the table), but every now and then I’d get un-woozy and look up from the table and start checking things out, going “Hey, what’s the monitor; what’s that thing to” and the next thing I’d feel is warmth running through the IV and the world getting woozy again. Yup. They were shutting me up via meds. Ok by me!

5) They kept shocking my heart to make it chimpunk, and once they got it going, they couldn’t get it to stop (umm…yeah, that’s why I’m here…), so the doc leans over and we have the following conversation:
Doc: “Ok, we need to stop then restart your heart. Have you ever had a shot of adenosine?”
Me: “Many, many times”
Doc: “Great then you know what to expect”
Me: “Yes. It feel like a mack truck is downshifting on your chest”
Doc: “Exactly. Deep breath …. [push the plunger]”

6) After the procedure was done, the heart tech. runs out and puts a pen into my hand. His comment? “You gave me your heart, I gave you a pen.” Awesome

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So, Lance Armstrong’s on Twitter— he updates like 20 times a day — and posted this pic

It must be so surreal to know your words are that important to people. Guys, let me know if you have this blog on you when you get blown up in Iraq. I’ll sign it for ya.

Anyway, despite the cliche of someone who likes her bike liking a Lance Armstrong book (which I think makes me a certified tri geek), I still recommend this book to anyone who will listen. It’s a book about being so sick that you think you won’t ever be well, depression in losing a sense of self through sickness, and then getting over it. Oh yeah, it’s also about being a kick ass athlete and what it takes to be at the top of one’s game.

I related. When I look back to the time directly after I got out of the hospital, I wince in remembrance. I struggled — unknowingly — for a long time to regain the sense of self that I lost when I got really sick. It’s clear to me in retrospect but at the time I was just living day by day, completely unaware of how much pain I was really in.

Of course, I didn’t have to win the Tour de France to get over ‘it’ — nor am I a kick ass athlete — but then, I wasn’t mostly dead with cancer, so I think its all proportional.

It was hard to get through at parts, but I think it may be one of the loveliest books I have ever read.

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Oh, How Man Has Fallen


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“How do you know if you are ready to go long? You don’t. You commit, you train, and you pray” -Going Long

It was amazing, humbling, wonderful, painful and basically the best day ever.

People keep remarking in a surprised fashion that I look so happy in all the pictures. One of my friends and fellow racers said to me last night: “I just can’t believe how happy you look. How could you look like you’re having so much fun during the race?”

What can I say? Six years ago I was told I’d never be healthy enough to run a marathon, three years ago I had heart surgery, and for the past two years I’ve been sitting on the sidelines watching others finish race after race; how could I be anything BUT happy while racing an Ironman? Any day you get a chance to do what you once thought impossible, you’d better smile.

I’m proud of myself. With a little planning, a little luck, a lot of support, and the unwavering belief that putting one foot in front of the other will get you where you need to go, I really believe you can do anything.

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