Stress Test

Last week, after 15 months of heart tests,  I was finally given a thumbs-up.  Everything is fine.

The fact that doctors thought there was something wrong with my heart was an enigma. In November 2017, days before I was running Nationals cross-country, an 8k distance, I was scheduled for a routine asthma test at the hospital.  During one of the baseline tests, the respirologist stopped the test.  “We can’t do it,” she said.  “Your heart rate isn’t normal.”

I was completely dumbfounded.  How was that even possible?  At that point in 2017, I had logged almost 2000 miles for the year and I was racing fast enough to call myself a competitive runner.

Cross Country Nationals 2017

How could I possibly have something wrong with my heart?  But during the baseline test, my heart rate dropped (spiked down, as she said) so that it was dangerous to proceed with the test.  After answering what felt like a gazillion questions (Do you smoke?  Do you drink?  Do you workout?  What do you do for exercise? and so on) and meeting with a cardiologist, they decided that it was safe for me to continue the asthma test.  “It’s okay.  There is a cardiologist next door if something goes wrong.”

Over the next 6 months, I had bloodwork, an echocardiogram, and an ultrasound of my heart.  In simplest words, results showed that my outtake valve is thinner than my intake valve; the valves, by the way, are only 1mm thick, which I find absolutely remarkable.  So running is good for me, but it meant that I needed to be monitored.

This past fall, at another asthma appointment with my respirologist, she asked whether I had been showing any symptoms?  “Of what?” I asked.  “I really don’t know what I am looking for.”  My waking up and gasping for air in the middle of the night could be asthma-related, or it could be a symptom of a heart problem.  So could the dizziness that I sometimes have during the day (which is likely attributed to a low heart rate).   My doctor wanted to “cross the t’s and dot the i’s) so she referred me to a cardiologist. Continue reading “Stress Test”

Do I Laugh or Cry?

“There is value in learning to accept gracefully those things that cannot be changed.”

This were the first words that I read in my son’s psychology text on the weekend.  He had rushed off to work and left his book on the kitchen table, open to a section on anger and frustration.  Being a psych major, I couldn’t help but look at what he was studying and, somewhat appropriately, these words jumped out at me.

The past few months have been a test of my mental strength.  How much frustration and disappointment of being injured (July), re-injured (October) and learning that it was way worse than anyone originally thought (January) can I handle?  I like to think of myself as a positive person, one who looks for an upside, thinks happy thoughts and believes that “things happen for a reason.” The upside of my hamstring tear is it has given me more time at home with my 13 year old and let me watch him grow as a student, an athlete, and a person.  But I am now in my sixth month of healing, almost 3 seasons later, and while I have accepted my injury, my frustration is still there.

Good news! Or so I thought.

I had a glimmer of hope that my weeks of being side-lined are coming to an end when I finally got an appointment date for a PRP injection: April 16th @ 12:00PM DURING HIS LUNCH.  I had no idea what was meant by “during his lunch.”  Am I suppose to feel extra grateful that he is seeing me at 12:00 rather than make me wait another week or two?  Is this a underlying message that I better not be late?  Or he is so busy that he is likely to be behind and I better not dare complain because he is seeing me “during his lunch.”  Or maybe, just maybe, it is a subtle hint to bring him a coffee, a snack or even a lunch.  Well, I am grateful that he is seeing me at this time rather than have me wait for another appointment at a later date so I happily confirmed it, I won’t complain if he is behind and maybe, just maybe, I’ll stop at Tim’s to bring him a snack.  I could only laugh.

However, when I called to confirm, I learned that this is not my appointment for the injection; it is a consultation.  Since 1 in 10 people are turned away, I have to meet with the doctor first and go in later for the actual injection.  I wanted to cry.   If my injection is at the end of April, I can assume that I will be off for another 6 to 8 weeks, which means that I still won’t be running until the end of June.  And that is only if I need one PRP shot.  If I need another, it will obviously be even longer.

This whole process has been frustrating beyond belief and it is now being overshadowed but the occasional fear.  What if I am that one in ten?  What if I can’t run again.  What if?  What if?   I hate the “what if?” game.  “Stay positive.  Look for the upside,” I tell myself.

Last night after yoga, I spoke my about thoughts with Kelly-Lynne and I found the positive again.  I realized how much fitter I have become in the past 6 months.   My leg strength is coming back; I can feel it when I cycle, and I can sit for longer periods of time without being in pain.  My core is firm, I can do a lowboat again and my upper body is stronger than it has been in years.  I threw myself back into the deep end when I came out of my comfort zone and started swimming.   When all things are said and done, I feel like I am in better shape than I have been in years.  So even though I still am not running and am quite unhappy about it, I can accept the delay.  If it means that my hamstrings are going to be that much stronger and I am going to be that much healthier, then I can absolutely wait a few more weeks.

Many years ago, when making a group decision at work, we voted for acceptance.  “Can you live with it?” was the question asked.  At school, I teach my students that you don’t have to always like something, but you have to be able to accept it; my Grade 7’s understand that.  Well, I do not like this time to heal and this waiting game one little bit, but I can live with it.  I have accepted it and, one day, I hope, that will make me a better athlete.