Friday, July 16, 2010

Telling It Like It Is

FRIDAY, JUNE 11, 2010 12:49 PM, MST
A couple of you have given me the permission that I need to go ahead and be very up front and honest about the emotional part of my journey because only through grieving can healing begin. Since being diagnosed with heart disease in September 2006 and most recently with undergoing the bypass, I have experienced every single emotion possible multiple times, simultaneously, and every which way possible. This is a disease I will have for the rest of my life unless a cure is developed. So even though I don't have any of the risk factors and my cardiologists have been telling me that I've been leading a healthy lifestyle, it didn't make me immune from heart disease. I grieve the loss of my health. 

Accumulating PR's,  All-American honors, and being a member of the U.S. Duathlon team no longer mean anything to me now because I have this disease that has turned my life upside down. I can't help but wonder if all those hundreds of thousands of hours of training, the two knee surgeries from running 70 mile weeks, the countless number of other injuries I've rehabbed, and the numerous sacrifices I've made along the way....was it all worth while? The benefits from being an athlete and leading such a physical lifestyle are that I became so in tune with my body that it literally saved my life half-a-dozen times, my heart is such a strong muscle, and my body was like a well-tuned car that has helped ward off any other physical conditions that could have easily developed along the way. All of the awards and t-shirts are now just icing on the cake. How I would long to be free of this disease. 

I'm pretty angry and upset that I have this disease and more frustrated that I had multiple incidents of in-stent restenosis (blockage/scarring of the stents) in such a short period of time that it lead to having a bypass! And through no fault of my own! Cardiac research is still trying to find an answer as to why some people develop in-stent restenosis while most can tolerate a stent(s) and go many years symptom free. Researchers didn't come up with an answer in time to help me. 

Even though I recognize that kids are resilient, I get teary-eyed when I think of Katrina and Kyle because I can see the sadness and worry in their eyes. This isn't just about my disease, but the loss of their only aunt to cancer, and the loss of their family unit. Katrina said it herself in her speech at the Heart Association luncheon:  it's difficult having a mom with heart disease because she's always tired. Here's an 11-year-old who has grown accustomed to going to the track with her mom, running (and sometimes keeping up) with the adults and being part of a healthy lifestyle and then it's pulled out from underneath her because the healthiest female figure in her life developed heart disease: the number one killer of women! How absolutely crazy is that? 

Out of necessity, my life has become very simplified. I'm still not driving, I can't do any lifting, I become very fatigued quickly, and I've learned more about home decorating from the HGTV channel than I'll probably ever put to use. I'm waiting to hear from my cardiothorasic surgeon because I've been having spells of dizziness and lightheadedness that may be related to a blood pressure med I'm taking. You may recall that my BP dropped quite low while in the hospital and it now hovers around 100/60. 

In the months just prior to Lisa's death, she gave me some glass candle holders that she made with the inscriptions: "You are a survivor," and "You are my inspiration" I know like so many other times in my life, I will get through this because I have to prove to Lisa that once again, I am a survivor! 

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