Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Training Setback...ticker trouble (part 2)

When I last left you, dear reader - I had just received a diagnosis of atrial flutter, and was about to schedule a procedure to correct it. After numerous phone calls with the medical office, and hours of frustration and waiting, I was finally given an appointment for my procedure - September 26th.

I arrived at the hospital bright and early (as instructed) having neither eaten nor drank since midnight the night before. My clothing and belongings were taken from me, and I was given a pair of surgical scrubs to wear. I waited in the surgical waiting area from 10am until almost 7:30pm, still not allowed to eat or drink. I was finally brought into the cardiac cath lab, and a team of surgical staff descended on me, to prep me for the procedure. Electrodes were placed all over my body, wires connected, needles inserted, various body parts shaven - my last memory was the anesthesiologist promising me a cocktail that I would enjoy.

I woke up in recovery some 4.5 hours later, my first vague memory being one of physically fighting with the nursing staff, and having to be restrained. I am told (I don't actually remember this) that I repeatedly told the nursing staff that I was "So sad" and that I felt like I had been hit by a truck. I also recall begging for ice chips, receiving them, and then vomiting uproariously. I have vague memories of being transferred to a room on the cardiology floor, and given instructions not to get up or move for 6 hours.

The following morning, I was met by the surgical team, who informed me that the procedure was not successful. They wanted to try again, a week later - and prepared to discharge me with several prescriptions - and a plan to return in one week's time.

The second procedure went a lot smoother from a logistics perspective. I was admitted at 7am, and promptly brought into the surgical theater. The procedure took around 4 hours again, and I woke up in recovery, feeling a lot better than the previous time. This time, I was told that the procedure was successful and I was transferred back to the cardiology floor for bedrest and observation.

Several hours after the procedure, I was told that while the arrythmia they had set out to treat had been fixed, this time I had developed a second arryhtmia, called atrial fibrilation. I was warned that this was a possible outcome - and that the plan was to treat this arrhythmia using drugs, and allow the heart 30 days to recover from surgery, in hopes that it would naturally return to normal rhythm.

My 30 day recovery has almost ended. I am pleased to note that the arrhythmia has been kept under control with medication, however, it also makes running very challenging. One of the effects of the heart meds is to slow my heart rate - so when I am running at a pace where my heart rate should be 160, it is actually 130. The effect of this is that my body doesn't actually receive enough oxygen, and my muscles start to feel like dead weight.

I have recently returned to running, with the limitation that I must run at a pace that is appropriate for my new, lower, chemically induced maximum heart rate. It's a tough pill to swallow (ha) - but I'd rather be able to run slowly than not at all. I completed my most recent 18 mile training run, at approximately a 12 min pace (I would have normally run at a 9:30 - 10:00 pace for this distance), so I plan to move forward with my training for the marathon.

I have a pretty full calendar of long runs between now and the race, and I am optimistic about what will happen between now and then.

If you read this far, I appreciate your caring - and will keep you informed on how I progress.


Michelle said...

I read this far.....

Took a while for you to get to Part 2.

I will be cheering you on at NYCM. Until then, enjoy and cherish your running. :O)

Anonymous said...

Wow! Inspiring man! I suppose pushing ourselves like this is what keeps us going and able to deal with life on life's terms. Best of luck to you in the Marathon. I too am running on Nov.7th. It's the 1 year anniversary of my open heart surgery. I know what you're going through right now. I too was the perfect specimen of health until I had to deal with this heart nonsense. Stay strong brother.

BenjaminJC -

Anonymous said...

Wow! Inspiring story man!
Good luck in the marathon. I too was the specimen of perfect health until I was diagnosed with a heart issue in a stress test. I suppose fighting back, running, and refusing to lay down, is what makes us able to deal with life on life's terms. Good luck. Stay strong brother. I'm running the NYC Marathon on Nov. 7 too. It's on the one year anniversary of my open heart surgery!