Brian’s Guest Post: Life Beyond Heart Valve Surgery, Pulling Together a Running Team

By Adam Pick on November 21, 2013

When I joined Heart Valve Journals in September of 2012, I had really one thing in mind, “Could I continue running til surgery and after surgery would I be back to where I was at?”  In June, I was told that I needed to have surgery but decided not to fully believe that since I had no symptoms that I could see and was running 20-30 miles a week, completed a half marathon just months before and was planning a full marathon in November.


Brian Walsh
Brian & His Three Sons


Well, it came to reality in October and November when my Internal Cardiac Device (ICD) Defibrillator sent a shock through my body from my heart hitting over 180 and then 190 beats per minute.  As I reflected back on my journal entries, I remember this time too well.  This was the reality check I needed and the time I needed to talk it out with my wife to give me the peace to go ahead and get this surgery behind me.  The encouragement from this website was something I really needed as people I did not know reached out through the guestbook, provided information and I read story after story about success from others.


Brian Walsh - Former Patient & Runner
Brian 3 days after surgery, loving being photographed in my gown


Now, here I am almost 1 year from my surgery and back at full strength in my running, preparing for my first half marathon since surgery in April and trying to give back to this great community in any way I can.  I know there are many other passionate runners out here, some pre-surgery, some in recovery and many post surgery.  I already have a list of a few, Scott Newson, Mitch Friedman, Jim Jones, Peter Woglom, and John O’Neil.  Now, I want to get more and give back to the heart community as a whole, so here is the plan.

I’ve created a survey to gather feedback on race destinations, number of shirts and just willing supporters.  Since we are all over the world, I have to pick a place that is convenient for people to travel to.  The survey has a list of dates and destinations and I want to pick one that is best for everyone so the one with the most interest will be picked.  Second, I’ve got a design for a race shirt that I have posted in my journal you can find see below.

Finally, and most important, I’ve built a relationship with my local American Heart Association and would like to raise funds for them along with this effort.  No minimum, but my goal would be for the team to raise $10,000. Once we finalize a destination I will send out to all who sign up, post to my journal and plan to meet up at the destination the Friday/Saturday before the race so we can share stories and just meet each other that have provided all of us encouragement, prayers, support and so much more through these times.

Now I need this community to come together, I’ll work out all the details, but of course happy to take on volunteers that want to work with local hotels and other logistics, I just need you to let me know your interest and races you would like to do, so please complete the survey.

If you are reading this preparing for surgery and unsure of the unknown, follow the information on this site.  Adam has done a great job pulling together whatever you need and don’t hesitate to start a journal.  It is great to be able to look back on and you will be overwhelmed with the great response from family, friends and people you have never met before.

Keep on tickin!

Brian Walsh
Hellerton, Pennsylvania

Written by Adam Pick
- Patient & Website Founder

Adam Pick, Heart Valve Patient Advocate

Adam Pick is a heart valve patient and author of The Patient's Guide To Heart Valve Surgery. In 2006, Adam founded to educate and empower patients. This award-winning website has helped over 10 million people fight heart valve disease. Adam has been featured by the American Heart Association and Medical News Today.

Adam Pick is a heart valve patient and author of The Patient's Guide To Heart Valve Surgery. In 2006, Adam founded to educate and empower patients. This award-winning website has helped over 10 million people fight heart valve disease. Adam has been featured by the American Heart Association and Medical News Today.

Scott says on November 25th, 2013 at 1:55 pm

Hang in there man! I had the surgery 2001. I am totally fine!

Cheree says on November 26th, 2013 at 7:21 am

I’m having this surgery on dec.3rd , any advice you can give me thanks cheree

Jim says on January 9th, 2014 at 4:50 pm

Good comments Brian. I’m a testament to the benefits of running pre-surgery. I ran a marathon the year of my surgery and kept my miles up until about three weeks pre-AVR. I was running again after two weeks and just finished my second marathon. Good luck to you.

Jim Pattillo

Robin Howald says on January 9th, 2014 at 5:09 pm

I am a veteran marathoner waiting for my aortic valve and root surgery (1-4 years away). In past races, I have raised money for so many different charities; I would love to support one close to my heart. (Bad pun, I know.) Thank you, Brian, for this great idea. I hope it takes off.

Eileen J. Hawkins says on January 9th, 2014 at 6:06 pm

Thanks Adam,
Will look forward to your email whenever you have the time to replay. Just got my dates at Cleveland Clinic for all the pre-surgical testing, then meeting with the cardiologist they assigned to me and Dr. Eric Roselli as my surgeon for my needs of two valves and aortic root work. I was glad to navigate the website and check out the various staff and decided myself that Dr. Roselli was the right one for me. So when Becky the RN called me and told me Dr. Roselli was going to be my surgeon, that my cardiologist from TC, MI had chosen him for me, was it a coincidence that we were all on the same page?
My son and I will leave NW MI on Monday, Jan. 27 to drive down for testing on Tues., the 28th, Wed., 29th and Thurs. 30th, then meet with Dr. Roselli with his evaluation and see where we go from there for the surgery. It’s so good to have such a
data base to research and gather info. Communication is very important to me, especially since this surgery is a re-op of my previous one in Apr. 2011 at another facility which is not working out. Wishing everyone out there “good hunting” to find whatever you need to feel comfortable going forward to great outcomes.
And thank you Adam for being making yourself available to everyone. E. Hawkins

Rebecca Roberts says on January 9th, 2014 at 9:55 pm


You may recall, I live in Nazareth, and my husband and I are race directors for The Tortoise and Hare 5k in Wind Gap.
I now run just for fun, but in the past I was an avid runner, enjoying races from 5k to marathons.
I would be happy to volunteer in whatever capacity night be helpful to you.

1/5/14 was 5th anniversary of my mitral valve repair!

William Stauder says on January 15th, 2014 at 12:25 pm

I will be having surgery 01/24/14 to have my aorta valve replaced your comments help with having a positive feeling about this up and coming surgery.

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