One of the thoughts that always comes to mind is why me.
Is there something that I could have done differently or in other words is it something I did in the first place.
We often look at heredity as a factor in longevity and for me my father suffered a heart attack in his 70's and is still alive at 93. My mother passed away at 89 last year from cancer and had an Aortic aneurism in her abdomen in her 70's.
One thought for me was that I had an aneurism in my descending aorta which might have caused the problem with the aortic valve. Closer look by the folks at the Cleveland Clinic is that for my size, 6 foot 6, that just might be normal for me. Hopefully when the have the hood open they can take a closer look and do some patch work if necessary.
Even earlier in this process I went through a battery of test for Marfan Sydrome. That was also brought on by my height and the fact that I am often referred to as lanky. Those test are somewhat subjective but came back negative. Once again a closer look might provide more insight.
During my Iron Man competition in Louisville Ky the swim portion was in the Ohio River and 3 months later I noticed a sore on my scalp that was later to be diagnosed as MARSA skin infection. Infections have been known to cause valve problems but we have no direct proof that was he cause even though the first indication of the murmur was noticed 5 months later.
Last but not least is the amount of endurance events I have participated in. Am I simply blowing out my valve. No one has told me to stop running but I must admit I no longer do long runs while training for a marathon. I have done so many I feel that 8 miles is far enough in preparation. I actually took two months off from all exercise after my 50th Marathon last October and I felt terrible. Still no symptoms but I seemed to obsess over my condition and was on a downward spiral mentally. January 1, I took part in a 100 day challenge where a group of us decided to exercise for at least 30 minutes each day for 100 days. The 100 days were up earlier this month but decided to keep going until the day of my operation. I had once done an entire year several years back. I feel great but I guess the answer why might not ever be answered.
I am a runner not because I run fast or sometimes not even long. I am a runner because I say that I am.
For the past 14 years I have run over 50 marathons in 34 states and 8 countries and for me to be getting open heart surgery in 2 months is a kick in the gut.
2 years ago during a routine physical my doctor first heard my heart murmur. 6 months earlier I had finished an iron man competition so this was a surprise to me since I felt I was in the best shape of my life.
I continued to do marathons usually 5 to 7 a year but did start to notice that my heart rate would get up in the upper 150's so I just started to take longer to get them done. My cardiologist would say that in 20 years or so I would need to get an operation but was not sure exactly what the operation would consist of.
As time progressed and more trips to the doctor to see how things were going the decision was made to consider an aortic valve replacement sooner than later.
The local surgeon first thought that it needed to be done right away but then decided to take a wait and see approach.
I decided to get a second opinion thru the online services the Cleveland Clinic and after getting all the test to them it was further decided I should make a trip to see them in person.
I must admit even for their size they do a fantastic job. Everyone there makes you feel like you are the only one they are going to see today. A surgeon was selected and the date is in the books.
Other had mentioned that they were told to stop exercising but so far no restrictions for me. Except for the fact that I can feel the rumble of the murmur in my chest I have no symptoms. I have one more marathon to complete in 2 weeks and crazy as it might sound I have another one planned in Berlin Germany 15 weeks after my surgery. I am very goal oriented so I am hoping having something on the schedule will help with my recuperation. Worst case I still go and watch others run the marathon.
I must admit I have seen people worst off do a a marathon so my plan is that I make it out of the hospital I will be on the starting line late September.