Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Running a race

Running and I have always been closely entwined: In highschool I was a sprinter (100m and 80m hurdles), through my university days (1997-2008)I ran to stay in shape and after I had Layla I ran with the purpose of completing a 5K race (which I did - in 28:47min). Since I come from a sprinting background, nothing longer than 5K interests me - that is long enough!

Since the start of 2012, I started noticing that I couldn't run. I would go on the treadmill and be able to run for maybe 45 seconds. I tried running my 5k loop outside, and I had even less success. I couldn't believe I was that out of shape. I went to my doctor and tried to see if it was asthma, thyroid, anything that would explain this. Nothing came up....until July when I found out about the tumour that had been inside of me for who-knows-how-long.

So I thought I would write about my road to recovery and running since a lot of people seem to be shocked at how long it is taking me to recover. I keep hearing "You are young and healthy...why are you having such a hard time?" or "Maybe your pain threshold is lower" (I'm sorry....no....I had back labour with Noah and my epidural didn't work so believe me I can handle the pain). The nurses in the hospital said typically the old and young actually seem to have an easier time recovering than adults.

So on July 13th I had open heart surgery. I was home by July 18th. In the hospital they wanted you to get up and walk once you were out of the ICU (actually they had me stand in the ICU but I hardly remember this). It took me nearly 4 days before I agreed to this. Between the drugs, needing a blood transfusion and the pain I was too dizzy and loopy. I couldn't even walk to the bathroom unassisted. By July 17th they made me walk to the nursing station and I honestly thought I'd never make it. They told me it will take me 6 weeks to be able to walk 30 min's (which by the way, feels like a very long time when you are just waiting to feel better). At home I had the horrible sensation that I couldn't breathe for days. It turned out to be because i was in atrial fibrillation with a heart rate of over 170. So after getting a pacemaker on July 25th and being cardioverted a bunch of times, my last episode of fibrillation was August 6th - nearly one month after my stroke.

So the cardiac information booklet they give you says you could return to work after 6 weeks but I was nowhere NEAR able to go back to work yet.

On September 14th (2 months after surgery) I had a stress test with my cardiac rehab. I couldn't do much as I was largely inactive. They use the stress test to set a pace for you and design workouts. After the stress test they make you do one mile with the pace they set for you. I had to do one mile in 15 min's (which was the fastest pace they set for people). I can honestly say that at the end of that mile I was nearly dead. After that they had me walk 2 miles in 32 mins 5-6 x/week. It was very hard at first and my heart rate went very high (150). I had to be careful because my pacemaker has a maximum heart rate set on it (130) and I have to stay below that. I am not used to paying such close attention to my rate. I ended up returning to clinic to have it set higher (160).

My 2 mile walk is so easy now that I text and bbm during the walk but they won't increase my mileage yet. First I had to walk it faster (so now I'm at 29 min's). Do I feel like I could run? You bet. Can I do it and keep my heart rate below 160? Doubtful.

So for now, I am not allowed to run until I do another stress test. I hope to run a race next summer....

In addition to cardiac rehab I'm still in stroke rehab. He has me doing so many squats and lifting so much weight I'd better become the 5'3" version of a Victorias Secret model.