Yesterday marked a very important milestone in my life… the 22nd anniversary of the last open heart surgery I had (or as I like to call it, my “surgiversary”).
22 years since they were able to give me a homograft Pulmonary valve (instead of a mechanical valve).
22 years since they told me that my new valve might only last 5-15 years.
22 years since my last major hospital stay.
Yesterday I went back to my Cardiologist for my annual checkup and I sat on pins and needles as I waited (not so patiently – sorry, mom) for my doctor to see me after reviewing my Echo-cardiogram results. When we were finally called in to see the doctor, he told me there’s been no change since my last Echo. No change. In a year!
But the joy was short lived for me. Although there’s been no change to my heart, there’s been change to my body and the way it functions… All due to the fact that I stopped working out. My Cardiologist asked me several different times if I felt like my stamina was lower because of my heart function, and that was the real reason why I stopped working out… I kept repeating to him that my heart feels fine. I feel normal… Well, about as normal as someone with Tetralogy of Fallot can feel after being repaired 3+ times.
The truth is, I’ve been lazy. Earlier this year, I had a great job that I loved. Well, maybe not *loved*, but I enjoyed it. What I loved about it was CrossFit. My former job offered CrossFit for free. Free!
I had never done CrossFit before, but when I heard that my job was going to start offering it for free to full time employees, I was excited to try it… then I realized I was a contractor, and in order to enjoy the benefits of the program, I’d have to pay a “discounted rate”. When I saw the cost, I balked. How could I possibly afford that?! Turns out, I didn’t have to worry about that long. My job hired me full time, and the next month I started CrossFit.
I started slow, as anyone with health problems should. I introduced myself to all my new coaches like this, “Hi, I’m Krista. I have a heart condition. Just a heads up, but don’t worry. I know my body and I know when to stop if I need to.” After a year of regular CrossFit workouts, I had lost weight, gotten stronger and had more stamina than I had when I was doing cardio regularly several years before. I was by no means at my “lightest weight”, but I was in the best shape of my life. More than that, I was so confident in myself. That’s something I hadn’t really felt before – or at least, not consciously.
Then life happened. I got sick with walking pneumonia and stopped going to the gym. I got better after a couple of months of misery and made a big change. I left that job for what I had assumed at the time would be a great move. Then my laziness set back in and my old insecurities started rearing their ugly heads. I stopped going to the gym. I stopped eating Paleo. I stopped caring about it.
Fast forward to today. I feel awake again. I have a game plan. I’m taking the action to right my mind by seeing a therapist (which is a whole different story.) I’m taking the action to move my career the way I need it to go. I’m taking the action to get my health back to where it was.
This story started short – as a Facebook post. As I was typing, I realized I had more to say… and more than that, I have more to prove to myself. For people like me, with heart disease, there are physical limitations. But there are also mental road blocks we put up and don’t even try to peer over. Push those mental road blocks out of the way, and anything is possible.
I can do this. You can do this.
Let’s do this!