This is a similar story. It's a long one though, so strap in.
To start with, I am 55 years old, and hike 5-10 miles nearly every weekend, and during the non-winter months, I also bike between 20-30 miles, either in lieu of, or along with, my hikes. Pre-Covid, I played flag football on fall weekends, and volleyball 2 nights per week year-long. I also kayak, but not on a regular schedule, and play disc-golf. I also hadn't taken a single sick-day from work in over 20 years. I have never smoked, and drink only in moderation. Needless to say, I am a very active and healthy person, with a kick-ass immune system, and I keep myself busy. Despite all this activity, I have a typical "dad-bod" and do enjoy the occasional cheesesteak and pizza.
So, keeping this background in mind, imagine my surprise and chagrin, when, this winter, I noticed I was finding myself fatigued after only 3-4 miles. I'd start off feeling just fine, but would need to take more breathers than normal, even on flat stretches. So, after a few of these "events" I decided I should see my doctor, who found I had slightly elevated blood pressure, but all my blood work put me right square in the "normal" range in all categories. My cholesterol was only 170. So, of course, I must be fine. Hell, I'm INVINCIBLE. I likened myself to the Bruce Willis character in the movie Unbreakable. The doctor, however, referred me to a cardiologist...just in case.
So, I went to the cardiologist, feeling smug. That I would trounce this stress test like no one before. How wrong I was. I was spent only half-way through, so I was sent for a cardiac catheterization. Again, I figured on being home within an hour or so. Well, once again, I was proved wrong. The doctor spent no more that 10-15 minutes, scoping my heart, when he informed me they were prepping me for surgery, which turned out to be an open-heart triple bypass.
WHAT?!?!? How can this be? My cholesterol is low, I eat Cheerios, I'm active! All the things you are supposed to do to avoid this. Well, guess what boys and girls. It all comes down to heredity. If you are predisposed to coronary artery issues, none of that other stuff matters much. Granted, I have to say that my heart muscle itself is in great shape, and I am recuperating well ahead of what would be expected. So, the exercise and eating right (mostly) definitely counts for something. If I hadn't been doing all those things, I'd have been in the hospital much sooner, and my recovery would be much slower. As it is, I was sent home after just a few days, and am now, after only 2 weeks, feeling mostly normal.
So, for now, my hikes are limited to walks, and biking is non-existent for me, but by mid-summer, I should be back into full-swing, or close to it. Just gotta let my sternum heal up and build back my endurance. Hopefully my improved circulation will have me better off than I was before.
In closing, what I want to remind everyone, is to pay attention to those minor inconsistencies with your body, and your fitness. My arrogance almost had me ignoring the signs I was being given, but thank God I didn't. And you shouldn't either!
Thanks for taking the time to read this, and I hope maybe my message may help someone else.
Happy to hear there was a positive outcome for you! Best wishes for fast and full healing.
This is great advice for all of us to heed. Thank you for sharing!
Sincerely grateful to you for sharing your story and that you are on the road to recovery. Here's to many more years of adventuring!
Similar story here. I have been quite active, hiking, bike commuting, etc. I had been othered with occasional, intermittent dizzy spells and I was planning to mention this with my primary care MD. The day before my appointment i had a much more prolonged dizziness. He listened to my chest and set me immediately to a cardiologist. He checked me and immediately recommended an aortic valve replacement. I later learned that he considered immediate hospitalization.
The procedure was scheduled and performed with good results. I learned that I was born with a two flap valve, instead of the usual three flapper and that lifestyle, habits, etc. had nothing to do with it. Its heredity, although they checked my arteries while they had me open - "clear as a bell" was the word. Recovery was fairly normal and I resumed normal activities. Th operation occurred in 2010. Life has been pretty good ever since. Without the op, I would have passed from congestive hear failure in less than three years.
Heredity is important - choose your parents wisely but follow guidelines and a lifestyle that encourages health - no smoking, drink in moderation, exercise, cut back on red meat in favor of green veggies, etc.
It's a good idea to wear your seat belt.....
So happy to hear about your recovery. What an amazing story. Here's to many more years of hiking and enjoying life for you.
Hi everyone! First, I'd like to thank everyone for the well-wishes. It truly meant a lot to me to see the responses.
Quick update, 2 months since my surgery, and I just completed my first bike ride. 24 miles on a local rail trail (The NCR trail for anyone local to Central Maryland). It felt great to get back out there at a normal level of activity...of course, my butt had forgotten what it's like to be in the saddle for 24 miles. Gotta work on that. 😁