Last month, I wore a holter monitor for 21 days. I affectionately referred to it as my robot heart. Whenever I felt a particular symptom, I pushed a button on the monitor and scrolled through the lists to log the symptom and what activity I was doing when it occurred. It looked like an awkward pager with four electrodes, so I got really creative at outfits worn to hide it. I wore one of my running vests as an extra layer at work, it has lots of pockets so I was able to hide the monitor in an inner pocket. I wore thick scarves to cover the stickies on the top of my chest. At the end of the three weeks, you just stick in its prepaid box and mail it back to the company.
Last week I had a cardiologist appointment to follow up on the holter monitor and the latest echos. Both good and bad news: -my ejection fraction (this is the amount of blood or oxygenated blood or something that your heart pushes through) was measuring between 55-60%, which is almost at the 60% she wants to see (that’s normal) and higher than the 50-53% it was in the hospital (that’s too low). -the damage and thin heart wall in the lower area of my heart caused by the myocarditis is getting better. -they also discovered a have a very slight type of heart murmur, a mitral valve prolapse, which is when one of the flaps in a chamber of the heart doesn’t quite close all the way, but it’s so slight that there’s nothing to be done for it, just something to watch.
So while that sounds good, and is finally signs of healing that we’ve been looking for, the fact is that it took almost five months for that to happen. So when the doctor said she’ll see me in four months and I have to maintain the same level of rest, I was very disappointed (“disappointed” is an understatement but I’m trying to keep it together here). She said “I know it’s hard, you’re pulling at my heartstrings” and emphasized that I have to give it time to heal now or I won’t be able to get over it when I’m older, and risk a lot more complications.
I can walk up to three miles as long as I feel ok, and I can bike very easy (like, easy bike commute to church and around the neighborhood) up to three miles. No running. No swimming. No triathlons. No summer races.
I am not trying to be a whineypants, but I’ve been sort of avoiding thinking about it for the last few months, and I think I need to let myself do a little bit of grieving for the goals and the activities I had planned. Even if I am able to start doing more in four months, I won’t just be able to hop back into full-blown marathon training, so any hopes of chasing a BQ or age group points in triathlons are going to be on hold kind of indefinitely at this point.
This is getting long so I am going to wrap it up after a few more thoughts. This is a post I am going to share with a lot of running/triathlete friends so they know where I’ve gone. I’m making an effort to unfollow some groups and people on social media, temporarily, because it does sting to see my friends literally running into the sunset while I am stuck on the couch, and also because I need to make more of an effort to fill my time with other activities to help me heal instead of just pass the time until I can run again. I am still inspired by other runners, especially Master’s runners, who have been able to look back and say “that was a season I was not able to run, and I’m ok with that”. Hopefully I will be on the other side of this someday, too.