Tuesday, January 24, 2012

New Year. New Adventures.

My next post for the ACHA blog explores the exciting opportunities ahead for me in 2012. It's scheduled to be published tomorrow.

I don’t know about you, but 2012 is off to a pretty fantastic start for me! After a challenging few months at the end of 2011, I finished the year with a long, but quite successful, stent procedure (December 29). I then rang in the new year with an electrophysiology study (January 9) that came back negative, meaning that I’m not a likely candidate for getting an ICD!

Having not been on my bike since my accident back in early August, I’ve been going a little stir crazy lately. This past weekend, I decided to join my local gym, and just yesterday I met with a personal trainer for the very first time. During our introductory meeting, I knew I’d have some explaining to do about my medical information (open heart surgery at eight months, getting a stent less than a month ago, and now on a post-procedure regimen of Plavix and baby aspirin). Oh yeah—and I listed “train for a half marathon or triathlon” as one of my exercise goals. The look on the trainer’s face was priceless as I gave him the elevator speech version of my medical history and the fact that I had done multiple distance bicycling rides over the past few years. I assured him that I was feeling great, that I was under the care of excellent cardiologists, and that I would formally get their okay the next day to start an endurance training program.

As I drove to my doctor’s appointment this morning (a follow-up for my recent stent procedure), the sun was shining here in Chicago, and I was feeling good. I hadn’t had any unusual pain or discomfort post-procedure, and I was looking forward to an appointment that didn’t require a hospital gown and an IV. My two cardiologists—the director and co-director of the hospital’s ACHD program—work closely together, and both gave me a clean bill of health at today’s appointment! When I told them I was interested in training for a half marathon or a triathlon—neither of which I had done before—they just said, “Great!” I was given no physical restrictions and told that, when I come back in the summer for my 6-month checkup, they want to hear about my training. (So now I have to be accountable not only to my trainer, but to two expert ACHD cardiologists, as well: Game on!)

Over the past month or so, I have started thinking seriously about becoming certified as a personal trainer and/or a USA Cycling coach as a way to compliment my love of riding and physical activity. Today’s appointment just gave me another boost of confidence, and I expect that I will start studying for the CPT (Certified Personal Trainer) exam in the coming weeks. I even got some great tips about it from my trainer when I told him that I was thinking about pursuing the certification.

Although I didn’t make any formal New Year’s resolutions for 2012, I feel like I’ve charted a new and exciting course (no pun intended) for the rest of this year. In addition to deciding between the half marathon and the triathlon, I need to select the major cycling event (or two!) that I’ll be doing. So there are plenty of exciting adventures ahead for me this year.

As I get ready to train for these challenges ahead, I am so incredibly grateful that I can do them. As someone who—prior to this past August—hadn’t been to a cardiologist in years, I never really thought of myself as a heart patient. But the journey that I went through the last few months helped me realize how truly fortunate I am, and it has caused cycling (and other forms of physical activity) to take on a whole new meaning. I now ride not only for myself (I do love it!), but also in honor and memory of those who cannot. And I hope that one day, when I’ve become a personal trainer myself, I will have the opportunity to work with clients who want to overcome their own physical obstacles—cardiovascular or not—because it has now become a very personal matter.

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