August 3, 2011: It was a beautiful summer day here in Chicago. The sun was shining, the skies were clear and blue, and it was the first day in quite a while that it wasn't oppressively hot and humid. (You gotta love the Chicago summers!) It was a good day at work, and we ended it by bidding farewell to one of our summer interns. I was looking forward to a 15-20 mile ride along the lakefront right after I got home, followed by a relaxing evening with a glass of wine and probably a movie. My ride started out like many others in the past, although this one was pretty cool because I got to cycle past Marine One, which was parked near the lakefront path while President Obama was in town. A little bit farther down the path, I passed Buckingham Fountain and was planning on turning around just past Museum Campus to head back north for the ride back home. The next thing I remember was waking up in the emergency room at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. Although I was in no pain, I was completely unaware of what had happened. Little did I know at the time that this bike ride (and the accident which ended it) would change my life and eventually lead me to start a blog about living a healthy and active life with a congenital heart defect.
February 3, 2012: As anyone who has been following this blog knows, these last six months have been filled with more challenges and confusion than I would wish on just about anyone. However, thanks to the amazing support and patience of many family members and friends, the wonderful staff at the Adult Congenital Heart Association, and the numerous doctors who cared for me, I am in such a great place today! I am not only living with congenital heart disease, I am thriving with it! Although I've always enjoyed being active, I have stepped it up a notch. Over the next six months, I plan to get into a regular routine at the gym, train for the Chicago Half Marathon (I've never done any sort of running event before.), complete at least one more distance cycling ride, and begin studying to become certified as a personal trainer through the American Council on Exercise.
They say things happen for a reason, and I believe that to be true. The bike accident I had six months ago was a much-needed wake up call for me to keep a closer eye on my heart. While I certainly don't want to go through this crazy journey again, I am grateful for what it revealed. Not only did it uncover some medical issues that needed to be addressed sooner rather than later (of which I would have otherwise had no knowledge), it also led me to the top two ACHD cardiologists at the University of Chicago Medical Center, both of whom have been nothing short of amazing. I am very fortunate and most grateful for the outcome of this wild ride!