Wednesday, May 4, 2011

A Runner's Heart

About a month or so ago, I visited a doctor that I've seen regularly for 15 years.  I'd say the guy knows me pretty well in terms of being his patient. 

He delivered all four of my kids. 

Anyway, last month he listened to me breathe and checked my heart and - in betwixt and between a myriad of things we discussed that day - he told me I had a heart murmur.

I guess most people would be sort of unsettled by that news.  Or maybe everyone. 

I was terrified.

After all ~ two of my children have heart conditions...7 open heart surgeries between them.  My father died from heart-related complications.  My brother lives with atrial fibrillation...

I honestly could go on, but I think you get the picture.  There is a long-standing family history of heart issues here.

I carried a heavy weight on my shoulders for a number of weeks.  For a while I'd been ignoring chest pains and heart flutters mostly while running but occasionally at rest.  In my defense, I'd taken 4 solid months off from any exercise, so to some extent, I could somewhat conscientiously chalk it up to getting back into shape (it's highly unfortunate how quickly one can actually get out of shape...).

Needless to say - I wasn't entirely surprised by this diagnosis.  But I was still very scared to hear the words.

I began imagining my kids without me. 

I stopped running.  Again.

I waited.  For doctors' visits, for test results, for relief from the bad news. 

I prayed.

Fortunately, good news came - relatively speaking - quickly.  The cardiologist listened to my heart.  He listened from this angle.  From that angle.  Back here.  Over there.  He sat down.

I braced myself.

"What you have is a runner's heart,"  he explained.  Through the course of several more tests, he determined that my heart is very strong, and when it beats, it pumps blood so forcefully across the valves that it causes a 'swooshing' noise that, to the untrained ear, can be construed as a murmur.  He will see me routinely based on family history to assure me that someone - with a trained ear - is listening for changes, but in the meantime, I am running again.

And since the weather is gorgeous ... at least for two days in a row ... I'm out there getting my run {back} on.

In fact, this past weekend, we traveled to Nashville for our annual Country Music Marathon (half marathon this year).  And I came away with a new personal record.  Considering I barely trained, I'm proud as a peacock at how well I did on those hills.  Only 4 minutes more to shave off and I'll be at my lifetime half-marathon goal.


... So, I guess I'll have to keep running ...

post-race:  PRs for both

Thanks to the ILs for photographing this year :)

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