So, chums, a quick quiz. What do Lucille Ball, George C Scott, John Ritter, Albert Einstein, many many more famous folk, and my grandfather have in common?
They all died from Aortic Aneurysm rupture. Not a pleasant way to go but quick, sudden and almost always without warning or prior detection. It’s where the walls of the main artery leaving the heart is enlarged to the point of bursting, and when it blows, theres not much that can be done, unless a crack team of cardiothoracic surgeons are standing by.
So you can imagine my delight when after having high blood pressure, the doctor suggested an echocardiogram. Thats an up close and personal kind of procedure at the best of times, but when the operator says your aorta looks on the big side, whilst practically straddling you, I’m sure the poor soul felt my horror first hand.
I remembered straight away my grandmother telling me how my grandad had died suddenly from an aneurism, and he was only in his fifties. He never got to see my mum get married, or meet any of his grand kids. The horror I felt was real. Same age as me, and now I have the same thing……
Thus began a nightmare four weeks. Every burp or slight indigestion pain was of course the aneurism resecting, and my last few minutes on this mortal coil. Every muscle pain or cramp was the grim reaper calling me up. And Dr Google refused to take my calls. his search engines were jammed with me looking up all possible cures, causes and consequences, none of which were terribly favourable.
So I decided to get a decent GP and talk through it. He was very nice but non committal and referred me to a cardiologist. The very thought – I don’t need/want a cardiologist – I have bucket lists to conquer, not buckets to kick. So I waited for an appointment in the Godforsaken desert location I live in, and none came. So I called his rooms and went privately.
Dr Bejasus (or something like that) was just lovely. Listened intently to my ramblings about death from wind pain, and my impending mortality fears, looked me straight in the eye and said “you’re not going to die”.
Dr Bejasus, I love you dearly. He went on to tell me that my measly 4.1 cm enlargement was nothing to worry about, we just need to keep the blood pressure down and all shall be well. His golden rule for panic and scalpel wielding is 5.5 cm. Obviously we have no idea how quick, if at all, mine will/is growing, but by all accounts I have a while longer to torture my nearest and dearest.
There were a few more high points to the consultation:
1. He didn’t laugh when I told him I was training for a triathlon. In fact he said competitive and even olympic athletes have been known to have low level aortic enlargement.
2. He practically begged me to continue training!!
3. He reckons that since I’ve lost 7 kilos and train 5 – 6 days per week, it has saved me from having two new medications being prescribed- I wont need beta blockers or cholesterol meds
4. He is dropping my blood pressure tablets back to a more suitable dose for those athletic types like me!!!!
So there it is. A brush with my mortality, many tears, and ultimately more resolve to continue this journey.
Sorry for not updating sooner, but I wouldn’t have been my normal witty self, and refuse to use this log to moan and whine!!
So, I have signed up for another 9 weeks with my trainers. I hope they will take me back once I tell them about these developments, but even if not, I am still aiming for the Dirt and Dust in early April.
Stay tuned, this is going to get even more exciting, not there are higher stakes – I have to exercise or its more medication for me. And I’m more determined to share and spread the word that anything is possible, and age is just a number.