Today’s the day. It was exactly one year ago – a day that changed everything.
[Insert flashback effect here].
When the cardiologist walked into the room, it didn’t take long for him to diagnose. A quick glance at the heart rate monitor confirmed what I had been fearing for weeks.
“Yep. That’s AFib alright.”
I was shocked. It was a punch to the gut. I really didn’t know much about Atrial Fibrillation, but one thing I did know is that AFib is practically a death sentence to a marathon runner like myself who was aspiring to run the Boston Marathon.
After all, here it was, November 8th, 2013, and “Boston” was just six months away. And not just any Boston. This one was going to be the holy grail of all marathons. 2014 was going to be special, especially for me for a number of reasons. It was going to be my 10th and final marathon, and it was going to be very emotional for me given the tragic events from the previous year (I was stopped at the 25.8 mile mark).
And now I’m not going to be a part of it. All because of a condition where my heart decided to beat rapidly and abnormally. Shit.
And just then is when I heard the words that would change everything….
“but, Tracy… if you’re up to it, there is this one procedure I can do that might possibly take care of this…”
It was like a scene out of a sports movie. Ahh, the prospect of hope.
My cardiologist then pitched me on the concept of an electro cardioversion, a procedure where the heart is literally reset to normal rhythm. It doesn’t always work, and even when it does, it’s not guaranteed to “stick.” I underwent the cardioversion a few weeks later, and my heart was reset to normal rhythm. The anesthesiologist said that when he put me under, I had a noticeable smile on my face. And it’s obvious why.
So it’s been one year. And a lot has happened in that short time. Throughout it all, I basically earned my PhD in AFib and heart disease (or so it seems). It was a very active year — with five different medications, two cardioversions (I relapsed in late April), countless EKG’s, four half marathons, two 10K’s, an 8 miler, a triathlon relay, and one very special Boston Marathon finish.
And… as a side benefit, I fulfilled the long time goal of fully quitting caffeine. I haven’t drank one Diet Coke since that day I was diagnosed (and trust me, I used to drink A LOT).
Proudly, and surprisingly, I “PR’d” in every race except one. I chalk this up to the fact that my heart was now operating much more efficiently, plus I was taking better care of myself.
As I reflect, there’s many takeaways. But my biggest one is the following:
If you are one who enjoys an active lifestyle, AFib doesn’t mean the end. Oddly, in my case, it actually was just the beginning.