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2013-08-01 10:08 AM

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Subject: Open Heart Surgery to Half Tri in 1 year
I figured I'd share my story with all here as my first post.

On September 17th, 2012 I underwent open heart surgery at UPenn. Needless to say, this sucked. And sucked bad. However after deciding to not let it get me down I stayed hooah and kept moving with the recovery. (I'm not familiar with this forum on how to embed pics but you can see some on my site provided below)

On March 17th (6 month anniversary) I completed a marathon as a fund raiser for the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and raised almost $4,000.


This September for my one year anniversary of the operation I'll compete in the Outerbanks half Tri as a fund raiser for "Lead The Way, Inc" which is a foundation that benefits disabled US Army Rangers & their families.

If anyone here is interested in supporting this the ability to donate is available on my site (donations never go through me, they link directly to Lead The Way's site) Any and all contributions are highly appreciated!

www.motivatedheart.com




To get back on the topic of Triathlons for this site I'll provide some quick cliff notes on my prep...

-I've only mountain biked in the past so just picked up some road tires and put them on my Trek 6000.
-Hopefully the serious Triathloners don't laugh at me as they fly past
-I've never swam "laps" in my life but just started this past week. 4 workouts so far, this morning I managed to hit 1 mile total with minimal breaks.
-Primary efforts so far have been watching youtube videos of form for swimming in open water and try to mimic that in the pool
-that's all i got


questions - comments or general merry making... fire away.


2013-08-01 11:02 AM
in reply to: gruntermcbride

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Subject: RE: Open Heart Surgery to Half Tri in 1 year

Welcome to BT and congratulations on your recovery and your accomplishments to date.

I had open heart surgery in December 2000, to get a mechanical aortic valve.  Did my first triathlon just over three years later in February 2004, just about the time I joined BT.

I was fortunate that both my cardiologist and PCP were supportive of my triathlon training, though it took my family a little longer to get on board.

You're right, it does suck getting your chest cut open; it's a lot of trauma for your body to deal with.  Like many other open heart patients I also suffered from some bouts of depression for quite a while afterwards.  But as they say, it's better than the alternative.   With the benefit of having my surgery 12-1/2 years behind me, I can say it gets better over time.    

I know other heart patients, including some here on BT, who have completed IM's. 

Best advice I can offer at this point is to be consistent in your training, but not to overdo things.  Although I felt "functional" within a couple months of my surgery, it took 9-12 months before I felt I really re-gained my stamina.  I overdid things a few times and then paid the price for a few days afterwards.

Again, welcome and good luck.

Mark

 

2013-08-01 11:28 AM
in reply to: gruntermcbride

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Subject: RE: Open Heart Surgery to Half Tri in 1 year
Good for you and best of luck! CHOP is an amazing place so well done on the charity side. I hope you do as well for the Rangers.

If you are comfortable learning from videos and quick to pick it up check out swimsmooth.com. Very helpful stuff there.
2013-08-01 3:34 PM
in reply to: RedCorvette

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Subject: RE: Open Heart Surgery to Half Tri in 1 year
Originally posted by RedCorvette

Welcome to BT and congratulations on your recovery and your accomplishments to date.

I had open heart surgery in December 2000, to get a mechanical aortic valve.  Did my first triathlon just over three years later in February 2004, just about the time I joined BT.

I was fortunate that both my cardiologist and PCP were supportive of my triathlon training, though it took my family a little longer to get on board.

You're right, it does suck getting your chest cut open; it's a lot of trauma for your body to deal with.  Like many other open heart patients I also suffered from some bouts of depression for quite a while afterwards.  But as they say, it's better than the alternative.   With the benefit of having my surgery 12-1/2 years behind me, I can say it gets better over time.    

I know other heart patients, including some here on BT, who have completed IM's. 

Best advice I can offer at this point is to be consistent in your training, but not to overdo things.  Although I felt "functional" within a couple months of my surgery, it took 9-12 months before I felt I really re-gained my stamina.  I overdid things a few times and then paid the price for a few days afterwards.

Again, welcome and good luck.

Mark

 





Thanks! Good to hear even after several years of the Tin Man valves you're competing in Tri's. That gives me solid motivation!

Side note - do you have an extremely loud ticking with your mechanical valve?

i feel fully recovered for the most part except certain movements such as pull ups and dips - both of those destroy my rib cage with pain... yet bench pressing feels absolutely fine..... none the less, getting better every day.
2013-08-01 5:04 PM
in reply to: gruntermcbride

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Subject: RE: Open Heart Surgery to Half Tri in 1 year
This is great news and very inspiring!

I am also back to endurance sports after "open heart surgery." But in my case, it was a dose of humility to find myself a lot slower than I was before my health deteriorated and surgery was indicated. I now fully understand that the individual circumstances leading up to heart surgery, the nature of the surgery itself, and then the burden of medications, make each recovery a unique story.

There are no large scale studies, and my doctors remind me that there is not much advice (based on hard facts) that they can give me.

On my last visit to the cardiologist, my doctor told me "Out of the thousands of patients I have seen in my career, you are the only person I have ever specifically told to exercise LESS."

I did recently PR a two mile open water swim race, But most importantly I felt great the whole way and came out of the water with plenty of fuel in the tank.

My own goal is no longer a distance or an event, I just want to still be doing this kind of stuff 10+ years from now,

2013-08-01 6:01 PM
in reply to: gruntermcbride

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Subject: RE: Open Heart Surgery to Half Tri in 1 year

Originally posted by gruntermcbride
Thanks! Good to hear even after several years of the Tin Man valves you're competing in Tri's. That gives me solid motivation! Side note - do you have an extremely loud ticking with your mechanical valve? i feel fully recovered for the most part except certain movements such as pull ups and dips - both of those destroy my rib cage with pain... yet bench pressing feels absolutely fine..... none the less, getting better every day.

 

The ticking of my valve was noticable at first; it sounded like an old Timex watch.  As my chest healed over time it became less so, I really have to focus in order to hear it now.

I was back at the gym within three months post-op.  The only thing that really bothered me were machines like rowing machines where you put your chest up against a pad.  My incision was still sore and the stainless steel clips holding my sternum together hurt when I put pressure on them.

Mark 



2013-08-01 7:46 PM
in reply to: JohnP_NY

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Subject: RE: Open Heart Surgery to Half Tri in 1 year
Originally posted by JohnP_NY

This is great news and very inspiring!

I am also back to endurance sports after "open heart surgery." But in my case, it was a dose of humility to find myself a lot slower than I was before my health deteriorated and surgery was indicated. I now fully understand that the individual circumstances leading up to heart surgery, the nature of the surgery itself, and then the burden of medications, make each recovery a unique story.

There are no large scale studies, and my doctors remind me that there is not much advice (based on hard facts) that they can give me.

On my last visit to the cardiologist, my doctor told me "Out of the thousands of patients I have seen in my career, you are the only person I have ever specifically told to exercise LESS."

I did recently PR a two mile open water swim race, But most importantly I felt great the whole way and came out of the water with plenty of fuel in the tank.

My own goal is no longer a distance or an event, I just want to still be doing this kind of stuff 10+ years from now,




it's nice to see the zipper club can keep an over active life style!

with what you're able to do i'd be surprised if you can't keep at it 10 years from now.
2013-08-02 9:03 AM
in reply to: gruntermcbride


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Subject: RE: Open Heart Surgery to Half Tri in 1 year
Congrats on surgery outcome, and good luck with your training! Mitral valve repair and Maze 2011, here. Haven't done more than a few HMs and sprint tris since (had a retinal detachment last August, which messed up some OLY plans), but hoping to do an OLY in a few months. What was your procedure? New valve? Are you on Coumadin/warfarin? That introduces some additional issues/concerns. Take it as it comes. My surgeon suggested that RPE is probably best guide for activity. I hope to do another HIM again - but not this year. I am a MOP guy (9/18 in 55-59 AG in recent sprint); just glad to be out there!
2013-08-03 12:42 AM
in reply to: jbrookscga78

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Subject: RE: Open Heart Surgery to Half Tri in 1 year
Originally posted by jbrookscga78

Congrats on surgery outcome, and good luck with your training! Mitral valve repair and Maze 2011, here. Haven't done more than a few HMs and sprint tris since (had a retinal detachment last August, which messed up some OLY plans), but hoping to do an OLY in a few months. What was your procedure? New valve? Are you on Coumadin/warfarin? That introduces some additional issues/concerns. Take it as it comes. My surgeon suggested that RPE is probably best guide for activity. I hope to do another HIM again - but not this year. I am a MOP guy (9/18 in 55-59 AG in recent sprint); just glad to be out there!


Glad to hear you're back to an active life after a 2011 op! I'm still amazed we're all still alive after the docs stop the hearts to play repair man let alone being this active. and it sounds like day one of the Army with these acronyms, hah! What is OLY, RPE and MOP?

quick answers though:
-replaced my aortic valve and aorta with mechanicals
-yes on coumadin. After 6 months I FINALLY was given the at home blood kit so I can just test my own INR levels each week which really helps
-I haven't noticed any problems with this other than I bruise a bit more.
-also still on Linsinipril which is a blood pressure med, but they're using it on me with the goal to help shrink my heart to a "normal" size
-I always train before I take it each day since my blood pressure is normally low, so with the meds it's about 95/60ish and i'm fairly dizzy whenever changing elevations... it sounds like it's doing it's job though so i'm not complaining.

Good luck on your continued training!
2013-08-03 5:44 AM
in reply to: gruntermcbride

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Subject: RE: Open Heart Surgery to Half Tri in 1 year

Congratulations on a successful surgery and good luck on your tri/fitness journey. It sounds like you have several terrific organizations to keep you motivated.  You may also be familiar with CardiacAthletes. If not, it could be worth checking them out as an additional resource.   

http://www.cardiacathletes.com/

Good luck on your half this fall!!

2013-08-03 8:34 AM
in reply to: gruntermcbride

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Subject: RE: Open Heart Surgery to Half Tri in 1 year

Originally posted by gruntermcbride  What is OLY, RPE and MOP? 

OLY = Olympic Distance Triathlon

RPE = Rate of Perceived Exertion

MOP = Middle of Pack

I've been on Coumadin since my surgery over 12 years ago and have not had any major issues.  The biggest inconvenience has been doing a Lovenox bridge when I have had colonoscopies.

I had developed some enlargement of my left ventricle prior to my surgery, but fortunately it reversed itself within 18 months after getting my new valve.  I also had significant decreases in both my resting HR an blood pressure after a couple of years.  My HR dropped from the low 70's to the low 40's, and my BP dropped from being pre-hypertensive to an average of 118/60.

 



2013-08-03 8:58 AM
in reply to: gruntermcbride

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Subject: RE: Open Heart Surgery to Half Tri in 1 year
Originally posted by gruntermcbride

I figured I'd share my story with all here as my first post.

On September 17th, 2012 I underwent open heart surgery at UPenn. Needless to say, this sucked. And sucked bad. However after deciding to not let it get me down I stayed hooah and kept moving with the recovery. (I'm not familiar with this forum on how to embed pics but you can see some on my site provided below)

On March 17th (6 month anniversary) I completed a marathon as a fund raiser for the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and raised almost $4,000.


This September for my one year anniversary of the operation I'll compete in the Outerbanks half Tri as a fund raiser for "Lead The Way, Inc" which is a foundation that benefits disabled US Army Rangers & their families.

If anyone here is interested in supporting this the ability to donate is available on my site (donations never go through me, they link directly to Lead The Way's site) Any and all contributions are highly appreciated!

www.motivatedheart.com




To get back on the topic of Triathlons for this site I'll provide some quick cliff notes on my prep...

-I've only mountain biked in the past so just picked up some road tires and put them on my Trek 6000.
-Hopefully the serious Triathloners don't laugh at me as they fly past
-I've never swam "laps" in my life but just started this past week. 4 workouts so far, this morning I managed to hit 1 mile total with minimal breaks.
-Primary efforts so far have been watching youtube videos of form for swimming in open water and try to mimic that in the pool
-that's all i got


questions - comments or general merry making... fire away.


What a great success story, very motivational. Glad you're feeling strong and living life to the fullest. If you're in the Philly area and ever want a biking partner, I'd be honored.
2013-08-03 11:28 AM
in reply to: BrianRunsPhilly

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Subject: RE: Open Heart Surgery to Half Tri in 1 year

That's amazing!

 

Congrats on the marathon and good luck with the tri


Is that your little one in your avatar? Adorable!

2013-08-03 5:52 PM
in reply to: trishie

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Subject: RE: Open Heart Surgery to Half Tri in 1 year
Had my ticker installed 4 mounts ago on just started getting back on the bike. Maybe we should start a forum for the guys and girls with shall we say, enhanced tickers.
2013-08-03 6:23 PM
in reply to: kocourek

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Subject: RE: Open Heart Surgery to Half Tri in 1 year
Originally posted by kocourek

Had my ticker installed 4 mounts ago on just started getting back on the bike. Maybe we should start a forum for the guys and girls with shall we say, enhanced tickers.


I work at CV-ICU. Mechanical Valves are getting popular. I believe they are alot better than Bovine or Swine. I feel bad for valve repair/replacement patients its not your fault its just the nature of the heart.It is a congenital heart incident. It can happen to a new born up to the most healthy athlete. The ones i feel sorry for are the Coronary Artery Bypass Graft patients, they could have taken care of themselves before the blockage happened. Working with CV patients is what got me into the sport and honestly scares the hell out of me.I am glad you all guys are taking of your selves really well. There are those who have not learned their lesson yet and take their BP for granted.

My heart goes to all of you above.

2013-08-03 8:54 PM
in reply to: BrianRunsPhilly

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Subject: RE: Open Heart Surgery to Half Tri in 1 year
Originally posted by BrianRunsPhilly
If you're in the Philly area and ever want a biking partner, I'd be honored.


I could use some practice on the bike being used on a road. My experience has all been flying down rocks in the mountains of AZ and PA. I live about a minute from French Creek State Park.


2013-08-03 8:59 PM
in reply to: kocourek

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Subject: RE: Open Heart Surgery to Half Tri in 1 year
Originally posted by kocourek

Had my ticker installed 4 mounts ago on just started getting back on the bike. Maybe we should start a forum for the guys and girls with shall we say, enhanced tickers.


I'd join this club.

Have you done or are you doing cardiac rehab?

I went for about 3 weeks until I stopped showing up. I just wanted to hear them say my heart wasn't about to explode when i started to move. Once I got that nod my confidence multiplied substantially and I just went back to training on my own (just cardio) - weights still killed me at the 3-4 month mark.
2013-08-03 9:42 PM
in reply to: gruntermcbride

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Subject: RE: Open Heart Surgery to Half Tri in 1 year
Your post reminded me of a book I read about a year ago, you should be aware of.

http://www.amazon.com/Iron-Heart-True-Story-Came/dp/1616083603/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1375583920&sr=1-1&keywords=Iron+heart+triathlon

and perhaps this is a group you may want to hook up with, http://ironheartfoundation.org/ironheartracing/

2013-08-03 9:45 PM
in reply to: gruntermcbride

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Subject: RE: Open Heart Surgery to Half Tri in 1 year
Originally posted by gruntermcbride

Originally posted by BrianRunsPhilly
If you're in the Philly area and ever want a biking partner, I'd be honored.


I could use some practice on the bike being used on a road. My experience has all been flying down rocks in the mountains of AZ and PA. I live about a minute from French Creek State Park.

Yeah I tried that once with my brother-in-law and it was brutal. He's a hard core mountain biker. I think he hurt me on purpose after I took him out on the road. We agree to disagree when it comes to cycling.

I did the French Creek Iron Tour this year, really well run and great roads. And lots of hills! We should definitely meet up at the park and bike sometime.

2013-08-04 1:03 AM
in reply to: BrianRunsPhilly

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Subject: RE: Open Heart Surgery to Half Tri in 1 year
At the moment, 4 months in, I am doing light weights twice a week. About the same as I did for my HIM, so nothing really heavier than 30 kg but 2 sets of15 reps. Lots of core work, as my stomach muscles took a pounding during the op. Then I do brisk walks,(my chest still hurts when I run) Bike at the moment seems to be the best way to get some cardio in, on a flat course as the cardiologist told me not to overdo things ( been with the guy for 10 years as this was very much a controlled breakdown)
2013-08-05 7:30 AM
in reply to: TheClaaaw

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Subject: RE: Open Heart Surgery to Half Tri in 1 year
Originally posted by TheClaaaw

Your post reminded me of a book I read about a year ago, you should be aware of.

http://www.amazon.com/Iron-Heart-True-Story-Came/dp/1616083603/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1375583920&sr=1-1&keywords=Iron+heart+triathlon

and perhaps this is a group you may want to hook up with, http://ironheartfoundation.org/ironheartracing/



i just checked this out and it seems like a solid group of people. i may have to join up and sport the pig shirt on some runs haha. thx!


2013-08-05 1:16 PM
in reply to: gruntermcbride

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Subject: RE: Open Heart Surgery to Half Tri in 1 year
Originally posted by gruntermcbride

Originally posted by kocourek

Had my ticker installed 4 mounts ago on just started getting back on the bike. Maybe we should start a forum for the guys and girls with shall we say, enhanced tickers.


I'd join this club.

Have you done or are you doing cardiac rehab?

I went for about 3 weeks until I stopped showing up. I just wanted to hear them say my heart wasn't about to explode when i started to move. Once I got that nod my confidence multiplied substantially and I just went back to training on my own (just cardio) - weights still killed me at the 3-4 month mark.



Cardiac rehab was pretty cool. I did mine at NY Pres in Manhattan. I go in there thinking I'd get an easy workout with the rest of the patients, most of whom seemed like they were exercising for the first time. The medical instructor said, "Oh, not for you, we have a special program just for you, get on that machine over there, and turn it up and lets see what you can do..." Half hour later I was a sweaty mess. So these workouts turned out to be as intense as anything i did at the gym. They actually taught me quite a lot about exercise physiology.
2013-08-09 6:39 AM
in reply to: JohnP_NY

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Subject: RE: Open Heart Surgery to Half Tri in 1 year
Originally posted by JohnP_NY

Cardiac rehab was pretty cool. I did mine at NY Pres in Manhattan. I go in there thinking I'd get an easy workout with the rest of the patients, most of whom seemed like they were exercising for the first time. The medical instructor said, "Oh, not for you, we have a special program just for you, get on that machine over there, and turn it up and lets see what you can do..." Half hour later I was a sweaty mess. So these workouts turned out to be as intense as anything i did at the gym. They actually taught me quite a lot about exercise physiology.


For mine I wouldn't say it was intense at all. Very calm and controlled - but obviously so as it was the first time I attempted to get my HR over 100 BPM after becoming the tin man. mostly a warm up walk on a treadmil, some stationary bike work, and the arms spinning machine used in Rocky IV. anytime i gave it some extra hooah the docs raised their hand to have me cool off a little since they didn't want my HR up too high too fast.

3 weeks of this and I felt confident that the valve and surgery were safe and went on to do my own thing. now i train to get my HR to near max and it just feels like there a jack rabbit running inside my rib cage but i got used to that too

I did get optical migraines frequently shortly after working out for my first several weeks of exercising - did you or any other heart op member on this forum go through those? They were quite the pain.
2013-08-09 7:49 AM
in reply to: gruntermcbride

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Subject: RE: Open Heart Surgery to Half Tri in 1 year

Originally posted by gruntermcbride
Originally posted by JohnP_NY Cardiac rehab was pretty cool. I did mine at NY Pres in Manhattan. I go in there thinking I'd get an easy workout with the rest of the patients, most of whom seemed like they were exercising for the first time. The medical instructor said, "Oh, not for you, we have a special program just for you, get on that machine over there, and turn it up and lets see what you can do..." Half hour later I was a sweaty mess. So these workouts turned out to be as intense as anything i did at the gym. They actually taught me quite a lot about exercise physiology.
For mine I wouldn't say it was intense at all. Very calm and controlled - but obviously so as it was the first time I attempted to get my HR over 100 BPM after becoming the tin man. mostly a warm up walk on a treadmil, some stationary bike work, and the arms spinning machine used in Rocky IV. anytime i gave it some extra hooah the docs raised their hand to have me cool off a little since they didn't want my HR up too high too fast. 3 weeks of this and I felt confident that the valve and surgery were safe and went on to do my own thing. now i train to get my HR to near max and it just feels like there a jack rabbit running inside my rib cage but i got used to that too I did get optical migraines frequently shortly after working out for my first several weeks of exercising - did you or any other heart op member on this forum go through those? They were quite the pain.

I experienced an increasing frequency of optical migraines prior to my surgery, typically after any type of exertion or exercise.  They got to be very annoying.  Since my surgery they've become very rare, maybe a couple a year, with no obvious trigger.

As far as cardiac rehab, I was a gym rat prior to my surgery and my cardiologist told me that rehab would be a waste of time & money, so I didn't do it.  He did ask me to stop lifting heavy weights and doing sets where I lifted to failure.  Instead he asked me to switch to high reps with moderate weights - which is pretty much what I've been doing ever since.

He also suggested that I do more aerobic exercise - as much as I could handle.  That's what eventually led me to triathlon and BT nearly ten years ago.

Finally, FWIW, just had my regular Coumadin lab test this morning:  INR was 3.1, which is right in the middle of my 2.3-3.5 target range.  Will stay in 5mg/day and go back in six weeks.

Mark

 

2013-08-09 3:41 PM
in reply to: RedCorvette

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Subject: RE: Open Heart Surgery to Half Tri in 1 year
I must say I am a lot in this thread in the past few days. Still feeling my way around this new valve of mine. I prefer doing a bit of work on the bike as I feel I can control my HR the easiest there. I must say I cannot wait for the day when I can just get on the bike and hammer away
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