When Couch Potatoes Sprout

It's been 1.5 weeks since my last post, and I missed being here with you. As before, I am still under injunction not to run - I am still waiting to find out how my heart is doing. So once again, this isn't really a running post.

About two weeks ago, I learned that my father has a congenital heart defect, and that I am at significant risk of this serious heart disease. My doctor ordered urgent tests and told me to "stop exercising". So two weeks into my return to C25K, I had to stop.

I was really distressed, and finding it terribly hard to cope with my anxiety, especially when I was not allowed to exercise. Terrified as I was, I took this injunction quite seriously. I even avoided semi-exercise activities, like singing, which I normally do a few hours a week (I have a concert opening this weekend). But it really bothered me. Up to that point, I was accustomed to exercising at least 20 minutes or more 6 days a week.

So I asked for, and received, permission to sing from my family doctor. I was eventually told my medical technician, who works with the cardiologist I am waiting to see, that a gentle walk or stretching or other light exercise is allowed. Thank goodness!!! Of course, I understand that running is ill-advised, or other vigorous exercise, while we ensure I am not about the have my aorta burst open. That just seems prudent.

It is so very nice to be able to walk a few minutes in the park and sit on the swings. And stretch a bit so I don't get all stiff and sore. Yesterday, when I was feeling really stressed and cranky, seeing a few trees made a difference for me.

But as I feared, the habit of daily exercise which was so difficult to cultivate (and took months of hard work) is already falling apart. This morning, after only a couple of weeks of mostly not exercising, I had to really *force* myself to do even some short, light movement. I didn't feel like it. I would rather sit on my couch again, where I can practically see the buds protuding from my couch-potato bum. I'll just sit there, curled up in a blanket and using my computer or watching TV. The good news is this: I did it anyways. Tomorrow I will move just a little again. And the next day.

Meanwhile, I am getting used to the idea of not knowing if I have a life-threatening disease. It's incredible what we humans can adapt to, isn't it? I think about it a lot still, but am at least able to think of other things as well. And no longer plagued by nightmares of collapsing alone in the shower. I still have a lot of symptoms of stress - tiredness, loss of focus, easily upset, tense muscles - but it is downgraded a few degrees to "situation livable" if not "normal".

I may actually get to run the day after tomorrow. That is my scheduled "stress test", although the med tech surprised me by saying I would be walking, not running. Probably. I guess we'll see if fast walking is enough to trigger my symptoms again, or if I need to be running. (I also have a battery of other tests underway.)

After that, I may have more information and a diagnosis. Or maybe I will be declared "fine" and allowed to return to exercising normally. That would sure be nice. We'll see. Otherwise, my couch-potato bum may actually start sprouting baby spuds.

29 Replies

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  • Hope you get on ok with your "stress test" and get some more info on what is going on,its hard the not knowing, and i have suffered badly from anxiety in the past and know how hard that condition can be .

    Well done on starting your gentle exercising, and you're still managing to have a sense of humour- sure no baby spuds will appear! :)

  • Thanks so much Ali. :)

  • Hi A! Sorry to read of your understandable distress. I felt privileged to read your thoughts and how you are managing your situation....remember potatoes can stay in a useable condition for a long time....all good wishes to you.

  • LOL. It's true, isn't it! I have had spuds pining away in the bottom of my pantry for months that turned out to be just fine, after a little judicious pruning. Here's to being a hardy potato!

  • I understand your anxiety and your frustration. I too am waiting for cardio investigations. I have always experienced palpitations but recently they've been ridiculously frequent. An ECG showed signs of a thickening of the heart muscle (a genetic condition) and I'm waiting for a 24 hour ECG and Echocardiogram. I wasn't told to avoid exercise, so I ran anyway (I'm on week 3 again after returning after surgery) but strained a calf muscle AGAIN!!!

    I hope you get the news you want, and I wish you well :-)

  • Very best of luck with your tests and condition. Scary stuff, but great that you can keep training in the meanwhile. :)

  • Really hope all goes well with the stress test and that you are soon back with us and running. Whatever the outcome, I am sure waiting and not knowing is the worst bit. Very best wishes.

  • No doubt that is true. I am glad to be getting more info.

  • Good luck with the tests. You are finding reserves of strength to deal with a worrying situation that will sustain you whatever the diagnosis. All good wishes, we're all rooting for you.

  • Bless your heart. And my heart, for that matter. Seriously, thank you for that touching reply. I hadn't looked at it quite that way.

  • Just keep looking at those trees to lift you and good luck.

  • Until I am strong enough to lift the trees!

  • Glad to see you are still posting and that you have managed to drag yourself off the couch! Keep it up! That walk around the park will help keep you mobile and in better stead to puck up on C25k again when allowed. Hope all goes well with your tests and you get some positive results .

  • So true. Even though we are a "running crowd", walking is also really great for you. One of my (many) doctors suggested that brisk walking was just as good as running - although I still want to run. In the meantime, slow not-brisk walking will at least get me out the door.

  • I can imagine the stress you must be going through waiting to find out results. Reading your post made me feel quite sad. We have a similar situation in our family on my brother in laws side and it is affecting the children so i know the affects it can have on a person or family. Lets hope you are given good news, All the best and take care.

  • Hi Care, very sorry to hear about the situation in your family, and your sadness. It is definitely true that such challenges can affect children, and that is always extra hard for everyone. Hopefully, your family and mine will be alright with manageable treatment.

  • I was wondering how you were getting on. It must feel,like a lifetime for the wait. Don't worry about the lack of enthusiasm over the last week, I am sure their are many here, me included that find it difficult when faced with a long bank holiday weekend, so I would put it down to that in your mind and start afresh with your walks. Walking can get the endorphins going just as well as running and I am sure you would appreciate a few of those at the moment. Take care.

  • Thanks Real, it does feel like a lot longer than it is to wait. Hopefully I will be so relieved with my clear diagnosis that I will be super-thrilled to run. Like a dog anticipating his W-A-L-K.

  • I'd go with walking too. It's very relaxing I find and will help take your mind off the wait

    My niece collapsed aged 34 at work, and it was found she had congenital heart disease. She had no idea. She had major heart surgery and was lucky to survive. Six years on she is running. Her Consultant says she could do a bit on the treadmill to start with, then once outside she could run but NOT HILLS. She used to run before her heart problems became known and her doc said if she had not been so fit she would not have survived. She is now a lot lighter and eats a very healthy diet, but is enjoying life.

    I hope all goes well with the tests and that you won't have to wait much longer. It must be so flippin annoying, but hang in there Al.

  • In that sense, I am very lucky - to get some warning before just collapsing. It's very scary, but almost all possible outcomes are better when it can be caught beforehand - not just in the midst of a major cardiac event. And yes, I expect I will eventually be required to get out exercising again (hurray!) so I am only putting it on hold, not giving up.

    So happy to hear that your niece is doing well. ;)

  • I hope you get the tests and the outcome soon - the waiting and worrying is hard. Keep up the gentle walking for the moment - it will help quite a lot in more ways than one. Keep looking in to this forum and posting - we will give you support. Good luck with the tests and outcome and my very best wishes to you.

  • Fitmo, your posts are just like hugs. Thanks so much.

  • Big virtual hug on its way now. Hope you are OK at the moment. Cheers.

  • I hope the tests bring good news. It's interesting to read that you had a habit of daily exercise, as it can take a long time to get any form of exercise to be habit forming. Unfortunately we often take for granted whatever health we have. Singing is a real stress buster and helps improve breathing. Alaiyo you're post will inspire people to not only look after their health but to also know that there's no time like the present to start getting fit.

  • Thanks Tiny. Wow, I hadn't thought this would be a particularly inspiring post, but how wonderful if it is! Of course I do this primarily for myself, AND I do really hope my legacy will be to inspire others toward a good life full of compassion - running or otherwise. Thanks for the suggestion that it might already be happening!

  • Delighted to read your post - I too have kept wondering how you were getting on!! Will look forward to next instalment. One day at a time!

  • Thanks Flying. One day at a time is the only way to cope sometimes, and it is a good way to be.

  • Glad to hear you can at least go walking, fingers crossed about the stress test.

  • :) ... These (running shoes) are made for walking, and that's just what they'll do!....

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