Taking life for granted

I’m starting up a new topic here on my blog as it seems I cannot ride for a while.

My family history with heart disease is significant. My maternal grand father died from cardiac issues aged 49.

My father had a five way bypass aged 51, my mother a three way bypass aged about 53.

I turned 60 a few weeks ago.

About 15 years ago calcifications were noted on my left coronary artery. An incidental finding from a lung imaging test. I saw an interventional cardiologist who said ‘you look too healthy, keep cholesterol low and goodbye”.

For 14 years I had tests every two years with a Launceston cardiologist. The stress test I treated as a personal challenge. I would ask what I scored last time, ensure I went further, and would be told that I was the fittest patient he’d had in six months.

I decided to change cardiologists. Good move.

After pushing to have a cardiac angiogram, where they use a contrasting dye, I have received news that has shocked me.

I have advanced coronary artery disease. They are in bad shape.

The radiologist was a gem. He rang me tonight and talked to me for over 30 minutes. He told me he knew me. He is a zwifter and rode in an event I was leading last week.

He has met with my cardiologist and they reviewed my results together this afternoon . There is a plan it seems.

Before I got this news, I hopped onto my bike and started peddling. The cardiologists rooms rang and told me to get off the bike. I cannot raise my heart rate.

This news stresses my heart. Exercise is my self treatment for anxiety.

Right now my health is number one. I need to nail this!!

I intend to diarise my journey. Not for sympathy but to encourage others to get this test, and to watch my rehab as encouragement.

Tony and I purchased our grave plot only two months ago. I do not intend to use it yet, and hope that the planned treatment is swift and successful.

The crazy part about this test is that there is no Medicare rebate unless you have chest pain. I have had no chest pain. I have no shortness of breathe. Yet the test has shown results that left untreated will kill me before I am ready to check out.

My motivation for this test was another zwifter, Andrew S. A fit and healthy guy who was heading to Scandinavia to ride, but collapsed whilst talking to his wife in the kitchen. She saved him with cpr and a few days later he had open heart surgery. Two months later he is back zwifting, and I note today rode 50 km.

He told me after his cardiac arrest, get this test given my family history.

I did and now I face major treatment fairly shortly that will hopefully save me before I have a significant cardiac event.

I am scared. I am motivated too as I have a long bucket list.

Get you heart checked out!

Love and hugs


34 thoughts on “Taking life for granted

  1. Ali Fairley

    Oh my word Sharron! what shocking news! If anyone can nail this, you can! You have the courage and determination to beat this – I know you will.
    Love and huge hugs xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My heart goes out to you Sharron, thank you for sharing so openly and honestly. Wishing you a recovery journey that takes you back to your previous strength, and all the growth this process can offer


      1. Thanks Steve – more of a shock given my fitness levels but hard to bypass genetics….you need to deal with the hand that has been dealt – you can change other potential contributing factors, but you cannot change genetics.


  2. Paul

    Hi Sharron
    I like you are fit and have regular stress tests etc
    With a history of family heart disease, after reading your story , I will now get an angiogram

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Really sorry to hear that – your recent European cycling trip just underlines how these things can lurk beneath the surface. I’m so glad it’s been discovered and am confident that you’ll kick its ar*e.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dianne

      Hi Sharon, I can only empathise with how you are feeling. Looking after yourself is a priority. You are right life is short & you have been fortunate to get a heads up something is amiss. All the very best in your recovery, hope to meet you again on the road in NZ ❤


  4. Shocked to read this, Sharron, but I hope and expect you will overcome it and be back doing what you love in no time, with the usual determination you show in all your amazing efforts. Thank you for being so open, and so helping others to be aware of the importance of earliest possible diagnosis and treatment. Forza!!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Neil H

    Hi Sharon.
    Many years ago, I did a stint of nursing in the Angio ward at Epworth Richmond in Melb. I recall talking to a few patients who were cycling enthusiasts They too, were shocked to learn their diagnosis and would tell me ‘but I cycle every day or so far every week’ and couldn’t believe what they were in hospital for stents etc.

    I wish you all the best, and upon recovery, enjoy those QOM’s with reduced oxygen deficit.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Oh Sharron, how fortuitous that you got that test when you did! You are so fit, your recovery from the treatment will go well and you will be cycling again before you know it. Sending so many hugs and well wishes. You are going to be ok!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. David Hutchinson

    So sorry to hear of your medical issue Sharron. I also have a medical complaint and believe that my continued cycling helps me, even if it is just to cope with the treatment and to prepare for what is ahead.

    I wish you all the best. I have just completed a Scotland to Cornwall tour and your efforts and achievements in the past have, in part, been an inspiration to do what I do.

    People tell me that my fitness and mental attitude provides a positive approach to my particular condition. If this is true, then you are in good stead to manage your issues and come out on top.

    Once again, all the best for your upcoming treatments.



    Liked by 1 person

  8. Jeff Rooney

    In a messed up way, one positive is that you got your trip in before finding out this news. You now have more good memories of what you love doing, and the added goal to be able to continue that journey. Best wishes for showing this thing who’s boss.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. CR

    Wow. So sorry to read this, but very pleased it’s been discovered. You overcome everything you face so I have no doubt you got this too. I even think there’s a badge! Best wishes and if you need anything just shout. Stay positive QoM!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. JJ

    This is unbelievable news Sharron…but you’ve got this! It’s good that they found this early and you have a treatment plan. Stay strong, stay positive and you will be back riding. Thanks for sharing your story. We are all cheering for you and wish you a speedy recovery! Sending lots of love. xxx

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Geez that was not the story I was expecting to see when I read your post just now. You must be feeling pretty low receiving that news, but with your words in this post and the determination you have, this is a challenge you will meet and exceed and it won’t be long before you are peddling again. I know exercise is about heart rate, but can you do things that are more gentle which will make you feel good, but can be done at a pace that you can control easier, ie swimming laps or just walking on the flat? I will follow your journey with interest and glad you are sharing your story. Also pleased this news came after your wonderful trip and not during it…. Sounds like a guardian angel is with you. Anyway take care. You have got this!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. No exercise permitted…nothing that will raise my heart rate. Wtf, this stress is. I feel the tick, tick, ticking of a bloody time bomb…..hopefully treatment will start quickly after Tue…..


  12. Sophie Nightingale

    Gosh Sharron, so sorry to hear your news. Very glad that you got tested (and could pay for the test). You will have the amazing memories from your trip to help you through this difficult time. I’ve no doubt you will get through this – and hundreds of Zwifters will await your return. Thanks for highlighting cardiac disease, especially now as covid affects the heart too.. Kia Kaha (stay strong)

    Liked by 1 person

  13. jillseeman21

    Sharon Oh My Goodness. So glad you listened to your instincts and had the test. You are one of the strongest women I know and look forward to reading and supporting your journey to recovery. I so look forward to riding that first Zwift ride with you and your HEALTHY heart! Be strong, be powerful, and ALWAYS be positive. You will beat this!! Very proud of you!!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Holy crap! Better to catch it than have it catch you though I guess. Having recently hit a “milestone” birthday myself and coming from a family history of cardiac issues, this has prompted me to go to my GP and get some checks done. Wishing you all the best! K.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. fentbaby

      I feel for you. I’m glad you’re getting everything checked out and I wish you the best in all your treatments. Sending healing vibes your way and I hope to see you soon on a Zwift ride. It takes a lot of guts and determination to go through this and I’m sure you’ll keep on fighting. Cheers to you and you’re amazing attitude.


  15. Brad Martens

    Wishing you all the best as you navigate this difficult period. Take the time you need, cry when you have to and tackle this head on just like you do with everything in life.
    With love from myself and my family

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Mark Holmes

    Hi Sharron
    All the very best wishes and I’m sure you will be ok. Modern cardiology is pretty amazing. You’ve been my Zwift inspiration for a long time and no doubt will continue to be!
    I too have impressive coronary calcification despite years of riding and other sports and 30 years on aspirin and a cholesterol lowering drug. As a doctor myself I was very annoyed!! I guess the best thing is knowing so it can be managed.
    Again all the best the Zwift community loves you and will all be looking forward to your return.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow thanks for reaching out and sharing. I’m blown away by the stories and inspiration out there. Once I got over most of my crying ( still do get teary) I decided I need to raise awareness in the first instance, then be a shining example of a zwifter in cardiac rehab.


  17. Craig Heard

    Thanks for sharing Sharron. I turned 50 in October and I still haven’t done the National Bowel screening test. Time to get off my ass and do it. Pardon the pun. You have got this Sharron

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Mark Nicholls

    Hi Sharron

    I was sorry to read your news and I must admit until recently I didnt think this was a thing for a fit and healthy cyclist until I listened to Phil Cavell’s book “The Mid-Life Cyclist” on Audible. He discusses this in Chapter 3 and there is a Case Study of a friend of his in there. His friend Dr. David Hulse, a strong cyclist suffered a heart attack at the age of 50 which was the first he knew about it. Spoiler alert – he was allowed back on the bike 6 weeks after an operation and rehab starting (keeping his heart rate low) and 4 months later they are chasing him down on the front of the pack. His prior fitness as a cyclist was the basis for his swift recovery through rehabilitation so don’t lose hope. Link to the audio book below which is a fascinating insight. I must admit having recently turned 50 it made me think as has your story. Stay strong and I wish you a speedy rehab.

    The Midlife Cyclist by Phil Cavell, narrated by Phil Cavell on my Audible app. Try Audible and get it here: https://www.audible.co.uk/pd?asin=B09RM2SQDJ&source_code=ASSORAP0511160006&share_location=library_overflow

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Andrew Thomas

    Oh my Sharon, we have Zwifted together for years or so it’s seems.
    I heard that you had some health issue although not know the extent I’m so shocked. My thought and praise are with you and I know if anyone can get through this it’s you.
    Please take care.

    Liked by 1 person

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