Bit dramatic? Bit offensive? Build a bridge….I’ve been a bit flatter the last few days and it made me smile.
I’ve plagiarised the title from Trek. I’ll get to that! Just thought it was a great headline grabber after reading it in their book this week.
I’ve had an interesting fortnight since my last blog. Not all a bed of roses as this rehab gig can be ‘a cranky bitch’ a phrase coined by an old high school friend Wendy earlier today.
I am making solid progress physically, building up to 5.5 km daily walks, and today 78 minutes sitting upright on my bike on Zwift. My walks are great along the banks of the Forth River and our lovely beach here in Turners Beach. Some recent photos.
I saw my cardiologist who described my progress as way ahead of others similar age and stage. I think that is the benefit of my pre surgery fitness.
Tiredness and emotional fragility and residual aches and pains are my main gripes. Lack of concentration and poor memory too.
He tweaked my medications a little more beyond my cardio thoracic surgeon, to try and reduce the brain fog and dizziness a bit more. I have been tracking my blood pressure daily and it is consistently low, around 90/70.
In discussion with him and my cardiac rehab nurse Erin, I have started to decrease the walking and increase the Zwift cycling. My knee (advanced osteoarthritis, bone on bone) is playing up and not coping well now with the 38-40 km walking per week. I cannot not see the point in taking Celebrex just to walk an hour when I have an alternative cardiac option in my garage.
I am well overdue for my total knee replacement, and seriously, I am not in the right mental state to have that any time soon.
So I will reduce weight bearing exercise and increase non weight bearing. Sensible but then there is my bum! I still have to sit upright (ie not putting hands on the handle bars)
It hurts sitting up for long periods. We tried a recumbent option with a chair but less power output again vs bum pain….🙈😳
Concurrently with this issue I was feeling guilty that I was letting Trek down. I am a Zwift Trek Ambassador in Australia and leader backup the weekly Trek ride on Saturday. A 70 km, 5 hill climb event.
I had a chat with Trek’s Aaron who reassured me that Trek invest in people, all was good, and they’d help me however needed.
That led to a discussion on my bum discomfort and he told me he’d post me a saddle from an ebike, designed for more upright pedalling.
Boom. A parcel arrived with a bonus, socks and a Trek book.
The saddle is heaps better, tilted back. I can tolerate a longer time in the saddle.
The Trek book! Somewhat of a history book on Trek but also their business philosophies. I do love this particular business lesson : we love our customers and employees and work with some of the best people in the world. But we don’t works with assholes.
I think most of us can relate to investing far too much time with people like Tom in the story above. I try hard with many people and I need to learn to turn away from the very few Tom’s in my life.
In other news, I am a very goal oriented person. If I do not have goals, I tend to flounder. Two have been set in the last fortnight.
Firstly, we have booked to travel to Norfolk Island during our Christmas break for one week. Norfolk Island is a territory of Australia about 2.5 hours flying time east of Sydney.
There is a strong family connection as my great great…..grandmother was born there. A great story for another day.
The second goal. We are starting to scope a bike packing cycle tour. It will be impossible for me to get travel insurance now to include cardiac (silly as I am far far less risk than I was in May). We will go to countries where Australia has a bilateral health agreement. There are 11 such countries.
Again, another story, another day.
Thanks for everyone who has been in touch in the last fortnight. Your continuing encouragement is so very welcomed as some days are tougher than others.
The messages on Zwift, strava, Facebook and texts are so gratefully received. Your encouragement and care is not taken for granted and I am very humbled that you take the time. ❣️
Thank you to the many friends who have sent me texts and pm’s asking how I am going in the last fortnight, particularly in the absence of no blog last weekend. I am most appreciative and thankful for your care and concern.
Simple reason for no blog….I was just very tired and my motivation levels were low.
The last fortnight saw many changes, with a major one being Tony returning to work and me fending for myself. Whilst I have excellent personal leave provisions, Tony has none and when he does not work, he does not get paid. His bank account has taken a large hit at my expense with a month off work pre and post surgery.
Survive I have and I have improved significantly although it is hard for me to see and acknowledge from day to day. However, I have charted my progress and can see my improvement.
My day starts something like this. I am awake by 4.30-5.00 am as I am uncomfortable in bed with chest discomfort. I am sleeping on my back with 3 European pillows lifting my upper body angle. My natural pre surgery position is on my side, but that is not possible currently.
Between 5 am and 9 am I am at my most alert. 9 am is drug cocktail time and I get dizzy and light headed and fuzzy.
I do my first walk before 9 am and my first day home I walked 320 metres (day 10) . This morning I walked 4 km (day 30).
I then rest for 2 hours or so, often falling asleep on my recliner.
Rest is a huge part of where I am at currently as I exercise my lungs and heart within defined acceptable parameters.
So to that burning question, and one the surgeon Ash asked me when he saw me a few days ago…..”is she back on the bike?”
So now you know. I started on Zwift on day 19. Per the guide below the question I raised with the cardio rehabilitation lady who overviews my rehab.
I had a cardiac rehabilitation appointment mid week on week 3 and sought to unpack the line re recreational. It was determined Zwift was ok, 8 kmh was 💩 and a short time…..well 😳🙈😀
Let’s say that as per the video, you have to sit upright and that is self limiting due saddle ergonomics. At 8 weeks I can lean forward and use the handle bars which will see and increase in power output and duration.
I talked to Trek this week and they are going to send a saddle to try designed for more upright riding.
I Zwift around lunchtime, rest, then do my afternoon walk then rest again.
I fall asleep during each rest period, as I do after dinner before I head to bed around 9 pm. I have my evening drugs then and I have some pain tablets around 1 am.
I am tracking my rehab and you can see the progress below. Day 10 I walked 320 metres in the morning and today, day 30 I walked 4 km. I am walking twice a day (most days) plus zwift.
I am being tracked by many on both Zwift and strava who are providing me with great encouragement. I rest/sleep in between each rehab episode.
Drugs are necessary and I have set up my own webster packs using disposable containers I used at Calvary. I have an am and pm container.
Two of the drugs are messing with me, causing side effects including dizziness. Dr Ash has has halved one drug and swapped another from am to pm, hopefully meaning the worst light head feeling is whilst I am asleep.
I am also tracking my blood pressure. Each morning it is around 90/70 which is particularly low and hence why the beta blocker can be halved. It will be interesting to see if this change makes me feel a bit more human.
I have been blessed with friends sending me cards and gifts including home made biscuits, cakes, flowers, scratchies, food hampers and so on, but two I want to share from the last two weeks.
The first is from Zwift Australia. A total surprise.
Then there was this thoughtful gift from my daughter Hannah, who is also a physiotherapist. I get heaps of upper back and neck aches since the surgery and my hands get cold (beta blocker side effect).
The larger heat pack drapes around your neck and covers the upper back. Every person undergoing open heart surgery needs one of these packs made in Adelaide using lupin seeds.
My first social event was yesterday. I had a friend from my teenage athletic years undergo open heart surgery 12 days before me. He and his partner visited for lunch. We compared war wounds (literally) and stories and went for a walk to our local beach. Lovely to catch up as we both progress through rehab.
Certainly this has been a time of reflection. Cardiac blues are a thing!Whilst there are things that rattle/disappoint me as I convalesce and focus on getting stronger, I am trying to focus on the positives – family (my kids, cousins, uncle, aunt) and friends who have taken the time to show their care and concerns and keep my spirits higher. Huge thanks and hugs for your positivity.
The lesson is support those who support you. Let the others go. ❣️
The blog has been extraordinary. Over 10,000 unique visits. Words fails me. A topic that interests many.
The new cardiac zwifting Facebook page I established, Heartz, has attracted a nice core group. Two zwifters I have known for a few years have contacted me in the last week, both facing their own open heart surgery journeys and I will happily support each the best I can.
That’s it for now, probably things I meant to say but have forgotten, such is my memory at the moment.
I have been home a week now. Nice to be home and thankful for the support some neighbours have given Tony given I cannot cook and pretty useless with my arms not able to be weight bearing.
Soup, quiche and banana cake have been greatly appreciated as it take some pressure off Tony who has now had 4 weeks off work supporting me. Tony helps me dress, undress and put on the dvt socks and is doing all the housework and laundering etc.
My day starts off around 4.30 am ish as I wake in pain (broad chest pain from the sternotomy) and I plod out of bed to my recliner in the lounge and snuggle under blankets.
I am walking twice a day, strictly per the guidelines provided. Today was 2 x 13 minutes. I am being strict as I have been warned as to the consequences of getting ahead of yourself. There are no heroes here with rehab.
I have a morning and afternoon nap in my recliner. One of my morning tablets causes drowsiness and I’m hoping it’s not a long term one as it foggies my brain.
I have received beautiful flowers during the week including Pauline and Craig and Craig and Ellie.
23 work colleagues got together and provided a goodies basket including a plant, candle, chocolates, face creams, and other carefully chosen products. It was a lovely treat to arrive home to.
The biggest surprise came from an anonymous parcel with a card addressed to the mink. You can read the message below. Lisa is a fellow Aussie endurance rider and we’ve not met but I was very touched.
Day 11 I set up a Zwift support group for cardiac patients named Heartz. 30 or so members already and I am thinking more and more about the Tasmanian group Heals and how I would like to be an advocate for cardiac athletes. Not sure what that could look like but it follows a conversation with my surgeon.
Ash came to see me last Saturday and I want to leave you with two photos. Ash asked me if he could take a selfie with me. Of course!
He then sent me the photo to my mobile with the following words. I will forever treasure the photo and words, from the man who literally is the only one to have ever touched my heart. He stopped my heart for around an hour and he restarted it. I’m in awe and forever thankful for his surgical skills and human niceness.
One week down. It’s been a journey for sure, and not one I would recommend. I joke and say as an experience on Trip Advisor, open heart surgery rates no stars.
After my surgery last Friday I spent 4 nights in ICU. A very humbling experience. I was in bay one for two nights then the isolation room for the next two.
ICU has a series of open bays separated by curtains with a central area for medical and nursing staff where they have a clear view of all, except the isolation room. Sounds like the name for one of those group games where you try and escape, the panic room?
I was placed in the isolation room because one of my surgical team tested positive for covid. No visitors allowed whilst they awaited my pcr results, which seemed very slow for something tagged urgent.
The room was quiet. ICU is a noisy place with an array of monitors bleeping and lots chatter. The room gave me peace. No extra sleep though! Solid sleep evaded me. Getting comfortable a seemingly impossible art.
Once my negative covid test came back my door could be opened, and I took this photo carefully as just to the right is a fully intubated older lady. I watch the staff working on her and caring for her. She can’t move as she is on a ventilator. I realise that the same dedication they are showing her, was given to me just a few days before. I became emotional with gratitude. It is very humbling to watch their care, dedication, professionalism and empathy.
I’ve been quite emotional. Ups and downs. Feeling a bit better, then miserable over anything and everything. I gather that is quite normal for this stage. Cardiac blues.
I am eating again although appetite wanes from day to day. I am drinking heaps in particular coconut water, per my surgeons request ( potassium for the heart). I’ve lost a few kg.
I am walking. I have seen the physiotherapist daily and my exercises have increased. I can now do 5 x 100 m plus walks with a few of those having some stairs.
It is hard work and I huff and puff and have a heart rate far higher than pre surgery for the same exercise. Maybe 35 bpm difference, but that will improve.
I still blow into the ball contraption and can keep up higher for longer. The third ball has started to move a tad.
I have had some sleep the last two nights. Drug induced but at least I’ve slept. I could feel my body relaxing whereas before it was a constant battle.
My temperature has abated after many days and night sweats.
Perhaps my funniest experience (Only funny thing? Not the kind of place you come looking for comedy), was my final night in ICU
I thought I’d try my solo endeavours out . Midnight and I needed to pee. I was attached to the dvt machine that pumps air around your legs. I was also attached to a blood pressure machine and cuff.
I unwrapped the dvt leggings as they were velcros and easier than disconnecting the cables as I cannot use my arm strength. I disconnected the blood pressure cable and removed the cuff. I did my thing.
I came back to bed and all three items had inflated to their max and I could not put them back on. Dang, cuss, curse….what to do? Only option was to press the buzzer and fess up. Yes, I got the lecture I knew was coming and I sat there and nodded….but 🙈😳🤣
Stubborn Sharron was a good sign though that I was on my way back.
In addition to the wonderful medical, nursing, ancillary and support staff including the lovely orderlies and catering staff, I’ve regularly face timed Tony and Hannah, visits from Joshua and Kimberley, messages from two sons in Europe plus heaps of texts and pm’s. Thankyou all.
Covid issues have meant minimal visitations plus when in isolation none. It’s not easy.
Correspondence has taken time and I’m a bit slow as I get tired easily and quickly.
I received a surprise bunch of flowers, card and home made soup from Sam from Bendigo ( a Zwift friend) who had her Hobart based son drop it off (and he had made the soup himself). I was very touched.
Home time is tomorrow. I’ve passed my various tests ( blood, X-ray) and the pharmacist has a pack of drugs ready for me. My iron levels are low and I need to work on them. The word prunes was mentioned 😳
I will not miss the heparin injections into my bruised pin cushion tummy, or the rubber mattress and pillows. I look forward to being in my own home and moving around it, having a warm shower in a warm bathroom.
The home bound trip will take a while. 330 km but to be back home with Tony and Khaleesi will be a delight as I continue on my rehab recovery journey.
Reality check here though readers. My aim in telling my story is to have you avoid what I’m going through. This is the vivid, harsh reality. One can deny it all they like or try and turn a blind eye but….every picture tells a story.
I understand the chest scar may confront some. But this is the way they get into your heart for coronary artery bypass grafts. They cut through your sternum bones, pull the bones all back and do their thing! No escaping it.
Get that check!!
To finish with a brighter photo, this is me 530 am Saturday, Day 8. I think Sharron 2.0 is starting to come back to life.
Zwifters… I’d rather eat a bucket of kale and do radio tower intervals. Bucket!
The zipper club not one I’d line up to join, but here I am.
The anaesthetist zwifts. The guy in charge of the heart lung bypass machine zwifts. Nurse Aaron has found me on strava. Great to have like minded people around. Katja ( the anaesthetist) wants to join me on Zwift for my very first ride. 😊
I was taken to theatre around 12 noon Friday, and the two anaesthetists knocked me out within minutes. No time to get overawed.
Next thing I’m vaguely conscious as they bring me out and being given instructions as I’m still intubated. That was not pleasant and they ask you to give thumbs up. I let it rain thumbs! Finally the tubes that had been doing my breathing are removed. Relief..
Once extubated they tell me it’s just after 8 am Saturday. Wow.
My chest feels like I’ve had a run in with a Mack truck.
Dr Ash did this drawing for me showing his handy work. He’s a life saver and I told him my next cycle tour I’m dedicating to him.
I’ve been out of bed on day one and two. Yesterday I did a little walk with a walker. I get dizzy and nauseous.
Not interested in food yet. No appetite and I poke around with my banana. Dr Ash wants me to eat two bananas, one avocado and coconut water to help my potassium levels.
The nursing and medical staff here in icu are brilliant and very caring.
Only issue today is that the assistant surgeon has tested positive for covid so now I’m in isolation from others. Results due back today.
I have X-rays taken a few times a day to check lungs. Bloods regularly. I do have a bit of a temperature and they are doing cultures. I am told I’m doing well although if I’m honest, I feel like shit.
Sleep is evading me. 10 minutes here and there. Painkillers are oral now and I take whatever is offered, plus something to sleep.
New exercise is this contraption. I can get two balls up.
They are hoping to release me from icu today and send me to the surgical ward.
Tony is heading home today for a few days. Visiting hours are limited to 30 min and we can face time instead.
Thanks for your love, support and encouragement . Tony and Joshua have received in excess of 600 messages, comments and likes.
I am now in hospital in Hobart, having been admitted early afternoon (Thursday)
I have had additional radiology tests. I had a chest X-ray and a carotid artery doppler. The sonographer asked what I was doing there as he said I was too young and the wrong build for coronary artery disease. ‘Genetics’ I said.
The good news is that he told me my carotid arteries are as good as the day I was born. Big relief.
The anaesthetist is a lovely lady, Dr B. The conversation started by her asking me questions about Zwift and she obviously knew a bit about me. I asked how she knew these things, and her response was very honest…”I googled you”. We both had a good laugh and I felt very relaxed with her.
She spelled out in considerable detail her role and the amount of cables and tubes I will have inserted or attached to my body. Mind boggling.
I will be taken to theatre one hour before surgery at around noon. It takes an hour to prepare me with all those cables and lines and anaesthetise me. The cardio thoracic surgeon walks in at 1 pm…ish.
Dr Ash will work on harvesting my donor vessels first (mammary and arm currently planned), then he accesses my heart (cutting through the sternum and clamping it back), stops my heart (they use potassium), places me on the bypass machine to keep me alive, graft the new vessels, restart my heart (hopefully the warm blood does the trick, otherwise they have jumper leads), wire my sternum, stitch me up and send me to ICU.
Dr B loves her job, and she loves the cardiac team she works with. She reminded me that they do these surgeries nearly every day and it is bread and butter for them. Most traumatic day of my life is their bread and butter.
Then starts the recovery road and rehabilitation. Day 1 of Part 2 of the rest of my life. Mink 2.0.
I am a lucky girl. They found it despite being asymptomatic. I know there will be challenges, good and bad days, but I have faith in my personal tenacity and resilience.
Finishing off with a beautiful message from my granddaughter, shared with her parents blessing. Enjoy 😊
Three wise men have entered my life. Dr B, Dr P and Dr A. I owe them big time!
They have come bearing gifts – they are wise, well trained, professional, caring, empathetic and possess great diagnostic, communication, interventional and surgical skills. Their gifts? Giving me the opportunity to potentially live a lot longer.
So what went down on Friday?
I have written this blog a few times and tackled it in different ways – the outcome is the same. I am getting so many messages asking what happened, so here it is.
Friday was angiogram day – brought forward by a fortnight from the original appointment.
I was nervous – not so much the procedure as I have had a lot of medical ‘stuff’ happen over the years – but more the possible range of outcomes. Fear of the unknown.
There were five ahead of me on the list – and I got to hear the two way conversations between Dr P and each patient as he did his pre angio rounds. I got to hear his post angio findings too. Certainly there is no privacy in the pre theatre room. They all got good results – it all started off with “I’ve got good news…”
The nursing staff in preparing you do an ecg and insert a canula. Waiting, waiting, waiting. I found it hard to concentrate on my book. I tried word puzzles too but again my concentration was poor.
My turn was some 5.5 hours after being admitted, and by then I was extremely thirsty not having had any fluid for nearly 17 hours.
I walked into the theatre and popped myself up onto a very slender, long metal table. It was quite cold in there.
The senior nurse takes over with a series of instructions. Arms by your side – do not move them! Head looking up – do not move it! Do not talk! You can watch the screen but only by moving your eyes! Ok – noted – loud and clear!
Both arms are by your side as one staff members fiddles with the canula and nice, I could feel the midazolam hit my system. That takes the edge off the anxiety. They also injected fentanyl and a bit later contrast dye upon Dr P request.
The right arm is for the cardiologist – liberal use of iodine to cleanse the skin, then I could feel a wet, cold sponge like product. Dr P walks in, all clad in his lead suit (I gather they weigh over 7 kg). He feels my arm and injects local anaesthetic and the sheath and catheter are inserted into the artery on the wrist – and quick as lightening the catheter is checking out the heart.
There are four screens he is watching – two with data, two with images, and there is a very square and boxy xray head swivelling around at various angles taking the images. The xray head at time obscured my vision, and I dare not move my head to look.
The angiogram does not take that long – Dr P tells me he has finished it and that he will do a stress test on my heart – how that works I am not sure, but he is making my heart work out whilst I lay there – and I could feel my heart rate increase.
Dr P disappears for maybe 5 minutes and comes back telling me he wants to show me what he found (eek – this is not in line with the first five patients – I am sure they all want to know too….). He told me that I am one very lucky girl, sitting on a huge ticking time bomb.
He should probably have waited to do that stress test as I reckon my heart rate popped right up there and then. He told me that one day I would have just dropped dead without warning. Very sobering.
I think about the 3 000 km that we have recently cycled in Europe and think about what could have happened as I climbed up some of those 20 000 metres worth of hills and mountains. Thankfully we had a brilliant holiday.
He pointed out the issue on the screen – and it was pretty damn obvious to even my untrained eye.
I have an 80% blockage to the LAD – and it is in an awkward spot at the T junction. It is not possible to stent with a lesion in that particular position. Therefore I need open heart surgery and coronary artery bypass grafts.
The LAD is commonly referred to as the widow maker artery – it supplies blood to the larger, frontal part of the heart and is regarded as the most important artery. Survival from cardiac arrest cause by a LAD blockage outside of a hospital is around 6%.
In the few minutes that Dr P had disappeared from theatre, he had already rung Dr A and shared my imaging with him and jointly decided the surgery will be in the next week or so – when they can coordinate the hospital and other issues including current Covid impacts.
He leaves again- and I burst into tears. The senior nurse hits me around the head with a wet fish (metaphorically speaking!) and I needed it – she told me to invert my thinking (she read one of my earlier blogs?) and to remember what he said – that I am a lucky girl!! Others are not as fortunate and just drop dead. Salient!
Post the angiogram you need to stay in bed for a few hours and the catheter site has a pressurised wrist band that they regularly remove a little bit of air from – as it is an artery it is more prone to opening up and bleeding.
After two hours I was allowed to go to the loo (as they like you to drink 2 litres of water post procedure to flush out your kidneys) and what goes in….
It was whilst I was in the loo that I forgot about that hand and used it to assist me – and when I went to wash my hands saw the blood everywhere.
So the pressure bandage had more air go back into it and I needed to stay a bit longer.
Upon leaving I was met not only by Tony, but my eldest son Joshua, his wife Kimberley and my two darling grand kids. They had travelled up from Hobart for the day to be with Tony, hoping to see me when I left before driving back home again.
If ever I needed a salient reminder about all the good things in life, this was it – as my young granddaughter called out “Granny” and had a few flowers in her hand that she had picked from the hospital gardens.
This is worth living for.
Saturday 23rd July, 2022
Dr A rang me in the morning and had a chat – and arranged to do a Zoom meeting in the evening. Amazing on a Saturday that he is willing to put this time into me.
He tells me not to call him Dr – he is “Ash” – an extraordinarily unpretentious surgeon. I warm to him immediately.
To cut a long story short, I am to have surgery either late this week (Fri), or early the week after (Tue). The final date will be confirmed tomorrow by his assistant.
There are more tests to be done including a doppler on my carotid artery. Dr P and Dr A have said my risk factors are nearly all genetic based, and that there is a corresponding link to blockages in the carotid artery. If they find something, that will be an issue subsequent to the heart surgery for resolution.
He gives sobering data too – like there is a 6% chance of a heart attack during the surgery – but let’s wack that fish around a bit more and invert that – there is a 94% chance that it will be fine! Let’s stick to 94%.
In addition to this week, I will be off work for at least 8 weeks post surgery and not allowed on the bike for 2-3 months (that will be another conversation as I presume he is thinking bike riding on roads – and yes with the sternum repairing I totally understand why). I will be in hospital for maybe 8-9 days (bit longer than I was thinking) but he did counteract that with a “until you are sick of the hospital food”.
He has given me a number of websites to checkout – and one was on You Tube – so I digressed and watched an open heart coronary graft bypass procedure – ooh!!! Not for the squeamish and I certainly hope after they stop my heart that they can kick start it again ok!!!
I am very thankful for the three wise men. Huge thanks to Dr B, the radiologist who after seeing the results contacted Dr P immediately – and rang me that night to talk me through his findings.
Dr P who got me in a month earlier than planned to schedule the next step – and then upon diagnosis contacted Dr A who is getting me in earlier too.
I will be on the rehab road (hopefully) by the date of my first review appointment with Dr P ( originally Aug 5) such is the speed of this journey progress.
Now I need to do my bit and be that couch potato and chill and get ready for the next big hurdle.
I have faced hurdles before. In 1999 I had an undiagnosed (40 hours) ruptured appendix, gangrene and peritonitis – and I got through that after being told another 24 hours and I would have been dead.
This will be big – but I use my father in law as a wonderful example of exemplary recovery. At his first post surgery cardiac rehab session they were all asked to walk two laps of the oval. He very proudly lapped everyone!
I have the right attitude, and I will succeed. Watch me!
It rang – and it was my cardiologist’s rooms – and yes I have been brought forward by a fortnight to this Friday.
Nervous but pleased – let’s get this show on the road!
I just need to keep Covid free and hope that the hospital team do too as Covid has impacted the state’s public hospitals. My angiogram will be in a private hospital but nonetheless, same factors in play if the medical team catch that little dictator of a germ.
This may offend some, but too good not to share – a work colleague Jackie H posted this recently.
A few salient reminders hit home this week re regular medical checkups.
As a teenager I had a close knit group within my athletic group. We had a lot of fun as teenagers and to this day now have a regular chat group and ‘annual’ dinner when we can. One of those friends is today having bypass surgery after a medical incident (no prior warnings), and another is starting chemotherapy in a week or so (cancer can just F off!), then the third is me with unclear cardiac outcomes, and the fourth is off for a medical checkup – taking no chances!.
Time is going by slowly – I have an extra 4 hours a day to do stuff other than cycle. So what do I do? I have started work earlier, I am still working on my jigsaw puzzle, I am upcycling a set of bedside tables that I purchased for one of the spare bedrooms, I have bought heaps of books (some arrived, some still to arrive), answering personal messages received, chatting with family, working on my ancestry family tree (another hobby, over 10,000 direct relatives identified), walking twice a day with Tony and Khaleesi and yesterday we went and watched Tony’s son run in the local Ironman race (25 km?).
I love books and built a library in our home just for them – I do prefer the tactile touch of a book when reading and I’ve not got into e-books.
Suzanne P responded to my last post regarding perception. I have known Suzanne since I was a teenager, attending the same church youth group. It was a wonderful fun group and I have great memories including a play that we did around the song “My boomerang wont come back”, and another time all piled into the back of a panel van driven by our group leader (?) maybe going to a progressive dinner (?).
Suzanne reached out to me to share a beautiful article she had read recently. The following extract is all about perception.
In his book, The Vision and The Vow, Pete Greig tells of how a distinguished art critic was studying an exquisite painting by the Italian Renaissance master Filippino Lippi. He stood in London’s National Gallery gazing at the fifteenth-century depiction of Mary holding the infant Jesus on her lap, with Saints Dominic and Jerome kneeling nearby. But the painting troubled him. There could be no doubting Lippi’s skill, his use of colour or composition, But the proportions of the picture seemed slightly wrong. The hills in the background seemed exaggerated, as if they might topple out of the frame at any minute onto the gallery’s polished floor.
The two kneeling saints looked awkward and uncomfortable.
Art critic Robert Cumming was not the first to criticise Lippi’s work for its poor perspective, but he may well be the last to do so, because at that moment he had a revelation. It suddenly occurred to him that the the problem might be his. The painting had never been intended to come anywhere near a gallery. Lippi’s painting had been commissioned to hang in a place of prayer.
The dignified critic dropped to his knees in the public gallery before the painting. He suddenly saw what generations of art critics had missed.
From his new vantage point, Robert Cumming found himself gazing up at a perfectly proportioned piece. The foreground had moved naturally to the background, while the saints seemed settled – their awkwardness, like the painting itself, having turned to grace.
Mary now looked intently and kindly directly at him as he knelt at her feet between saints Dominic and Jerome.
It was not the perspective of the painting that had been wrong all these years, it was the perspective of people looking at it.
Robert Cumming, on bended knee, found a beauty that Robert Cumming the proud art critic could not. The painting only came alive to those on their knees in prayer. The right perspective was the position of worship for this particular painting.
Salient message there. Try viewing life from alternate perspectives.
Doing my jigsaw I thought about this extract more – as I turned the dark pieces around trying to find just where they fitted – and the fit was not always where you thought it might go either. I spun the jigsaw around.
As my favourite orthopedic surgeon, Dr Gary Fettke stated – he wrote a book (One Man’s Answer) about it – invert your thinking! “Inversion is turning a familiar image upside down and seeing it from a new perspective. The answer is often right in front of us.”
Shane (Warnie) was a legend in Australia – a true Aussie legend. A brilliant cricketer, strategic, incisive and sometimes controversial. I did not agree with all of his public statements or his lifestyle choices- but – that was his opinion – his truth – his perceptions – his life!
I grew up watching cricket. The television was often on during the summer holidays with predominantly Test matches in those days (late 70’s to early 80’s).
As a teenager I remember heading to the NTCA ground on my own and watching the English team play in Launceston. I got the autographs of greats such as Ian Botham, Derek Randall, Geoff Boycott, David Gower – a star studded team.
I would wake up around 3 am to watch the final session of Ashes when being played in England on a little black and white portable tv perched on a stool in my bedroom.
I had my small portable transistor radio tucked away in my blazer pocket during the final few hours of the Centenary Test in 1977 – in my English class. What a match and result. My cricketing heroes back then were Dennis Lillee and Jeff Thomson. I loved hearing the chant of the crowd when they bowled.
In 2005, I recall a trip I took with my then 14 year old son Luke to Melbourne. It was a mother/son trip. We were watching a one day match at Etihad stadium – Australia vs the World XI . Warnie was not playing, but he just happened to be within metres of where we were sitting, fiddling with his mobile phone.
There was a glass screen between where he was and where we were. An attractive female stood on our side of the screen with her mobile, making it look like she was texting (Warnie for the sake of the photo I presume). She had a friend standing maybe 5 metres back taking a photo of her, with Warnie in the backdrop also texting – hence suggesting that perhaps they were texting each other.
I felt really sorry for Warnie and viewed him in a different way thereafter – it was not that long after all the furor regarding his mobile phone and women. How easily perceptions can be distorted! Two totally different stories playing out – but ‘perceptions’ can vary depending upon whom is looking, with explicit and unconscious bias playing their part when one ultimately viewed the resulting photograph.
Tony told me of a story this week that was shared to him by Dave, a work colleague. It concerns a former member of the Victorian Labor Party – someone I have never heard of, Philip Dalidakis.
Following the sudden and untimely death of Warnie, he arranged to get a cardio check up, the result of which was an unclear scan, subsequently resulting in an angiogram.
During the angiogram it was revealed that he had a severely blocked artery that could have easily brought on a stroke or other catastrophic heart failure.
They found a 95% blocked artery – this guy had ZERO symptoms.
Quote: “I only got checked because of Warnie”.
Now I am certainly no Warnie – but I continue to be overwhelmed by the personal support and messages as I have shared my own, very personal and emotional journey. I’ve been hit for six – and right now I am scoring a few singles where I can.
I acknowledge that I have a profile higher than some others courtesy of Zwift and the 200,000 km I have ridden resulting in me being a Trek Ambassador. I have over 11,000 followers (Zwift, social media, strava etc – notwithstanding there would be numerous duplicates within that data).
I have always tried to use that following responsibly, and overwhelmingly, most agree that I do. I wear my heart of my sleeve for sure, and I know that a few have found my forthrightness and openness unpalatable and unacceptable. I am but human and have many quirks and foibles and scars. For that I apologise. The first two posts were highly emotionally charged given my highly distressed state at that time and in hindsight, if I was more stable, would have tackled them differently. Hindsight is a wonderful thing.
I will continue to use my profile to raise awareness of issues and right now to encourage you to get your checkups (heart health, mammograms, prostate, bowel, blood screenings and so on).
I am me. The sum of my life experiences. I am proud of me and what I have achieved.
A very sweet 8 year old girl made my day earlier this week. Evie is the grand daughter of a neighbour and is wise beyond her years. Her hand written note speaks volumes.
I have had many people share with me their journeys, fears, genetic background and that they have already made/will be making those medical appointments. TICK!!
Anyone who rides with me knows for sure one thing I do not like. Kale, I joke is a naughty four lettered word, and I type it as *ale.
With my recent diagnosis, and knowing I have some hospital visits ahead for remediation works, I cannot afford to get covid. Apart from being higher risk, it would bump me from my scheduled date.
Tony is also being proactive in this regard as he is my greatest risk given he is out and about more. To mitigate one impact, we are now getting groceries delivered.
I ordered a range of fruit and vegetables including bokchoy. Coles in their wisdom has determined kale is a substitute for bok choy!!
What the kale? No and never. The best way to cook kale is with coconut oil as it makes it easier to scrape into the bin!
I have made kale chips before but right now I do not need additional oil and salt!
What to do with it…??
The beta blockers are kicking in big time. I put my heart monitor on yesterday for some gentle exercise and was shocked when it said 48! I have fairly low HR but that is the lowest number I’ve ever seen for me!
I purchased a Fitbit watch last night so I can wear it walking. My Garmin arm band is a pain, synched to my mobile. I need my reading glasses to check it whilst I walk. I am sure to trip over something.
The beta blockers are making me tired too and I am glad I have Tony here to walk with me. Only short walks but great for the head. This is our beach yesterday afternoon. Beautiful day. Today is bleak and dull but still nice on the beach.
I’ve pottered around. I have a jigsaw on the go. It’s quite hard actually so will be challenging. I’ve been to Rome, and you can see the Palatine Gardens in the jigsaw. Tony has not been there, so I am adding it to my goal list.
My eldest son Joshua proposed to his now wife Kimberley in the olive grove in the Palatine Gardens.
We headed out for brunch yesterday at our local Berry Patch. Out the back gate, over the railway line, through the scrub. All of maybe 200 metres and we are there.
This was our meal for Tony’s birthday on Thursday night. Wanting to avoid indoor settings, we sat outside, rugged up.
I made sushi for lunch today, and also dehydrated 6 organic Granny Smith apples. I made Greek yoghurt yesterday. Tony takes it to work with fruit.
Finally, I am now thinking that I may have had a pre warning…something I did not recognise at the time.
Hannah and Roey visited a few weeks ago to celebrate my 60 th with me. We went for a bush walk in the Dial Range up Mt Gnomon. It starts with 1 km steep uphill. I found it hard. I stopped numerous times huffing and puffing and told Tony the climb was harder than I remembered. Yes it was a steep hill but I needed a lot more rest than before. I do think that my heart was not getting enough blood now.
So sometimes the clues might be there but we do not recognise them, and put such clues down to other things…like I’m not climbing fit….or my lungs do not like this cooler damp air….or they are younger and faster…when in fact it may have been ….my heart is not getting enough blood pumping around!
Be alert, without being paranoid!
There have been over 2900 views of the first four blogs. Over 1600 for the very first one, Taking life for granted. Incredible support and I think that for many it has hit home the need to be more proactive in understanding their own health.