A long time ago
In a galaxy far, far away
I had open heart surgery.
As I finished running 5 and 1/2 miles today, I reflected on how long ago and far away I seem to be from my surgery day. I feel very good about my future as my body continues to respond in a positive direction. Just four weeks ago, I had daily pain and was concerned I wouldn’t be ready by February for work. This last week was my first week back and it was great to get busy again. I only worked half days, but had no problems with fatigue. I did run a little behind in my schedule because of answering questions about my time off. My staff was glad to have me back and quickly filled my inbox to the maximum.
Kathy and I went to a surprise birthday party for one of her good friends from college and we had a great time. I was surprised to find out how many people are following my blog. I sure am lucky to have such a widespread support network. I have said it a hundred times, but I couldn’t have done so well without everyone.
Saturday also marked my return to golf. My neighbor, Larry, my son, Hugh, and I went to the Chagrin Falls golf dome and I was able to hit balls with my new clubs for an hour. We all enjoyed the retreat from the winter chill. We are going to play eighteen holes on the simulator this Sunday. By the way, any golfers reading this who are looking for new irons, so far I really like these Titleist AP2 712s.
My exercise rehab program continues to be a daily focus. I am running about 20 miles a week, continuing my yoga with Kathy, stretching every day, and accepting my new me. I still have yet to get all my weight back and don’t know if I want it, so I may need to upgrade my wardrobe soon. All is well in Camp Shaughnessy and I look forward to seeing you all soon.
Also, February is celebrate the heart month and my cousin, Christine Pepoy (Shaughnessy), who is forever my hero for not only surviving her ordeal but inspiring me to get my heart checkup, is going to be featured in the Plain Dealers’s Sunday magazine detailing her story. Check it out.
This has been a very productive week. Today is my last day sans work as I am starting back tomorrow. Two weeks ahead of schedule! Physically, I am feeling really good. I ran about 20 miles this past week, including over 5 miles on Friday in an hour; a new post surgery best. Upper body strength training is still limited for the first 3 months, but I can feel the improvements every day. My fatigue is becoming an afterthought and I am anxious to return to work this week.
My days will fill up faster than I expect, but it will be welcomed. I will continue my exuberance with rehab while I get back to the hectic schedule of clinic and surgery. My time at home has been a whirlwind of emotion and physical trials, but I am amazed at what the human body is capable of accomplishing. I have my life back and I will embrace both my career and family with a new appreciation.
Although working at a less than full speed pace has never been my norm, I will try and take time out a little more frequently for the next few months. Dr. Markowitz and many others that I have spoken to who have gone through similar surgeries tell me it may take a full year to get back to “normal”. I can’t imagine waiting that long, but as a first timer, I will listen to my advisors and take heed. On that note, I plan on taking a golf weekend in early March, which we do every year, and I have been given the green light by my wife and doctors.
As I continued to make strides in my physical and emotional recovery, I sense that I will expect more of myself going forward in life. The perfect golf shot requires 100% attention at the moment of impact. In life, I am going to try and hit those perfect shots at all my moments; knowing now that they all could have been taken away from me. I hope to see all of you soon and I again thank everyone for the prayers and support. I plan on blogging about once a week now so as not to bore you all too much. I will continue my narrative journey until I am “normal” again. As if that were possible! Peace.
Progress seems to be following me lately. I had a very good weekend. Yoga on Friday was a new but interesting endeavor. I stretched a few muscles I never knew I had. I was a little sore on Saturday but I am going to continue it once a week for a while. Saturday night I attended my surgery center holiday party and it was a lot of fun seeing everyone. It will not be long until I am back to full strength at work. My workouts continue to be rewarding and I am posting some good times and miles. Today, I ran for over an hour and more than 4.5 miles. I am very pleased with my improvements. I have decided to return to work two weeks early but on a limited schedule (per my surgeon’s orders) starting on January 24th.
Today was the first day I said to myself “I am a survivor” and really felt it. I have been going through this recovery and seeing my goals and feeling pretty good about everything, but when I was running today, I had more of a lightbulb go off about the miracle that has happened. It wasn’t the logical side of things. I have been “in touch” wiith that aspect for some time. Today, I opened my eyes a little more to the survivor side and the now I am going to be OK attitude. I think I passed the bit of lingering anger and “why me” part of the process that I am sure everyone goes through.
One of my favorite MLK quotes (and I might be paraphrasing) is “the true measure of a man is not how he behaves in times of comfort and convenience, but how he stands in times of conflict and compromise”. We all will have our falling days, but remember to try to give your best effort on every day. Talk to you all soon. Peace.
Dr. Markowitz was very pleased with my progress to date. My chest x-ray looked terrific and my sternum is healing well. He stopped my Coumadin, blood thinner, and gave me back my driving privileges. He also stopped my blood pressure medicine so I’m down to a baby aspirin and a vitamin. I still have to limit weights and lifting, but I’m green light for the aerobic stuff. I start some yoga tomorrow with Kathy. I’ll have my first outing party on Saturday when my surgery center holiday party is happening. I have been also cleared to return to work on a limited basis a week or so earlier than planned.
I spent the morning at Kathy’s riding lesson sketching some horses. It was a lot of fun and the time passed too quickly. I will continue to get familiar with the horse form as I have never really drawn them before. I am interested in doing a bigger piece, but I need more study.
Soon enough I will be back to my regular routine and moving forward with a normal life. I will embrace the newness of old routines and cherish my relationships more than ever. My family, friends, and even people I’ve never met have been the glue that kept my recovery from falling apart. I appreciate the phone calls, emails, visits, meals, and more that have allowed my family and I to heal from the trauma of this speedbump in my life’s roadway. My busy, cynical, and satirical self is on the mend and aching for a good golf game.
I’ve been having a good stretch of days lately. Fatigue gets me a little mid afternoon, but I’m wearing out the treadmills and ellipticals and aiming for that not so distant finish line. I have been getting up pretty early to retrain the internal clock. I know I am ahead of what I expected at five weeks. I am hoping to get back to work, probably half days to start, sooner than planned.
Tomorrow is my first follow up with Dr. Markowitz. I am hoping for driving privileges to be reinstated and my Coumadin to be discontinued. I am sure the kids will be disappointed when I go back to work, but I am getting a bit anxious to return. I just can’t sit around for another month.
My only hurdles that I see at this point are the small amount of fatigue and weakness I get later in the day. I am starting some yoga with Kathy this week so we’ll see if that helps with both my physical and emotional recovery. I remain positive that some day in the near future I will resemble the Mike I knew back in November, with an obviously healthier heart. Thanks to all the helpful friends that continue to provide meals for my family. It certainly has made things a lot easier on Kathy and I. Peace.
As I finished a 60 minute, near four mile “jog” on the treadmill today, I reflected on the miraculous nature of the human spirit. My body has been through a train wreck and I am still emerging on the other side seemingly unscathed. Although I had no pre surgery symptoms that I could detect, my ability to go an hour on the treadmill and hardly be tired has intrigued me as to whether I was really just working hard for the last few months or years. I suspect my cardiac output, especially under physical stress, is much improved now. I remain guarded as to the continued rapid progression of success I am having.
I just finished reading “Seven Days in Utopia” and it is as much a golf book as it is a book about embracing life. Seeing, feeling, and trusting the blessings that God has graced upon all of us. I recommend it to any golfer or family member of a golfer. It will help you see the insignificance of the “score” and the true significance of contributing to mankind, in your golf game and otherwise.
I appreciate my new days more and more as I continue to solidify the realization that my life was in danger and that I was guided to a successful outcome. It was not just a random sequence of events that brought everything together. My faith in the process remains strong and I look forward to putting this all behind me, although ever-shaping the new me.
Well, I have been remiss last few days in posting,but things are going very well. I have been going to the gym most every day. My tolerance as of yesterday is up to 50 minutes and 3.5 miles on the treadmill and then stretching and light weights. I still get waves of fatigue, but when I go I do pretty good. My appetite is improving and have added a few pounds in the last week. I have been getting pretty skinny. I am ready to beef up for the long haul.
The new year continues to be a source of inspiration for me. I know it is simply another day on the calendar, but it allows me to compartmentalize all the difficulties I have been through and put them behind me both physically and emotionally. I have been having fun with the kids playing games and reading books. They started back to school today, resistantly. I am still very emotional about how lucky it was to discover the aneurysm before trouble arose. I often think of all the physically stressful activities I did over the last few years without difficulty. My physical pain continues to lessen and I truly believe I will be back stronger than before. With a month to go at home, I need to get more active. I know I have to be the good patient and let the healing continue, but when I hit the six week mark; I’ll be asking for more freedom for sure.
I am looking forward to being back at work and seeing all my co-workers and staff. I will enjoy getting to see friends when I don’t feel like so much the patient anymore. I still have a few books to get through and my endurance needs a little more work, but with one month down I should be seeing most of you all soon. You are my motivators. I’ll keep blogging. Peace.
Well I made it to 2012. I wasn’t so sure a month ago. I am glad to have the worst behind me. I thank God for all the prayers and love and support that allowed me to get through it all.
I did another 3+ miles and 50 minutes on the treadmill today. Three days in a row now. Feeling that endurance improve.
We had a ping pong tournament tonight and karaoke contest. Everybody was a winner. Tired now. More later.