I was scared, I will admit it, I was scared and I asked my wife to call the doctor. Not just any doctor, but the “ticker doctor”, the “keep the motor running doctor”, the “doctor that makes sure my heart keeps pumping”, I needed a cardiologist. , I didn’t have any symptoms; I wasn’t short of breath, or noticing any loss of power. I wasn’t fatigued, in fact I had increased my miles, my intensity and my body was reacting well. But I was scared, and I needed to see the doctor.
The simple facts are these:
- I am 45 and all though I feel young; I still am half way to the finish line. (I am thinking positive)
- My Dad, and all of his brothers have had heart attacks or some type of heart issues
- Until I started running 5 years ago, my diet could best be described as deplorable
- As mentioned before, I am running faster and longer, adding what I can only imagine is more stress on my very valuable organ
- I watched another runner my age, who is faster and stronger than me go down with a heart attack and I freaked. (Update, he is back running again, because he is awesome)
So there you have it, this is what led me up to walking into Dr. Craft’s office. I wasn’t sure what I was doing there, but I needed an expert to tell me I didn’t have some kind of undetected time bomb in my chest, that was going to drop me on some remote path. I do not want someone to actually have to use my Road ID for its intended purpose.
I walked into the waiting room and began to noticeably sweat as I looked around the room wondering what was about to happen. I tried to act very chill as I strolled to the back and got weighed, blood pressure taken and answered the primary questions. The sweating continued as I was left alone in the room. It was at that moment that I began to realize there was a possibility the doctor would find something, something that would be so dramatic that he would tell me stop running! (Notice – that I was simply thinking at that moment about the possibility of my running being effected and not the fact that my life could be coming to an end, FREAK). The quiet was suddenly interrupted by a knock on the door, (I find it funny that doctors knock on the door of their own patients room, one of these days I am just going to say I am busy and could they come back later) Dr. Craft walked in and began to exam me, I felt little bad because of the nervous sweating thing, but he was cool and just kept putting that freezing cold stethoscope all over the place. He asked a lot questions, then let me know he runs too and understood the devotion (obsession) we have for the sport. He commented that he was happy that I took the initiative to come in for a checkup and that he wasn’t seeing me after something bad had happened. He then sent me for an EKG. Again the nerves, what do the squiggly lines mean? I tried to breathe slowly and regulate my heart, because I am a control freak and I really believe I can tell my heart to slow down….yep. Then I waited again for Dr. Craft to come in and read the results. He did and said everything looked great…BUT something concerned him. All I heard was BUT…BUT is not what I wanted to hear. It was a little pulse that showed up and he wanted to further explore it and asked that I make a follow up appointment to come in and wear a monitor for 24 hours. I then would take a stress test. As we stood next to the receptionist desk, I honestly don’t think Dr. Craft thought I was going to come back, because I was trying to fit my appointment around my speed work and tempo runs….FREAK. But I did, I came back 3 weeks later and put on that device. I wore it for 24 hours, I walked wired up like a robot, and I wondered what it was recording, this little device was going to tell a story I wasn’t sure I wanted to hear. The next day I walked into the office and didn’t realize what a stress test was, and I had on my nice VANS shorts and a cool pair of non-running sneakers. They strapped me up and put me on a treadmill, pushed a button and I was off, 3mph at 6% incline. Every 3 minutes it would increase by .5mph and the incline would rise. Up and up it went, we were at 6mph and 18% incline when the sweating began to reach epic levels, they no longer could take my blood pressure and the electrodes were falling off of me. The poor techs were using both hands trying to hold them on me, and then I am pretty sure I saw them just throw their hands up and gave in to the big sweating guy who was now at 6.5mph and 22% incline and that is when I called it. Wires were flopping everywhere, machines were beeping and I was pretty sure I had broken the machine. They laid me on cot and tried sticking more electrodes on me to take readings as my heart slowed down, but the sweat…oh the sweat. I had, all at one time, 3 women with towels drying me off. I should have been in heaven, but I was freaking out with what the readings were going to say. It got quiet again and I was by myself. The tech came in and said I could go home; Dr. Craft would call me with my results. I didn’t want to wait; I wanted to know right then and there. I wanted to know if I could run, if I would see another finish line, if I would walk my baby girl down the aisle and see my son pitch in the Major Leagues, I want to grow old with my really hot wife, but I had to get in my car and go home. I had to wait. I went home and sat at my desk and just stared out the window, my superhot wife encouraged me and made me an awesome dinner.
We sat in the garage and watched a storm come in and waited. As we sat there and talked my phone came alive and I answered. The voice on the other said “Reist, this is Dr. Craft. I want to first thank you for trying to break our treadmill; we don’t have many people go 20 minutes on a stress test. Your tests are normal” and that is all I heard for the next few moments. He was giving me some facts about the strength of heartbeat and other things, but all I could do was high-five my wife and hug her. I thanked Dr. Craft for being so straight forward with me during the process. For keeping it real and not sugar coating things, he was informative and comforting.
I was scared, but instead of avoiding the issue, I made a choice to go face the fear. I am always talking about not backing down from challenges, moving outside the comfort zone, and doing what scares you will often make you stronger. Well, I had to listen to my own advice and so I went and I am glad I did. I believe that going to get checked, can only be a good thing, especially if you are doing more that you ever have before, what is the downside? I couldn’t wait to go run the next day. I put on my shoes and ran hard, I enjoyed the finish.
Dr. Craft has a great website, with lots of information that can help. Go visit it, get educated, and stay healthy. www.thehearthealthcenter.com