Are you Insane? Why are you Running the NYC Marathon a year after you had major Open Heart Surgery?

I'm a lot of things, but haven't been diagnosed insane yet :)

I'm running a marathon a year after having open heart surgery for many reasons.  Generally I'm running to raise money for the American Heart Association and increase awareness of Aortic Disease.  I'm running in memory of John Ritter and as a tribute to my heart surgeon.

On a deeper and more profound level, the NYC Marathon has been a therapeutic part of my recovery.  Everyone is different; some people's idea of healing after heart surgery might be taking it easy, spending more time at home, working less, and living a more tranquil lifestyle.  I on the other hand am happier doing what I am accustomed to doing; pushing the extremes, challenging myself, and refusing to let the surgery confine me.  It's what I've done my whole life, and it's all I know.  To do anything different would be difficult.  I like to beat to my own drum, to kick sand in the face of adversity, and to be nonconforming.  Challenge is an arena I feel most comfortable in and I needed to find ways to continue being challenged after my surgery.  When you're young and active with no health issues you think you're invincible.  When you are diagnosed with a freak condition like an aortic aneurysm and have to undergo open heart surgery it affects you deeply on an emotional level and it can be very easy to fall prey to depression.

It was when my wife Nicole and I were sitting in her room at Lenox Hill Hospital in Manhattan after she delivered our 3rd baby via cesarean section that I decided we were going to run the NYC Marathon.  She had our previous two children naturally and we were both bummed that she had to have a c-section.  She was sitting there in the bed complaining about never being the same again, never getting her body back, not being able to work out, etc...  I looked her in the eye and told her that was unacceptable and that not only were we going to get back in shape together, but we were going one step further and were going to run the NYC Marathon on the one year anniversary of my open heart surgery.  She looked at me like i was crazy, but as soul mates we share the same ambition, and I could tell that she was more excited about the idea than frightened.  The rest is history.  With 3 kids and hectic schedules we've struggled to maintain a training regimen over the past four months; but we've managed.  Our goal of running the NYC Marathon has kept us challenged, stimulated, and focused.  It has helped us heal emotionally as well as physically, and it has kept us in good spirits. 

Among the many stories I hope my children will pass on to my grandchildren will be the one about their dad having open heart surgery, their mom having a cesarean section and both of them running a marathon shortly after.  As my brother-in-law says; "It's Par for the Course!"



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