"...I am not ready to accept this..."
I was training for my third Los Angeles marathon when in December, 2012 my eye doctor noticed that one pupil was smaller than the other and that my eyelid was drooping, signs of Horner's Syndrome. He sent me to the Jules Styne Eye Institute at UCLA where it was confirmed and I was immediately sent to get MRI's and MRA of my head chest and abdomen. These showed no signs of cancer which can cause Horner's but did show that my ascending aorta was dilated to 5.5mm. My gp had noticed six months previous that my heart murmur was stronger than it had ever been and sent me for an ecocardiogram which showed dilation to 4.2mm. Upon hearing about the additional dilation he sent me to Dr. John Robertson at St. John's Hospital in Santa Monica.
Due to my travel schedule and his surgery schedule, the appointment did not occur until February 14th. In the meantime I continued to train and ran 12, 14, 15, 16 and 20 miles in Boston in 28 degree weather - all with no chest symptoms of any kind. My goal in the marathon was to run it in the same time as my first one at age 61 - 4:37 which at age 72 would put me in the top 10 in my age group. I believe I could have done it. Dr. Robertson did a CT scan and called me that evening on my way to a Laker game and told me I had a chronic aortic dissection and would need surgery. I wanted a second opinion and went to Dr. Steven Tabak, cardiologist, in Beverly Hills, who set an appointment for me with Dr. Alfredo Trento at Cedars Sinai Hospital. He had an opening the following week on February 26th and I decided to proceed.
He did a dacron graft and replaced my aortic valve with a bovine valve. With my trained body, my blood returned to normal in 4 days instead of the usual 4 to 6 weeks. After two weeks, Dr.Tabak detected a heart flutter and last week I went back to Cedars for a cardioversion which worked and returned my heartbeat to normal.
I am doing cardio rehab at UCLA. Last week one of my doctors told me he does not want me doing excessive exercise which would cause elevated blood pressure which means no marathons or half marathons or century bike rides. He said I could play competitive tennis, run 6 miles and bike 30 miles. I am not ready to accept this although at the moment it is a non-issue only eight weeks out from surgery. I am interested to hear what other people have experienced and have to say about this.