You may have seen my post HERE about what I went through last November (2011). What I didn’t blog is I had to do it all over again the end of January. What did I have to do? Open heart surgery. Sucky. November and January marked my third and fourth OHS in my lifetime and yes, they very likely will not be my last. But it’s what I’ve got to do to live and I’m extremely grateful that I get to live as normal life as anyone else in between those trying times.
So. What is this post about?
Open heart surgery recovery?
Finding my strength?
Yes. To all of the above. When I found out I needed another open heart surgery, I was not surprised. I felt fine, never had symptoms from my congenital heart defect, but yet I went in to every cardiac appointment with my fingers crossed. I knew that luck had to expire one day. There’s really nothing you can do to prepare yourself for going through something you know is going to be so painful, so time consuming, and so emotionally draining. I cried. A lot. I talked to my husband about my last wishes. I had anxiety attacks a lot. I became a patient once again.
Fast forward to the end of November. Surgery came and it was every bit as painful as I knew it’d be. Recovery kicked in and that was every bit as frustrating as I knew it’d be. I wasn’t feeling as great as I thought I should, but I also tend to push myself. That’s when we got devastating news that the valve I just had put in had collapsed. Surgery failed. We were doing it all over again. ALL OVER AGAIN. I remember laying on the table in the cardiac cath lab and my cardiologist telling me it’s what they suspected. I cried, no, I bawled. It was too much to keep it together. In fact, I’m getting emotional all over again remembering the dread I felt at that moment. Then came the anger. The “why me”. Then the need to get it over with and move on with my life. So 8 weeks after my third OHS, I went in for my fourth. Ugh. There was more pain the fourth time and more emotional junk as I faced another recovery process.
Recovery. Oh, recovery. You suck. You took 5 months of my life. You forced me to sleep on my back for 18 weeks. You forced me to not be able to pick up my daughter for 5 months. I couldn’t even sit up without help. You put me into a dark place. I tried to remain positive, I really, really tried. But depression, no income for 5 months, a drained savings, and the hospital wanting their money from two open heart surgeries made it hard. Really hard. Somehow, with the most amazing support system of family and friends, I made it through each day.
Now, the real reason for this post. I have an amazing friend in Washington who’s name is Susan. Susan showed myself and a group of fellow friends a video of her CrossFitting. She lifted amazing amounts of weight. I remember thinking, “No way, no way she’s putting MORE weight on! This is crazy!” She was/is kicking butt at being strong and getting fit and it shows in her mentality. I cried at her accomplishment. I wanted to feel that way. I wanted to be strong. I was SO tired of being a patient. I wanted to get better.
5 months after my third OHS & 3 months after my fourth, I went in for my “lift my restrictions” cardiologist appointment. I asked for clearance to start CrossFit. My cardiologist asked that I wait a couple more months. I disagreed. I couldn’t go on like that any longer, the negativity was exhausting. The self loathing, the emotional ups and downs were draining anything good out of my life and hadn’t I just survived a boat load to live?! So she got my surgeon on the phone and they both agreed to let me CrossFit. Two days later on April 27th, I walked into CrossFit 208. Half of me was excited, half of me wanted to turn around and run. What was I getting myself into and how in the hell did I think I was going to do anything CrossFitters did. Sara greeted me with a smile and we chatted about CrossFit and then went into a simple baseline workout, just to see where I was at in my fitness. Let me tell you, that was a big fat negative on the fitness! I was shocked that I couldn’t even do one girl pushup. Not even close to being able to push myself up. But I knew I needed this, I just didn’t realize how much I needed it. How much CrossFit would change my life. It sounds corny and all fitness buff esq, I know. However, CrossFit for me is SO much more than looking good. Don’t get me wrong, that part kicks ass! But the #1 reason I love CrossFit is that it brought me out of my depression. A heavy, dark depression lifted with every week that I made it through CrossFit. Every week that I progressed on something and was lifted up with empowerment from it. Before I knew it, I was happy. My life was feeling positive and positive things were happening. I owe it to CrossFit, it’s why I’m so passionate about it, why I love it so much, why I wish for everyone to experience it.
And because everyone loves progress pictures, I’ve got some for you!
These are all taken my first week at CrossFit, 3 Months, & 6 Months (taken today as 6 months is tomorrow, the 27th). I’ve still got a long way to go, but I’ve come a long way too!