When I first discovered that I had a hole in my heart, I was told that for six months afterwards I would need to take it easy. I needed to give the heart time to grow tissue over the plug that was
placed in the hole, otherwise, if I fell too hard or anything like that, the plug might come loose and it could kill me. That meant no contact sports, which was fine by me since I did not play contact sports. It also meant no bike riding or skiing or anything over active.
I could live with six months of staying quiet. Then when they fixed the hole, they discovered that my heart was in failure and I needed to have an AICD, and implantable defibrillator placed in my chest.
After that operation I would need to take it easy for another six months. And again, I was fine with that. Being an anomaly as I am, the original plug did not take six months for the heart tissue to grow around and seal it. It took a full five years. I was finally able to go sledding in my back yard in winter again. And I did. And I had a ball.
At one point I fell off of the sled and grazed my right leg, hip and butt on the ice covered snow. It didn’t hurt really, but because I am on blood thinners, I got a really nasty enormous bruise that looked a lot worse that it was.
A few days after that fall, I had a physical and my doctor asked me what happened when he saw the bruise. I told him I was sledding and fell off the sled and skidded down the hill. He was appalled. He was shocked. He was furious.
“Are you crazy?” He yelled at me. “You can kill yourself!”
I thought he was being really over dramatic. I fell.
“Everybody falls off a sled.” I said. confused by his over reaction.
“Yes, but not everybody has leads going into their heart from and AICD. If you fall off the sled hard enough, the leads can detach and you could bleed to death!” he said with real fear in his face.
“And I could fall down a flight of stairs leaving your office and break my neck. I’m not going to stop living” I told him.
So I continued to sled and I bought new mountain bikes for my wife and myself. This weekend we went riding and although I admittedly had difficulty riding up inclines, I did it. I made it. I went to the highest point on our hilly property and rode full speed down the same sledding hill, going maybe 30 MPH, the wind blowing past me, the bike vibrating over every rough bump I flew over. And I was loving it. So what if I fell. There was a bigger chance I could break my neck than dislodge leads that were now anchored into my heart tissue for twelve years now.
I was free. I was alive. I was living and I wasn’t going to have the fear of what might be, stop me from loving it.
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