Wednesday, September 14, 2016

another bucket-list item getting crossed off soon!

I just got the green-light from my doctor to travel to 7,000ft. I'm going to the Grand Canyon!
Not many people realize but northern Arizona is on a plateau. The average elevation is about 5,000 feet with high points in Flagstaff and Grand Canyon Village proper.

Went I tried this trip as an un-repaired person, the elevation made me sick, so though I was in the desert, I never got to the Canyon: so close yet so far.

Well, soon I'll be able to finish what I started. I just bought the tickets today! I'm so over-the-moon about this.

The doctor did give me a few conditions: no hiking, activities that require exertion and bring back photos. I can do that. This trip will be a lazy-girl's trip: a few days in Sedona: new-age capital of America, perfect place to get my spa-on. Road trip through Monument Valley, Helicopter ride in the Canyon, a tiny bit of hiking into Antelope Canyon (if my breathing is fine).

In the meantime, I've started my swimming lessons. I'm not cyanotic but I was still "blue" when I got out of the pool: cold. My private instructor seems like a nice guy. He's a paramedic so he gets the vocabulary ("I was cyanotic and I still take my sats" is not lost on him).  It's going to take a long time to get comfortable in water to learn. Not to worry, my trip to Hawaii isn't for a few years. My big bucket list item is swimming up to a waterfall in Hawaii after my full marathon.

Tomorrow I leave for my first Congenital Cardiac camp. I used to look forward to meeting new congenital patients, now I'm not sure how comfortable I'll be at this (adult) camp. It seems there may be a lack of understanding as to what boundaries are. We've already had discussion on FB about photos and all posts want them taken whereas I said "no thanks for me". I've been told to "loosen up". They don't get that I'm in forensics-ish and I try to guard my privacy. (I don't study the psychology of crime but I am a therapist to ex-cons.)  I don't even have my real name or location on this blog, why would I chance a client Googling me only to find a picture of me doing whatever shenanigans. Many of these people don't work so they don't get it. Hopefully that was one person's opinion.

Lots of things going on.
Amazing what stable health will give a person. Never take your health for granted: it's your freedom!

Monday, September 5, 2016

Is this what 'normal' is?

I'm not sure how interested I am in writing about living with congenital heart disease any more as I don't exactly match the premise of this whole blog.
I started it as an unprepared middle age girl and now I'm repaired. Granted it's not a full repair and there's work to come in the future but for now I'm living a life I didn't even know how to dream.

I may not be an athlete but I can walk 5km, I am learning to swim, I'm whitewater rafting (granted with a tour guide) and I'm not ever blue - ever.

Last weekend I went on a girl's road trip to a beautiful part of our province. On the hike there were several stair-cases that lead to caves. My friend was concerned as I was taking a breather. Yes, I still walk slowly - I'm middle aged after all and just now starting to be physical so this body has a long road ahead to build it strong enough to keep up with others. However, as I took that breather on the bench I looked up the stair case and gathered the strength and stamina to do it. I understand my friend's concern as she saw just how fragile I was in the hospital, just how blue I was. A dear friend by my side on every step of this journey. But I am a water ox, and get up and meet a challenge, I will. So I did it, I climbed the flights of stairs. Then I jumped the guard rail and explored the dark cave. I had such a good time. I fell, I scraped myself, I had a moment of panic in the dark, but I did it and I love that above all, I am challenging myself: not my physical limitations but my own fear and anxieties.

This weekend I did the same thing by jumping out of our raft. The tour guide took us to a calm part of the river and offered time for people to take in a swim. (It's scheduled in the package). I really wanted to, to push myself. I don't like being in water where I can't see the bottom, and I don't like being in natural water where I can see the bottom (sea weed, muck, etc.). See my conundrum. I'm complicated! I moved to the edge of the raft, turned outwards and jumped in. It was awesome until I did start panicking: the water wasn't as smooth as I could see. I started floating away from the raft so I wanted back in. Eventually I "swam" back and was yanked back up. Ma belle looked at me and said "I can't believe you just did that". She couldn't get over the shock of this side of myself.

Nothing is as bad, scary or hard as waking up in ICU, hooked up to a machine, not being able to speak or breath. I didn't go through all of that to continue to be a scaredy cat. The rafting was fun. The road trip was fun. The cave crawling was fun. I've had a fun summer.

Most of all, I've had fun forgetting about my heart. It's repaired but my left pulmonary atresia remains intact. That's for another time. Until then, I'm living.