Friday, March 7, 2008


My husband and I scurried around the kitchen this morning while my 3 year old bopped his new red balloon that I blew up yesterday around the house. Here's one of the day's first conversations:

"Daddy, I know why these balloons don't stay up."

Why Nick?

"Because they don't have strings."

To which my "know-it-all" 8 year old replied, "No Nick. It's because they don't have calcium."

Love those kinds of conversations. They give us all a good smile inside don't they?

Then the day got interesting. I headed to Portland with little Nick in tow. He's such a trouper. He goes everywhere with me. I love his company and will miss him dearly when he's at preschool next year.
Anyway, we head to see a Pulmonologist. Last time I checked, I was a super healthy-- 10+ hr/week of training-- athlete.
Last fall I had some odd symptoms. I had some trouble breathing. I had trouble getting a full breath. I rarely had trouble while active. It was the at rest times that gave me stress anyway. After my first Half Ironman, I was basically hyperventilating. But I think that was a combination of a 5+ hr race and total overwhelming happiness at my success. Not mention I was Tired and kicked my a-- the final mile. So that was all reasonable.
After the Chicago marathon I had trouble too. But, again, it was over 90 degrees and very humid. I pushed hard for over 3 1/2 hours. I just could Not get a deep breath until I got into A/C though. It was just different for me.
From time to time I continued to have that feeling. I would be driving along or talking or sitting on the couch and I just could Not get a deep breath. I was a tad concerned to be honest but I ignored it nonetheless.
Then reports came out (not sure if they were true or not) that the man who died during the Chicago marathon had Mitral valve prolapse. Alert! I have that. Was that why he died?
Well, I knew that a conversation with my Dr. was a must. I just wanted reassurance that I would be fine and that I would not become one of those people with an underlying condition who dropped mysteriously during some endurance race. I could not pursue my Ironman dream with my 3 kids at home without that answered.
And so the fun began.
All in one day I had:
A Stress Test
An echocardiogram
A respiratory function test
Chest XRays and
Some pulmonary function (?) test to see if I had blood clots in my lungs!!
All that alone was enough to make me have trouble breathing.
Diagnosis: Pulmonary hypertention??? What does that mean? Ugh.
My Doctor is absolutely wonderful. He actually saved my husband's life back in 1997 and I trust him with my life as well. So, I knew he was doing what he felt should be done. Despite the diagnosis, he was not alarmed. No blog clots (BIG phew), No more mitral valve evident (oh, that's good but that's WHY I came in the first place!) and all in all good stuff goin' on inside me.
But....there is this increased blood flow within your lungs.
That was in November. I saw the pulmonologist today for my followup/consult. Clearly it wasn't too critical or we wouldn't have waited this long. I have been asymptomatic for a long time too. Today was kind of a nuisance. I have to have Another test.
You see, the normal #s are 5-10 (not sure what they represent) and mine was 45. Hmmm, that's not so good. I am just a mild/maybe case however. He is not too worried. He thinks I'll be a great "case" for the cardiologists since I am so active. Lovely.
I was also informed I have 60-70% Greater lung capacity than normal!!! Cool!! Right? Well, not always. Sometimes it is the signal of a problem and that could cause these symptoms I've had. However, he said that swimmers often have greater lung capacity. And since I was swimming all through my developmental years, that could be the reason.
So, according to his nurse, I need another "echocardiogram ASAP." Why asap? I thought they weren't worried. I will be using a recumbant bike while they do an ultrasound on my heart. That will be pretty cool to see I admit. Not that I can understand what I'm looking at.
I want this over.
I KNOW I am ok.
It is another reminder for me to appreciate health and life in general though.

I hope you all breath easy tonight.



Marni Sumbal, MS, RD said...

I hope everything gets better. ALL athletes have something to remind them why they should be thankful for great workouts and great races. Let me know how things go :)
I'm going to do your BIG swim workout this morning!! :)

Anonymous said...

I'm glad there are no more signs of MVP :)

Good job getting everything checked are so fit, I bet everything will be good!

hmmm...I always thought balloons were low on calcium.

GetBackJoJo said...

I'm eager to hear what those numbers mean. It's going to be fine. I know it.
I love the calcium comment. Hysterical!