What I know from having a heart ‘condition’

I was born with Hyper-trophic cardiomyopathy and Noonan’s Syndrome.  I have a thickened left ventricle, myocardial disarray, I was born missing just enough of the gene that develops our heart that it affected the growth of my heart, my heart sits slightly to the middle of my chest as opposed to mostly in the left part of my chest and and there is something up with my pulmonary valve.  My heart is designated as ‘abnormal’…..ya think? Despite all of this, my heart beats exactly as my ‘abnormal’ heart should.

On November 1st, 2010, I had surgery and I became the (mostly) proud new owner of an ICD, implantable cardioverter defibrillator.  It’s weird to have  this thing connected to my heart and under the muscle and sometimes I roll over in the night and if I roll to far onto my left side it sits on the nerves that run down my arm into my hand and I wake up with a fuzzy feeling in my left hand.  It’s weird to know that I will have this for the rest of my life.  It sits under the muscle, which looks nice with bikinis and sun-dresses but will cause problems when they have to go back in to replace the battery in 5-8 years because they have to cut back through the muscle and it takes longer to heal.  It’s frustrating because as much as I have had my heart condition for my whole life, I have only had this device for 2 years and 9 months and 14 days and there is this thing, the size of a pager (you remember those?) sitting in my chest above my left breast that will be with me for the rest of my life.  A device that, should it come to that, will send volts through my heart to get it back in it’s proper rhythm.  The doctors liken it to being kicked in the chest by a horse.  Sounds delightful. It’s there as a precaution and though I wasn’t at first, I am grateful that I have it as backup.  But this isn’t about the device per se.

I’ve been doing CrossFit since April of 2013…..I wear a heart rate monitor when I am working out to watch my heart rate to make sure that it stays in the safe threshold.  I met with a new doctor, here in Victoria, on Monday and we started talking about CrossFit and the challenges that exist in the workouts for someone with my heart condition.  I don’t know, maybe it was because it was a different doctor or maybe I finally just clicked but I started to question why I did CrossFit.  I have got to say here, that I really like the WODs or the Workouts of the Day.  I know that there are haters & naysayers, but I am not trying to prove them wrong, I am simply stating my experience.  The box that I went to is full of amazing people, supportive people and is heaps of fun!  For me, it was never trying to finish something faster than the next person, I just really wanted to complete the workout in the time that it took me and my amazing, abnormal heart.  And so I did. Each time.  I finished every workout, scaled down, in my own time and there were people there to cheer me on…usually because they were all done.  But why did I do it?  With everything I know about my heart, why CrossFit? Why now? Was I doing it because I really loved it or because I was trying to prove something that I didn’t really need to prove…..ouch. Yes, I really liked the workouts and yes I was getting stronger and well, yes, there are really hot guys in CrossFit.  But why?

After I met with that doctor on Monday, I knew, deep down in my heart (haha), that it was time to let it go.  There were results from some tests that also probably added to this feeling, but for some reason, this time, I knew that I was perhaps doing it for the wrong reasons.  CrossFit will get you stronger and fitter and connected to an amazing community of like minded people.  It will get you caught up in the excitement of the games and you will want to eat bacon…so much bacon!  You will meet awesome people who will support you with your muscle up or push up.  You will want every T-Shirt out there that tells anyone and everyone that you do CrossFit!  Like I said, I am a fan.

But physically, it’s not for me…with all the challenges my heart has, it’s simply not fair for me to add more pressure to it.  And what sucks, is that it never will.  My heart will not ever be ‘normal’…it will not ever get ‘better’ nor, fingers crossed, will it ever get worse.  Yet, in all it’s glorious abnormal-ness, it does exactly what it is meant to. And I should be so damn grateful that it does.  And so I am. I am so damn grateful.  I think I did some growing up these last couple of days. I allowed wisdom to prevail over ego. I will still be active with walking and always with yoga. My Mom suggested ballroom dancing….hot guys there too!!

And I am sad and emotional and frustrated because I can be. I am walking away from something that I like.  Perhaps you think it silly to get upset over something like what I have talked about above. That’s fine…that’s your thought, not mine. I am alive and passionate and I feel and I connect and I have this amazing heart…have I told you about it? 🙂

What I know is this…we all have something. But it’s how we learn to live with those somethings, not fight against those somethings, and treating ourselves with kindness, that gives us the grace and the courage to learn something new about ourselves and to move forward.  Doing CrossFit taught me this.  It brought me to a place where I can finally let go of having to prove something when I never had anything to prove all along.  So when I asked earlier why CrossFit?  That was why.  So thank you CrossFit & CrossFit Zone, thank you Dr. Novak and Dr. Human, thank  you heart.  You all rock.

From my heart to yours,



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