I took this picture on May 8, 2016. I captioned it “If only my breath lasted as long as my legs.” Hashtagged with something about having a rough training day and my plan to push forward.
On Tuesday, September 13th I learned why that day and most following it were atypically rough; that my breath was struggling due to an enlarged heart. Dilated Cardiomyopathy. Heart failure.
I was immediately put on medication to help my heart with the extra work it had been putting in. I was directed to decrease my exercise and specifically not to run.
My ejection fraction rate is 20%; average is 50-70%. I am “high functioning” and at this level should be too fatigued to perform daily activities. I work out anywhere from 1.5 to 3.5 hours per session 6 days a week. (Yeah, I might be a little extra and not a single ab to show for it). I teach 4-5 classes of 20-25 students each per semester. I am a practicing writer and artist. I shop and cook most of my own food. I’m tired I suppose but I live a life that would predicate that. So when I hear 20% I lean toward—though I can’t fully embrace—optimism. Clearly the number has not significantly impacted what we call “daily routine activities.” Except the One that I’m trying to spend life with.
When I tell you that heartbreak has not been part of my experience I don’t exaggerate. First of all I am not, and have never been, much of a dater. And of those few lucky ones—to hear me tell it anyway—not one ex-romantic partner has succeeded in breaking my heart. Even though our situations have sometimes been painfully disappointing I never experienced any that were capable of cracking or otherwise injuring my core. Lucky I guess. There were surface wounds, like I said, but not heartbreak.
Then I fell head over heels for Running—our possibilities, how we made such a good fit, our quiet time, our fights and make-ups; how we powered through our challenges. Couldn’t imagine myself suffering heartbreak at Its hands.
But once I ended up with a bruised heart because of Running. It didn’t meet me at the finish line like I thought we’d agreed on during a rigorous and rewarding training season. I loved It too much to end the relationship. So we stayed together. Things weren’t altogether the same—I was more tentative but still too in love to leave. And It showed up to other finish lines, or tried; we agreed the trying mattered most. My tentativeness began to subside.
So there we were living our happily ever after when our communication kept getting interrupted. The signal was poor. Eventually our conversations were curt and stilted—we probably secretly blamed each other for the poor signal. Turns out we were both wrong. (As far as doctors have so far surmised. This is idiopathic—without known cause).
And this time, the hurtful disappointment feels more like the heartbreak of lore. Literally speaking, I suppose, it kind of is. My wittle heart is broke and needs fixing. Which has forced us into taking a break while I pray my heart will heal and that I will find myself back in Running’s arms again.
I am scared that we may have to call it altogether quits. And that is heartbreaking.
I am scared I will not find another love; that another will not find me. That is heartbreaking.
I am scared of dying young. That is frustrating. As you probably guessed, I have a lot of shit I’m trying to do here, yo. Yes, Boston is one of those things.
I am angry that we put in more work than Average and Mediocre who seem to never find themselves on the side of circumstance they deserve.
I am not interested in being strong—I already know I’m that—unless it involves getting sweaty and/or coaxing muscles from their sheaths of repose. I’m not even interested in being sad. I am but truth is it’s fairly useless. Conversely a little less than a little part of me is excited to write another chapter in my epic miracle story. And of course, like all y’all who are boo’d up can understand: I’m trying to get my Running boo back home. So I gotta get off here for now. Gotta chill out to mend my heart, Its rightful home, for Its return.