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ICU to 26.2

On April 4, 2011, David lay in the Intensive Care Unit speaking with his cardiologist about the events of the preceding day.

"How are you feeling?" Dr. Gange asked.

"A little better.  I am hoping for a pair of clean underwear today too," I said.

He smiled. "Well it looks like you made some progress since you got here. Your ejection fraction is up a little."

Not that I felt like moving, but I asked, "When can I leave?"

"It will be a few more days," he replied.

I was in the ICU for six nights before they let me go home. I was fifty-two and so far had survived a Viral Myocarditis. I went home with a half dozen medications: Beta blockers, ACE Inhibitors, blood thinners and diuretics. 

When I arrived at the house, I went up stairs to my bedroom and took off my clothes. I pulled off some of the dozens of EKG contacts, they were everywhere. I finally headed for the shower. As I stood there, I just cried. I don't know exactly why. I was relieved to be home and I guess had missed having a quiet moment alone. Maybe the gravity of what really happened hit me. I took a long and glorious shower, and I cried some more.

My recovery took eight long months before I was able to return to work full time. During that time I worked with the doctors to get my life back on track. I was encouraged to walk and eat a more nutritious diet (translation - lose 70 pounds).  I started to walk down the street and back. I couldn't even make it around the block. I made a little progress every day. On April 18, 2011, I went to watch the Boston Marathon.

I lived one mile from the course and had my daughter drop me off. I prayed I would be able to make it back home.

The race was incredibly inspiring - something so emotional about it all. Being up close, standing on the sidewalk, you could read tattoos and sportswear brand names. Beneath the perspiration you could see the intensity of personal strength and emotion.

It seemed to me that most everyone was running for a reason that was not about winning or best times, it was something deeper.

On the way home, I walked and dreamed of running. Could I run a marathon? I was pretty certain I had missed my opportunity in life to run 26.2 miles.

I climbed into bed to take a much needed nap and continued to think about running.

Deep inside of me, a dream was born. I started using the Couch to 5K program. It took a year. For the anniversary of my stay in Casa d' ICU, I ran the Run with Heart 5K in Clinton, MA. A year later, I ran the Hyannis Half Marathon (Hyannis, MA) in the freezing rain.

My cardiologist was thrilled with my recovery. I continued to think about running a marathon, but I still doubted that I could finish. I had both knee and rotator cuff surgery in the midst of all that was going on with my heart. The spring of 2013 brought warmer weather and longer training runs. Having been fitted for a new pair of shoes, my runs were more comfortable. I decided to start training for a Fall 2013 marathon. I didn't register, but I penciled the date on my calendar. Pencils have erasers, after all.

I kept training six days a week.

A marathon was not just on my bucket list nor was it a test of my physical strength and mental toughness; it was the proving ground of my personal faith. The encouragement I received from friends and runners eventually outweighed my own doubts. I could do this...eventually.

The conflict over whether to run The Cape Cod Marathon or just put it off raged within me. And not solely because I lacked confidence in my ability and had a couple of disastrous LSDs, but another health concern had surfaced. The blood test for prostate cancer, although not very accurate, came back in the danger zone. The doctor wanted to schedule a biopsy. I just didn't know. Add to that a lay off at work, and it was hard to focus on such a huge personal accomplishment.

I finally committed to registering after a woman named Cherie commented on a Facebook group post. "David, I ran a marathon while I was having chemo treatments. I decided that it was six hours of my life which I could control." I was more convinced than I had been. As I clicked submit button on the registration form, I told myself that I could still back out. Of course I had trained, and most of it was in the heat and humidity of the New England summer. As the long miles wore on there always came a point in every run in which my heart rate skipped up to near maximum, trying to provide oxygen to fuel the clamor of its muscles. The confidence builders, the long slow training runs were all virtually disastrous, ending in more walking than running.

Fast forward to October 27, 2013. At 8:28 a.m., a jazz performer sang an a-cappella rendition of America the Beautiful which rang out into the cool fall air. The sun was just peaking over the buildings on Falmouth's Main Street (MA) as I stood with my hand over my heart. In that moment, I felt proud to be an American, and part of a marathon. These patriotic songs seemed to be more meaningful since the bombing of the Boston Marathon.

The starting cannon boomed and the first of over 1000 runners moved across the starting line. I switched on my GPS watch and tucked my iPhone in the arm holder. Crossing the timing mat, I high-fived my friend Tom Frazier who was working as a volunteer on the course.

As a game-time decision, I chose to use Jeff Galloway's walk/run method instead of running continuously. It worked perfectly – especially in the twelve miles of rolling hills.

Five hours, seven minutes and twenty-three seconds after I began - and 938 days since I lay in the Framingham Heart Center - I crossed the finish line.

"I did it. I made it all the way from the ICU to the finish line of a marathon."    

October 27, 2013

105 votes + -

20 comments:

clarity8796 wrote 66 months ago:
Awesome story of courage!
MarkaStone wrote 66 months ago:
Inspirational
ILoveGingerNut wrote 66 months ago:
Well, this is inspiring. Thank you for sharing.
Anonymous wrote 66 months ago:
I'm so glad you shared this. SO inspirational! You are my hero!
BubbleButt wrote 66 months ago:
Thank you so much for sharing. I almost lost my mum due to an infection of the heart at the beginning of 2015 and lost my dad suddenly from a heart condition this year. I'm re-starting my journey to get healthier this coming year as I know I will end up just like them if I don't. Your story has inspired me to just keep swimming and I will get there. Congratulations on finishing the marathon. You should be enormously proud of yourself :)
Anonymous wrote 66 months ago:
Such a wonderful
Accomplishment!!!
lethaj364 wrote 65 months ago:
David, Congratulations for facing and conquering a "giant" before you. An inspiration to me. I pray your 2017 bring more physical strength and financial prosperity. In Him.
PrettyBare wrote 65 months ago:
It's such a "breath of fresh air" when people, such as yourself, live life to its fullest....because you "can." It is inspiring to know that people exist who try things and keep on going when their own body turns against them. You overcame and you conquered. Good for you!! Congrats!!
barefoot75 wrote 65 months ago:
Quite the inspriation! Great job!
almenvm wrote 65 months ago:
This is just what we needed to get our life on track for 2017! I am motivated to do what I need to be healthy...I truly cannot believe I am back at this point again in my life, thanks!
DrTrushna wrote 65 months ago:
I got chills as I read through your story of courage. It takes a lot. To start AND to keep going the way you have. Keep this up! You are an inspiration David :)
Will2Bslim wrote 65 months ago:
Truly inspiring!Your story has provided motivation for me to meet my goals this year as I am convinced that I too can do it. Thanks for sharing and I hope that you will be blessed with great health and happiness.
Sheks41191 wrote 65 months ago:
This is amazing. What an inspiration.

Casa d'ICU had me in stitches.
paggorham wrote 65 months ago:
This is amazing. Such an inspiration!
selenrr wrote 65 months ago:
Amazing!! Thanks for sharing your inspiring story!
wlk4fun647 wrote 65 months ago:
Wow! What an inspiring story! Congratulations on you recovery and finding the you inside~
Waitangi21 wrote 65 months ago:
Very inspiring story, thank you
shabbal wrote 65 months ago:
***My eyes are stinging***Thank you for sharing a true awesome story of personal accomplishment and dedication. It made my day and made me realize that I don't need to procrastinate over my little excuses to skip exercise.

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