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ICU25K - ICU to 5K

Just about a year ago (April 4) I was in ICU after I suffered congestive heart failure. I was on oxygen for a week. I never left the bed for 3 days. On day 4 it took all my energy to walk the perimeter of the Heart Care Unit twice a day. My 150 foot trek was followed by 3 hours of sleep.

All that has changed!

On April 2nd, two days before my heart trauma, I actually made 5k (3.1 miles) on the treadmill; it was a mix if jogging, running, and a ton of walking. My podiatrist told me to walk it before I ran it. I did intervals for the first mile and pretty much walked the rest. I weighed about 250 lbs.

After I got home from the hospital, I was on strict orders from my cardiologist. I was supposed to walk 20 minutes 3 times a week at whatever pace I could manage. My lungs were still full of fluid and I pretty much had to sleep standing up like a cow at night. One night I lay down for too long and woke up choking like I was drowning.

I was on so much medication that I couldn't remember much of anything. I complained to the hospital and insurance case workers when they called. But I keep on walking.

At my 2 week checkup they fitted me with a heart rate monitor that connected to an Android phone app. The insurance company also shipped me a scale that I had to weigh in on every day (still do) and blood pressure (BP) cuff. All of this was connected to a monitoring service. They knew where I was at all times, and pretty much everything about my heart, BP, and fluid retention.

"No heart rates over 120 bpm." the doctor said. I kept walking and sleeping. The Boston Marathon route is exactly 1 mile from my house. I got a ride down to watch, and I walked all the way back. That was April 18th.

At 6 weeks my heart function was much improved "Oh my God!" improved according to the nurse. "No heart rates over 130." the cardiologist warned. I walked and walked and walked. I walked every chance I could.

At 12 weeks the cardiologist raised my heart rate to 150 bpm. I started to run in July. First is was a mile of intervals three days a week, then it was 4, 5 and 6 days a week. I was too weak to run longer than 20 minutes, but I kept pushing.

In August I tore the meniscus in my knee, but I kept running and walking 6 days a week.

Every morning I was out there unless it was really raining, then I went to the YMCA gym.

In September I was running an entire mile, and doing intervals for about 8/10. That was all my knee could handle.

I even had my personal best time, an 8:12 mile with the bum knee.

October I had to ride a bike the knee so bad, and in November I took a couple of weeks off. I hated it! On December 8th I had surgery on my knee. I didn't walk or run for 4 weeks. Then I was released to do "half" of what I was doing before. So I started running a mile 2 times a week.

It was tough going both physically and emotionally. The physical therapist told me running would be a "treat." The surgeon said that I would always have to "take it easy." I even had a state handicapped permit hanging from my rear-view mirror.

After 8 weeks (late January), I decided I would just train for the 5K and see how it went. Twice a week I did the intervals with the 5 minute brisk warm up. It hurt, but I was making progress!

5 minutes of brisk walking followed by increasingly longer running intervals and shorter walking ones, that was the program. I was scheduled to actually finish the program on race day - March 25th. The truth is that I have only run 5K without walking or stopping 2 times ever.

Yesterday was a huge victory for me. I finished 88th out of 322. My time was 31:42. I finished first in my age group! I didn't walk, and I was only 22 seconds behind my trainer who is 33-years-old. However; better than all that, I beat the odds for my heart disease. 33% die, 33% need heart transplants, and over 32% never fully recover.

Running a 5K sure beats the alternatives.

171 votes + -

72 comments:

scapez wrote 106 months ago:
What a great post and an even better achievement...congrats for beating the odds and then some!
Shash27 wrote 106 months ago:
Congratulations! What an accomplishment!
bratgrrl wrote 106 months ago:
Congrats to you!!
johnwhitent wrote 106 months ago:
A great and inspiring story! Congrats
MndaLynn wrote 106 months ago:
You are awesome...and an inspiration for me every day!!!
demery12371 wrote 106 months ago:
Just awesome!!! You inspire me to get off my tush and get back to my running.
bcampbell54 wrote 106 months ago:
This is an awesome and inspiring tale. You have much to be proud of.
BobbyDaniel wrote 106 months ago:
INSPIRATIONAL! You're "Can't" is a whole lot smaller now my friend!
LoveLiveLift wrote 106 months ago:
Congrats! This is an inspiring story!
Jenn728 wrote 106 months ago:
What an inspiring story!
sakamanojr wrote 106 months ago:
That is AWESOME my friend. Keep on crushing it :) So inspirational, thank you so much for sharing !
miovlb6 wrote 106 months ago:
Truly inspirational! Congrats!
GentlyLosing wrote 106 months ago:
Thanking God! With Him (plus all your hard work) all things are possible!
elissaz13 wrote 106 months ago:
Congratulations! I am printing your story and hanging it up at work (I am a nurse on a cardiac floor)!!
Johnny760 wrote 106 months ago:
Great Job. Truly inspiring!
Sassia wrote 106 months ago:
So inspirational!
0AmyMarie0 wrote 106 months ago:
Congratulations!! You are amazing!
kriztyn723 wrote 106 months ago:
Amazing story!!!
SunShineBeastess wrote 106 months ago:
Congrats...truly you have been blessed with a "new" life...keep up the great work and dedication!
billsica wrote 106 months ago:
After reading this, no one can have an excuse. Amazing.
SafireBleu wrote 106 months ago:
Wow what an amazing story. You are inspirational. I am sure there are lots of people that need to read or hear your story so that they can know that they can also beat the odds. WTG!
Schnuddelbuddel wrote 106 months ago:
Well if that's not inspirational!! Fantastic work. Keep it up, you're a real role model!
jennyb612 wrote 106 months ago:
Your story made me cry. Thanks for telling it and congratulations to you!
kiranicsmom wrote 106 months ago:
So inspiring! Thank you for sharing your story!
EvEboEvie wrote 106 months ago:
I've also been hospitalized with CHF (2008)... so happy for you. Let's keep moving and beat this!!!
kmruse wrote 106 months ago:
Thanks for sharing such an inspiring story.
MissO﹠A wrote 106 months ago:
Thank you for taking the time to write your story down and share with us! :D
Theresafinallygetsitright wrote 106 months ago:
Thank you for sharing!! What a terrific story :)
jenj1313 wrote 106 months ago:
Fantastic! Thanks for sharing. Way to stick with it even when it didn't feel good! All the best as you continue your journey.
Denjo060 wrote 106 months ago:
wow
jnhu72 wrote 106 months ago:
What an amazing victory! Great job and hope you continue to improve yourself everyday =)
Alex_is_Hawks wrote 106 months ago:
That's an amazing journey...congratulations to you for your perserverence and dedication!
Seminolegirl97 wrote 106 months ago:
Thank you for sharing. You made me cry. Amazing determination.... baby steps really do lead to Amazing Accomplishments! Keep up the outstanding recovery!
kree1023 wrote 106 months ago:
What an amazing story! You truly are an inspiration...thank you for sharing!
JeninBelgium wrote 106 months ago:
What a great and inspirational post-I am printing and keeping it on my office wall!

one reason I exercise is to stave off the eventual chf that long life obesity leads to (yes I know other things can lead to chf as well but obesity is definitely a huge factor) anyhoo I recently read a research article via the mayo clinic website on weight training post hospitalization for CHF-
I couldn't find the original article I read but maybe this is something to discuss with your cardiologist and your physiologist- I wish you continued success!
SarahMorganP wrote 106 months ago:
Awesome job! I can't wait until I can also run a 5k without stopping. You are an inspiration for sure!
Juxtaposie wrote 106 months ago:
Congrats to beating the odds! What an amazing triumph!
michie27 wrote 106 months ago:
Amazing story, thanks for sharing!
lisadlocks wrote 106 months ago:
Great Job! Congrats on your ongoing achievements and putting in the time in spite of the pain. You are an example of motivation! Thank you soooo much for your beautifully written blog.
jlc1243 wrote 106 months ago:
YAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAY!! Awesome, just awesome. Did I mention, that's awesome!?!?
goodasgoldilox165 wrote 106 months ago:
Great to hear of your success - a well deserved victory over the disease and an inspiration to those dealt the same terrifying hand! This has particular reverb for me - my husband's story is so close (ICU with a head injury after a hit/run accident - paralysis for some months -the same chilling prognosis: usually 1/3rd die - 1/3rd are permanently affected - 1/3rd recover... only in the first weekend on ICU half the ward died) and he too watched the 5K race one year and against all the odds was able to complete it the next. (He points out that he finished after elderly-ladies and lame-dogs). He has continued to gain stamina and regained almost all the powers he lost + real gratitude for life and health. I am tremendously proud of him. Best wishes to your family too - what a race they have run with you.
Ralphrabbit wrote 106 months ago:
Well done mate! I am sure your heart feels better for it!
ProudMomoftwo wrote 106 months ago:
Inspirational story !! Thank you for sharing it and I pray you have continued success!
2hmom wrote 106 months ago:
So glad all went well for you. What an inspiration. Thank you for sharing.
fitnessyeoja wrote 106 months ago:
really inspiring. thanks for sharing!
wisebadger53 wrote 106 months ago:
Thanks for sharing your story. You are the epitome of dedication and willpower, and I congratulate you on all of your accomplishments! I am truly honored to have you as one of my MFP friends, and look forward to hearing about all of your future successes!
kellicruz1978 wrote 106 months ago:
You are a such an inspiration. I am going to share your story with my family and friends.
mommanurse33 wrote 106 months ago:
Oh, my. I LOVE your story! So incredibly awesome and inspiring. Thank you for sharing it, and congrats on your accomplishments!! Blessings to you!
regalreg wrote 106 months ago:
Congratulations!!! Great progress and determination.
Hoppymom wrote 106 months ago:
Congratulations Dave! You have worked hard to get where you are. What an excellent role lodel you are to the rest of us! Keep up the good work!
crhaws wrote 106 months ago:
What an inspirational story - thank you for sharing it!!
swthrtsmrf wrote 106 months ago:
Congratulations! You are truely blessed and amazing.

Your story is powerful and needs to be shared. I also wanted to cry while reading this.I have watched what congestive heart failure can do to a person. My brother-in-law who was 24 suffered from it. He was so sick that he was not able to get better without the help of all his medications and was kept on them until the end. Sadly he did not recover from it.

Keep up your great work! And continue to inspire others.
Linda1053 wrote 106 months ago:
Amazing so love to read your life. I am pleased for you and wish you the very best for the future. You are an inspiration.
tracyco66 wrote 106 months ago:
Wow! congrats and great job!
srp2011 wrote 106 months ago:
Wow, that is inspirational - thanks for showing us determination and persistence in action!
SixCatFaerie wrote 106 months ago:
David, you continue to inspire me!!! Much love!
blueeyedcristi wrote 106 months ago:
What an inspiration! I need to bookmark this and come back to it anytime I'm feeling down b/c of health issues.
12skipafew99100 wrote 106 months ago:
You are to be emulated. So sorry about you knee injury.
irisheyes226 wrote 106 months ago:
So proud of you!! What an amazing accomplishment!
TinaA72 wrote 106 months ago:
Your story is so inspiring. I have never had any heart problems and still have not run a complete 5K. So, the next time I think about skipping my 5K training or stopping it altogether, I'll think of you. All my prayers to you and your family. Good Job!
gogojodee wrote 106 months ago:
That's awesome! I love Boston (Marathon) glad that you were able to watch...think about qualifying in a couple of years. I'm definitely thinking about it! It's all about the little steps. :]
mazie61 wrote 105 months ago:
Very inspiring! I wish you continued success!
SmartFunGorgeous wrote 105 months ago:
John, you're so amazing!
Mustangsally1000 wrote 105 months ago:
Amen!!!!
millsjam1 wrote 105 months ago:
I love your grit and determination. Congratulations on your accomplishments! You inspire me every time I read your blog.
felicity866 wrote 105 months ago:
just makes me proud to see what a success you have had over the last 12 months....a true inspiration and lucky for us because no one else writes a blog quite like yours!! thanks!!
brendacooks wrote 105 months ago:
What an amazing and inspirational story! Living well is the best revenge! Thanks for sharing.
odditblue wrote 105 months ago:
Yep! You just ROCK!!! Keep on it man. You're making quite a difference in a lot of folks' lives. I see what you're doing and it always gives me so much encouragement.... Thanks for that. =)
sla67 wrote 105 months ago:
you are an inspiration!! i will run my first 5k this may, and after a lot of starts and stops for various health reasons, i am back on track. first week i have done 5 days in a row. you did not give up! so proud of you and will be so proud of me too very soon!
kmacgera wrote 105 months ago:
I used 5K's to rehab, too. Gave me something to shoot for. Your story is inspirational!
JfMarrs wrote 104 months ago:
Another for the best of compilation

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