Towards the end of each summer, I go back to my cardiologist for my annual check up. He conducts blood work and an EKG, we confirm I’m medically doing as well as I feel and off I go.
This has been standard practice for the last (nearly) 12 years.
This year though, things transpired differently.
The Doctor’s Office
After I arrive, a nurse brings me back to the room to get my vitals (blood pressure, pulse oxygenation, height & weight), then leaves me to change into a paper gown.
The (male) nurse returns providing all the standard “I’m going to touch you here” directives as he places the ECG electrode stickers on my chest and rib cage.
“You’re good. Sadly this is not my first rodeo here, but I appreciate the heads up,” I tell him with a smile.
He clips a series of cords, one to each sticker, that’ll connect to the main machine and take a reading of my heart’s function.
“Stay really still now,” he says.
[BEEP….click click click]
“All set,” he says as the machine prints out the reading.
He looks it over.
“Ok you can get dressed.”
A minute later he comes back in. “The doctor is going to come in and talk to you.”
Ummmm….that’s new, I think.
Usually I get a “looks good!” and I get dressed to head out for my blood draw.
This is different.
A New Diagnosis
A few minutes later, my cardiologist comes back in.
“Channing, have you heard of Wolff Parkinson White Syndrome?” he asks.
“Ugh, yes I have,” I groan. “I thought my doctors ruled it out during my first episode (a.k.a. heart attack) though?”
“Well, your EKG shows the Delta wave is there,” he starts to explain. “This isn’t the end of the world, but I’m going to need to refer you to the electrophysiologist for him to confirm this for me. He’ll probably want tests and then provide a recommendation on next steps.”
[NOTE: In layman’s terms, WPW is an extra electrical pathway in the heart that *could* set the heart into overdrive causing a variety of resulting issues.]
“Can I still run?” I ask. Yes, that is the main thing I am thinking about at this point. I have the (Chicago) marathon coming up.
I worked SO hard in training and we’re just a few weeks out. PLEASE don’t take running from me. Especially after I just got the word that yet another thing is wrong with my heart 🤦🏻♀️
He continues, “Look, in all likelihood you’ve had this through your last five marathons and it’s just now decided to show itself again.
You know your body. If you feel good, then you’re fine to run. If you start to feel off, then slow down or pack it in for the day. If you promise to really listen to your body, then you can still run.”
And with that, I left with a variety of tests to schedule and feelings to process.
The story continues in Part 2.