“Running is one of the most positive, powerful gifts” Dr Natalie Stavas

“Running is one of the most positive, powerful gifts”.. Dr Natalie Stavas...Her Story

I have had trouble with posting.  I’ve tried a number of times only to complete a few incomplete thoughts.  Dr Natalie’s story has helped me try again -her quote is so right on the mark.  This “gift” should not be taken for granted. Today i ran around cooper river -roughly 3.6 miles.  I tried about a week ago and had mild discomfort the balance of the day.  Actually a week ago was the 1st run I attempted since March 15th.  I’ve been training  for “The Bob Potts” marathon May 25th and had been cursing along slow but well.  Had my millage up to 40+ miles per week with two runs per week 10-12+ miles.   I’ve since decided to forgo “Bob Potts”.

March 15th was when a very popular local 5K race in Haddonfield took place.  I try to do this each year, sometimes as my 1st event of the year.  This year was no exception.  Nice weather -great turnout.  Am standing at the starting line with a little apprehension – why I was apprehensive I wouldn’t know until about a mile into the race.  “Where did this elephant come from?”  That’s the best I can describe the feeling.  An elephant decided to rest on my chest.

Ok a little background- 35 years ago the same elephant showed up – back then I would sometimes leave my house  mid morning and return late afternoon.  No GPS or route maps back then, so I can only guess the millage.  The elephant showed up one day.  A Dr. running buddy suggested I get a stress test done – Well I failed it back then and spent three days in the hospital (Cardiac Caths, Thallium scans and other assorted tests)  I checked myself out of Presbyterian Hospital and 3 days later ran the Sea Isle 1/2 Marathon -(Yes it was a 1/2 marathon back then – or billed as one anyway) in 1:25 without the elephant.  The discomfort hung around for a while but I soon learned that if I hyperventilated prior to starting my runs, he would not have a chance to settle in.  Go figure…..

Well after the Haddonfield race, which I finished by walking and jogging every 100 yards, I went for another stress test.  Again I failed.  My only consolation is that it took them a while to fail me…It was an interesting visit.  When I got to the Cardiology center for the test I was told that the Cardiologist would not be administering the stress test and that a PA (Physician Assistant)  would be there in his steed.  They wired me up..(This always reminds me of  Grace Slick’s 60’s quote “Wire me up baby”!!  but they would not have known who she was so I remained silent)  – wired up and walking, then jogging, then jogging on an incline there was silence in the room with the PA and her assistant very focused on the ekg results zipping off the printer.  At some point the PA suddenly left the room and 2 minutes later the cardiologist appears.  He is also focused on the the paper results.  By now am sitting in the chair next to the treadmill as the three of them are still reading my “holy grail”.  Finally I had to say something so I said…”Ok…any thoughts?”  Silence…Pregnant silence.   At last the cardiologist says in a little elevated voice…”This is serious…”  Well a couple days later am back in Presbyterian Hospital, almost 35 years later, getting prepped for a cardiac catheterization.  The scary part is not knowing what will happen because this is done with realtime decisions depending on what they find.  You are wake the whole time, so there’s no waiting for the results.  Interestingly the OR was visited by a group of Med students that day and the Dr/Surgeon was describing the procedure in realtime.  If it weren’t for it being  me laying there, the play by play was fascinating…  Results – LAD 62% blocked – Short stent inserted.  Chronic blockage (interestingly may have been blocked for 35 years) in one other artery that has grown other branches at the top of the blocked artery.   Thank you Dr Groh and team at Presbyterian!

Plavix, Stains and bears…Oh my…  Well on the one hand am so thankful that bi-pass and value replacement were ruled out –  Am also excited that I get back approx 38% blood flow with the stent -should help my endurance eh?

Since the Stent implant I’ve taken it easy.  I have been able to walk around the CR each day and am finally feeling confident enough to slog around.  Last week my slog around was not good.  I ended up with , as I said earlier, discomfort the balance of the day.  I think I’ve figured out why this happen.  The Cardiologist prescribed a beta blocker upon me failing the stress test.  My resting heart rate is typically low 50’s high 40’s so slowing my heart rate is not conducive to running.  I do not like to self-diagnosis but I’ve stopped the beta blocker and believe the results were no discomfort and a enjoyable a CR loop this morning.   “Running is one of the most positive, powerful gifts” –  I do intend to discuss the beta blocker with my cardiologist.

The adage ” you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone…” has rung so true these past couple of weeks.  I am blessed in so many ways – wonderful wife, great kids, grand kids, good health (for the most part)  and the gift of running.  I don’t know if I will be able to get back to where I was, but that’s ok, as long as I can I will run.

Boston is next week and I so enjoy the stories that surround this event.  I’ve followed some local runners training with great admiration and certainly with a shared passion.  I saw Dr Natalie Stavas quote in a running magazine and felt it’s true meaning for me.  There are many gifts we are each given to which they all need to be cherished.

FYI- I did register for the Philly Marathon just in case….


POST NOTE: 20 miles this week.  Feel terrific!  Interestingly, my neighbor upon hearing about my hospital visit yelled from across the street to acknowledge the event and wish me the best – …”  Hey, I heard you had a little thing…” she yelled…  Wonder what the other neighbors thought of that….



About Patrick

Old enough to know better
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3 Responses to “Running is one of the most positive, powerful gifts” Dr Natalie Stavas

  1. Frank K. says:

    I liked your comment to the cardiologist, “okay, any thoughts?” A friend of mine had a similar experience cycling up a tough hill in Valley Forge. He wound up with coronary bypass surgery. I’m relieved to hear you are okay, and even considering a go at Philadelphia. Best wishes for a steady recovery.


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