Tag Archives: climbing

Bob’s Aortic Adventure

At this point in my own recovery, I have less to say and I say it less often (which is a tremendous current state of affairs if you ask me), so now my role is connecting with others who are going through, at various stages, their own valve replacement sagas. Bob is one of those people who somehow found my blog, connected with me via email before his surgery, and is now recovering (and blogging about) his own aortic valve replacement procedure. 


Like me, Bob moved from the east side to the west(ish) side. Bob is also a climber, and a very proficient trad climber at that. And like me, Bob has a mechanical aortic valve prosthesis. Like me, he has to navigate things like rock climbing while on anticoagulation therapy, and hiking up mountains with a body recovering from open heart surgery.

Bob is telling is story, like I told mine, like so many people these days choose to do after major surgery/ traumatic event. Doing so gives us power, knowledge, solidarity, and new friends.

Bob invited me on a climbing adventure some time next summer. I keep telling myself I’m going to start training for that…

Here is Bob’s Aortic Adventure Blog!

http://myaorticadventure.blogspot.com

Return to Sport Climbing

constant reminders...

constant reminders…

I’m going to brag and show off a bit in this post, so please excuse the narcissism! I was extremely pleased to return to sport climbing this past weekend with a trip to Holcomb Valley in Big Bear, CA. This was my first time sport climbing outdoors since my first surgery (November 2013).

Sport Climbing, in a nutshell, is type of climbing that involves climbing up a rock face with a rope attached to your harness for protection. As you climb, you attach your rope to bolt hangers that have been pre-bolted into the wall. You attach your rope to these bolt hangers using quick-draws (two carabiners attached together with a sling). This is called lead climbing, because you clip your protection in as you go. When someone has lead the route before you, and your protection is already at the top of the route, that is called top-roping.

I spent the early part of the day top-roping. I did not yet feel confident to lead. I felt nervous on the wall. I felt exposed. I could feel my heart pounding and clicking away. I thought about my surgeries. I thought about how difficult my recovery has been. I thought about all the challenges, and how I deserve to be on this rock, right now.

After top roping several climbs, we moved to a new crag to a climb that I was familiar with called ‘Powder Keg” (oh yeah, every route is named by the first person to ascend it). I’ve climbed it before. It isn’t too hard (difficulty: 10a), but it has an impressive move out of a big roof. I remember climbing this when I was a beginner climber, so it felt appropriate to lead it now.

roping up...

roping up…

I climbed Powder Keg flawlessly. My training in the gym, my patience after each surgery, my frustrations, anger, sadness, optimism, everything; summed up in one action. I felt emotional as ascended the top portion. I enjoyed it like a delicious beer, savoring every moment. Sorry, I had to get those scar shots in 🙂

What a kick off to this year’s climbing season! Next week we will be bouldering in Bishop. I can’t wait to crush. This weekend I’ll be cycling in the Levi’s Granfondo ride. I orginally signed up for the 100 miler, but I downgraded to the 65 mile ‘medio’ ride. Between work, school, coaching, and climbing, I haven’t had time to train for it. No worries, we’ll still have fun (and suffer a bit). Thanks for reading!

.

i'm on bloodthinners... helmet: check

i’m on bloodthinners… helmet: check

The roof move.

The roof move.

:-D

😀

finish easy

finish easy

3 Months Post Surgery: BIG Milestone

Recovery is more than getting back to physical health. I am psyched that I have been able to get back to where I am now, however there are some challenges that linger.

  • Emotions: I have noticed significant emotional changes since my surgery. I am not suffering from (cardiac) depression, which happens to many heart surgery patients, but my emotions are extreme. I feel greater joy, and greater sadness in my daily life. The extremes are more present than they used to be.
  • Pride: I feel like I have something to prove. I feel the need to be stronger than I ever have been before. I’m afraid that I am sometimes overdoing it.
  • Physical strength and endurance. Some stronger, some weaker.
  • Occasional PVC’s (premature ventricular contractions): though these have decreased dramatically.

Cycling

Cycling on Feb 22, 2014 ‘Greenspot rd route’: http://my.digifit.com/site/share/workout/c5906ac59bf911e395a409b929907b9a.html My restrictions have been dropped, so I do not need to keep my heart rate under 140 BPM any longer! The cool thing is, due to my beta blocker medication, my heart doesn’t really go above that anyway. We will see once I’m taken off the, hopefully this week. If you are looking at my heart rate chart, don’t worry about the extreme spikes above 200 BPM, I am pretty sure that those reading are errors due to the wind when I go very fast downhill. I think the wind vibrates my jersey against the heart monitor. Those spikes only occur when I go downhill, which is when I am exerting myself the least.

Climbing

I feel that I am back to my normal climbing strength. Now I am training to climb harder and better than I ever have in my life. I have begun a 3 month training regiment that will put me in the best shape of my life. I’ll be sure to post my progress on this. There are various climbing competitions in southern california that I will be competing in. It is time to get strong. I wish I had a recent picture of me climbing something cool to show you, but I don’t.

Personal Life

This one is tough. Refer to my first bullet at the top of this post.

SO anywayz here’s a picture of me with my shirt off!

Scar Shot!

Scar Shot!

Goals (and Fundraising)

logo2129

Now that I am starting to feel a little more nimbly-bimbly on my feet, I thought that it was due time to set up some goals for myself. Maybe it was chance or providence, but when I made this decision I saw that my friend Dave over at The Ironheart Foundation set up a nifty way for heart surgery patients to simultaneously raise money for registration costs of races, and for the Ironheart Foundation itself. The program is called Kickstart Your Heart through Active.com’s Active Giving Network. The way it works: Ironheart will reimburse me for my registration fees for whatever races and athletic events that I enter, if I raise double that amount on my Kickstart fundraising page.

Click here to donate to Ironheart and ME!:  http://www.active.com/donate/kickstartyourheart/robovalve

A little bit about Ironheart’s Philosophy:

Many of us have gone through serious cardiac issues/surgeries and use endurance sports as a way to stay healthy and inspire others. Some have simply joined Ironheart to help spread awareness of congenital heart disease and healthy heart living through exercise and competition. We are a team made up of patients, family members, physicians and healthcare providers, young and old… We participate in everything from 5K runs/walks to marathons, triathlons and beyond- all to support the Foundation, raise awareness for healthy heart living, and to support those we love, including ourselves! – http://ironheartfoundation.org/about
FINALLY, my athletic goals for 2014 are:

  • San Diego Half Marathon on March 9th (less than 4 months after open heart surgery)
  • San Luis Obispo Marathon on April 25th
  • Levi GranFondo 100 mile road bike race on October 4th
  • Various bouldering (rock climbing) competitions
  • A Possible Triathalon if I can learn how to swim
  • AND more (hopefully if I can hack it)!
My first race after surgery.

My first race after surgery.

 

T-minus 6 days

Less than a week to go. My feelings: Calm, excited, nervous, anxious, ready. The butterflies have officially arrived to the stomach. I keep it together most of the time, but certain individuals have to deal with my occasional erratic behavior. Thank god for her support.

I have some goals for next year. I of course want to get back into climbing and cycling as soon as possible. Allot of my goals have to do with my rehab plan, but Loftier goals are necessary too. I have been invited by a fellow heart surgery recipient from northern california to do the 2014 Levi’s GranFondo race. I’m excited for this one. It looks pretty intense! Other goals include: skydiving, more highlining (I tried highlining for the first time 2 weekends ago!), climbing some big walls and a few select classic boulder problems in Joshua Tree (Caveman, Pigpen, White Rasta, Gunsmoke). Last weekend we went out to Joshua Tree and had a fun day of bouldering. I got on Caveman (V-7/8) and actually felt like it could go.

Caveman

Caveman

Roof Romp V4

Roof Romp V4

Photos by Jackie Trejo

First Pre-Op

Meeting with Cardiologist 11/5

Meeting with Cardiac Surgeon 11/12

I met with my surgeon and Nurse Practitioner yesterday at Kaiser Sunset in LA. I was a little disturbed when the surgeon had me mixed up with someone else, but he quickly recovered and found my file. It is understandable; CT scans kinda all look the same. My cardiologist previously told me that I would need my aortic root replaced along with the valve and aorta. My surgeon said the root is fine, which also means that my coronary arteries do not need to be reconnected. That means a less complicated surgery and about a half hour less time under the knife. So what that means is I will be receiving a valve replacement with the On-X mechanical valve, the aortic root will stay intact (which lies between the valve and ascending aorta), and have my ascending aortic aneurysm replaced with a dacron tube. It will be a combination of the two images below.

ascending-aortic-aneurysmindia-surgery-pediatric-aortic-valve-replacement-repair3

The Nurse Practitioner asked me lots of health history questions. She also gave me these heavy duty antibacterial wipes that I have to wipe myself with the night before the surgery. Then they showed me an outdated video. My surgeon was in it and looked at least 10 years younger.

They also swabbed my nose to check for Staph, and took blood to determine my blood type. I got the results already; I’m A positive. 

In other news, since my surgery is coming up so soon, I’ve kinda relaxed in my exercise limitations. I’ve realized that I have been living with the aneurysm for a couple years. At the climbing gym, I climbed without holding back, and it felt great! I know the hangboard workouts that I’ve been doing have really been helpful because I felt like i could just grip for days. I was practically climbing at previous levels despite holding back for the past few months. Makes me optimistic about my recovery!

Small Victories: Hangboard

What is each day but a series of conflicts between the right way and the easy way?

Rock Climbing has taken a backseat these days. The spikes in heart rate and blood pressure during climbing are just too huge to feel comfortable with in my condition. This is a bummer because all I want to do is climb. I’ve realized though, that there is strength training that will maintain, if not improve certain elements in my climbing. I’ve been utilizing my hangboard!

Metolius SImulator

Metolius Simulator

I took a simple workout plan from Steph Davis’ climbing blog. I decided on this one because it does not involve any pull-ups, just hanging. In the workout below, a ‘grip’ refers to a ‘hold’ on the hangboard. I use a Metolius Fingerboard, and did a total of 4 grips. If you plan on doing a hangboard workout, don’t forget to warm up and stretch those digits. Read the entire workout descriptions on Steph’s blog and the Metolius fingerboard workout page, linked above.

(Steph’s) Typical workout:
3 sets for each grip
set one = 7 sec hang 3 sec rest x 7 reps
2 min rest
set two = 7 sec hang 3 sec rest x 6 reps
2min rest
set three = 7 sec hang 3 sec rest x 5 reps
2 min rest between grips

Doing this type of workout will do wonders for my grip strength while I take a sabbatical from actual climbing. The best news is that while doing this workout, I took my blood pressure in between sets, and found that only a mild increase in BP was involved. I can do this type of workout frequently without risk of dissection associated with dynamic strength training.

just keep hanging, just keep hanging…