Not So YOUNG, a Little WILD and Valversary THREE.

12 04 2018

 

Each year as April 8th approaches I look forward to going to the hospital and taking tests.  My goal is to pass tests and  by pass the surgeon. And by that I do not mean not bypass surgery, I mean do not have a reason to see the surgeon.  By heart I have the day’s routine down. Quick Cat Scan and off to Ultra Sound. Let me give a shout out to Ben at Penn Medicine for the “extra touch” of music videos.  Seriously watching Coldplay and then turning my head to see the ultrasound monitor showing my valve open and closing to the beat of Adventure of a Lifetime was  paradise. Really was cool.

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Once my tests are complete, I sit in a room in my surgeons office.  And although I know I feel great and that I exercised and trained hard this year to make my heart my strongest muscle, I sit and stare at the door in hopes Dr. Bavaria does not walk in.  Seeing him in his blue blazer over his scrubs would mean something isn’t pumping right, or he’s about to tell me the words I fear to hear one day that  it’s getting close to valve replacement time.  Knowing that this day will come and my aortic valve will need to replaced again is what drives me to take care of myself.  I am determined to walk in and walk out upright.  (Tissue /bioprosthetic valves have an average lifespan of  10 to 20 years) 

But lucky for me, GOD the name I like to call my surgeon, did not enter the room. I passed my tests, hit the elevator button, hit Schuylkill Expressway  and of course hit the gym for a long sweaty heart-pumping workout.  Another year down and time to train again for the life I so appreciate.  Diet and Exercise… if a doctor could write it on a prescription pad it would be the most prescribed medicine. Because people love to medicate then prevent. Gym floor or hospital floor?  Why would anybody choose the later.  While I have learned that my genes and cells  have come preprogramed for me at birth and that although I might do my best to live a healthy life style, I can’t out run, out lift or out program what unfortunate I was dealt with. What I can do is to be  physically and mentally strong to deal with anything that should be thrown my way.   A healthy heart BEATS a sick one.   So I workout like my life depends on it, cause it does.

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THREE YEARS  AGO , 5 DAYS POST OPP PEDDLING FOR MY OWN HEART.

THIS YEAR I PEDDLED FOR LITTLE HEARTS AT THE PHILLY SPIN-IN

I couldn’t of thought of a better way to celebrate my 3 year Valversary than to be one of the instructors at the Philly Spin-In for Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.   Words cannot begin to tell you how appreciative I was to be a part of this event to raise money, awareness and a cure for congenital heart defects. To hear the stories, see the signs, see all the teams spinning and feel the love for all the heart warriors is a day I’ll remember and one that makes me feel blessed. The fund will run till the end of April so please donate cause little hearts need to grow up to be big hearts. You can donate at: Philly Spin In

It’s been another heart full year.

Hope

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Fit, Fifty & W.T.F.

8 04 2015

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There’s that saying that goes when one door closes another one opens. Usually that door opens to bigger and brighter things. After 18 years of an ugly marriage followed by 6 years of an ugly divorce, complete with astronomical divorce lawyer bills I am finally able to come up for air. I am in my early fifties, fit and finally free of some very heavy baggage. But why am I still out of breath?

To me there is nothing more important in life than family, and certainly nothing more valuable than good health. As a personal trainer, fitness instructor, and workout devotee, I preach about health and fitness on a daily basis. I am passionate about it and, because I am that annoying fitness friend who works out all the time, posts fitness quotes on Facebook, likes to tell you what to and what not to eat and as you can see, also blogs about it. I don’t have a problem telling people they’re overweight, their diet sucks and that they are a heart attack waiting to happen. I take care of myself so you should too. Listen to me……I’m Ms. Know It All. My motto is: “take care of your heart and your heart will take care of you.” And my personal mission is to not end up with a bad heart like my dad and his dad.

Recently I said to a friend that I would love to see how healthy my heart is for a 51 year- old woman. I bet it’s like that of a 30 year old. I do a ton of cardio and eat well, I don’t drink alcohol or smoke, I take fish oil supplements and I eat only dark chocolate. In fact, I think I am looking pretty pretty good for 51. I think 50 is the new 40. Did I mention that I have been feeling a little fatigued for the last few years. I’ve been told it’s from stress, my divorce and most recently menopause. I just had another physical. I know my body something isn’t right. I am told I should schedule a routine colonoscopy because I’m 51. Huh? I don’t think the problem is up my ass. Why isn’t anyone listening to me? I know my body and know something isn’t right. I think I need a new doctor. Yippee I found a new doctor and bonus she’s close to my house. Double bonus she had a cancellation. I have an appointment with my new doctor. Ah, I think my new doctor needs her hearing checked………
What? A heart murmur.  I now have a new doctor and a cardiologist, both whom do not have hearing problems. Although the lips are moving and I am being told that I was born with a genetic heart valve defect, I hear nothing but the words “Open Heart Surgery.” I am pretty pretty sure they both must have made a mistake because I have worked way too hard to avoid any problems with my heart, and look at me damn-it I look pretty pretty good for 51. Plus I just opened a new door in my life, I just came up for air. Let me catch my breath please.

The fall of 1980 I saw my father at the age of 43 lay in a hospital bed post-op from a triple bypass surgery after suffering his first of many future heart attacks, followed by subsequent heart surgeries and heart procedures. Wearing his scar like a badge of honor, he would parade shirtless around our house in Northeast Philly to the sheer horror of my teenage friends and I. To this day a phone call in the middle of the night always means hearing my mom say “Daddy’s in the hospital.” Now at the age of 82 my father Morty has had way too many heart procedures to list. But it’s this medical technology that keeps him alive and on the golf course in sunny Florida. That and someone, upstairs must like him a lot and knew that I would need him around so we can compare our badges of honor, our open heart surgery scars.

I’ll admit I have never even heard of a Bicuspid Valve, BAVD or let alone a Thoracic Aneurysm but when I’m asked if I know who John Ritter was I say yes and that I never thought he was funny. I couldn’t begin to comprehend what the cardiologist was saying. I have two daughters who need me. I can’t have open heart surgery…that would be insane. I’m too young. That’s for old people, people who are out of shape, people who eat bad, drink, and smoke. It’s not for me—the high and mighty personal trainer, amazing Spin instructor and fitness nut. Come on—I have to do the Broad Street Run. I need to teach my Spin class. I have people to train and preaching to do about the importance of doing cardiovascular exercise to strengthen the heart. And I have a list of personal “to do’s” like hiking the Grand Canyon, doing the Leadville 100 mountain bike race, and running the Disney Princess half marathon with my daughter, in of course Micky Mouse ears. In other words I have LIFE to do and don’t have time for this crap. More importantly I need to work, make money. I am a single mom. I don’t have workman’s comp or a job with benefits. How will this happen? And why did this happen? And another thought…OMG I’m going to have a gross scar down my chest like my father! Breath Hope. Just breath.

As I sat waiting for Penn Medicine’s top Aorta Specialist Dr. Joseph Bavaria to see me I was convinced that he would say we’ll monitor you and check you again in 12 months. But when he entered the room with this god like presence I knew immediately that “see you in a year” wasn’t coming out of his mouth. Instead he said “ John Ritter died from what you have.” “Yes I’ve heard” I said. And as I sat there wearing a shirt with a giant pink heart that I wore on purpose, listening to Dr. Bavaria and his Assistant Kristen tell me that my heart was way too big for my body size and all about artificial valves, cow valves, pig valves, two days in intensive care, and a week in the hospital I suddenly felt more like a confused child and not the strong confident mom of steel I am. Sadly, as I put my coat on over the cute pink heart shirt the heart surgeon never even noticed nor chuckled at, I gather my things and drove back into the suburbs in silence. Rush hour traffic on the Schuykill Expressway for once in my life didn’t seem to bother me. I thought about my kids and that I now had to call my dad and tell him the secret I have kept from him for two months. “Daddy, I have a heart condition and I am having open heart surgery in April.” And in true form my father said “BULLSHIT, that doctor doesn’t know what he’s talking about. You were not born with a valve problem. It’s from too much god damn exercising”

Bicuspid aortic valve disease, or BAVD, is a congenital heart defect. Most people are born with a normal functioning tricuspid aortic valve. Some, like myself, are born with a bicuspid valve. A bicuspid aortic valve can be a serious heart valve disorder in which the valve only has two leaflets, or flaps, that control blood flow through the heart causing blood to regurgitate back into the heart rather than exit. It is a genetic mutation that occurs during pregnancy that causes the leaflets to fuse together. All of that causes the aorta to stretch and bulge and possibly cause an aneurysm. Oh yeah, I have one of those too that has to be repaired during my surgery. Some people are diagnosed at birth and therefore monitored as they age. Some like myself find out later in life that they were born with this valve disorder. To say I wasn’t prepared for the news that I had a life threatening heart condition would be an understatement. So I am beyond grateful and very fortunate that my new doctor, Dr. Hannah Chung heard the murmur and even more grateful that I didn’t cancel my appointment with Dr. Andrea Becker the cardiologist. Believe me I thought about cancelling.

On April 8th I will be sawed open through my sternum and have my bicuspid valve and aneurysm repaired or replaced. My surgeon, Dr. Joseph Bavaria will attempt to repair my valve rather. However if it cannot be repaired a replacement valve will be inserted.  At the old age of 51 I have no clogged arteries and one big strong heart so I am really hoping for a repair that hopefully would last for the rest of my life.  Tissue valves (cow or pig) only last roughly ten years when a person is active and therefore I could be facing open heart surgery again in ten years. I am praying for repair. I am not a candidate for a mechanical valve for other reasons. So, besides constantly thinking about my upcoming surgery and touching my left side of my chest all the time like Fred Sanford, I am cleaning my house like a nut, organizing my things and stocking up on diet ginger ale and soup. Plunging neckline shirts I once wore out whoring with my single girlfriends after my divorce have been dropped off at the good will box because something tells me that a 6” scar down my chest will not be so sexy. While I await my surgery I am restricted from doing anything that causes me to make a grunting sound like lifting heavy weights especially above my head. I am still training my clients, teaching spin and working out. I am training for the biggest race of my life – MY LIFE. I plan on walking into the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania on the morning of April 8th being one Fit Fifty-One year old Female and walking out a week later ready for my road to recovery and the opportunity to begin each day with a grateful heart.

Occasionally we hear a sad story about a kid playing football and dropping dead on the field, a basketball player collapsing on the court, a child who has a heart attack at recess. We find out they had an unknown heart condition and that had it been detected their lives could have been spared. Today there are national campaigns designed to stress the importance of early detection of heart conditions in youth which can lead to Sudden Cardiac Death.

Simon’s Fund is just one of the many organizations dedicated to raising awareness about the conditions that lead to sudden cardiac arrest in young athletes and children. Sudden cardiac arrest is the #1 killer of student athletes and cardiac arrest is the #1 killer of adults in the U.S.  As such, we should be checking the hearts of our children. Simon’s Funds latest success is the passage of The Sudden Cardiac Arrest Prevention Act (HB1610) in Harrisburg, PA. Hundreds of childrens lives have been saved thanks to the screenings that have taken place in schools all around the country. Go to Simonsfund.org for more information.

I am fortunate that as active as I am I did not drop dead from my unknown heart condition. My bicuspid valve wouldn’t have been detected therefore not allowing my children to be tested for this genetic disorder. While most adults discover their unknown BAVD in their thirties when they begin to get out of breath more easily, my body learned to compensate for my hearts inadequacy. I always thought my racing heart during the first mile of a run was due to the stress of hating to run. I will be curious to see how I feel when I recover. Will I breathe better? Will my heart rate be the same when I workout? Will I not sweat as much? I know I have a tough road ahead of me but I am going into this mentally tough. Because guess what? I know my body and I am sure I will do pretty pretty well. T minus zero it’s race time.  Deep breath Hope.

 

Please follow along my journey as I recover the days, weeks and months to come.

Check out my post op blog Fit, Fifty & WTF – Feeling Wonderful, Thankful & freakin’Relieved

at: https://hopenagy.wordpress.com/2015/04/17/fit-fifty-feeling-wtf-wonderful-thankful-freakin-relieved/

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Hope Nagy Certified Personal Trainer

Pre-op testing day Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.  Feeling thankful in Philly.

Pre-op testing day Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. Feeling thankful in Philly.

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