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Riding for my life. Literally.

It seems everyone’s favourite question for me at the moment is ‘Why did I take up cycling?’ I guess up until the diagnosis I received 4 weeks ago today, I’d have simply said ‘because it’s fun.’ I didn’t know 4 weeks ago today that my life would be different, forever….

It was only a year ago I wrote a blog about My fear of not reaching the age of 52…it was something that had been underpinning so much of what motivated me to change my lifestyle, my habits and thinking. I remember all too well that early morning knock on the door as the police tried to raise my mother’s attention. My father had been found dead on an interstate business trip from a massive heart attack. That was the day I’ve always said my world changed forever…

From this in 2010…overweight, unfit, unhappy, at risk of chronic illness.

Fast forward to 2018 as an Ambassador for This Girl Can – VIC campaign…I’m the ‘happy cyclist’!

As I approached the age of 50 I secretly harboured this fear that maybe I too would be that knock on the door for my family. I’d had the warning from the doctor that I’d put on a lot of weight, that I probably should have my blood sugar tested because I’d had gestational diabetes, oh and that little thing he reminded me of about that family history of heart disease.

Like many women, I was resistant to facing the reality of my own health – I didn’t want the blood sugar test because I was quietly worried about what it would show. Having had gestational diabetes my chance of developing Type 1 diabetes increased substantially. And of course there was nothing wrong with my heart, because I’d get chest pains if there was….wouldn’t I? Besides, I’d been a running coach.

I lost my Dad when he was 52 years old…a massive coronary. I was 12 years old.

As I stood on the grassy patch beside the bike path, teary and angry as I wrote about in my blog, I wondered why everyone else was going so fast, why did they keep riding off…what’s their problem! Well, it was like an epiphany standing there – at that moment, as I looked at my husband watching me I knew he wanted to say something. I knew he wanted to tell me I was overweight and unfit…but he didn’t. Deep down inside I knew it was MY problem, not somebody elses – I had chosen inactivity over activity.

I was in denial about my weight, about my condition and pity help anyone who even dare so much as mention that I was buying clothes at a plus size store. Was this really me – how did I get to be like this? I’d always been fit and healthy – the truth is, it was easier to sit on the couch and do nothing.

That day on the grassy patch changed things – I started cycling…and now I can look back and know what a truly pivotal point it really was in my life. Because you see, 4 weeks ago to the day, I was diagnosed with a 50% closure of my Left Anterior Descending Artery in my heart. I have heart disease.

I sat in the car for about 20 minutes after the visit to the cardiologist for the results of my tests. I couldn’t see a damn thing because the tears just kept welling up and I wondered how the hell I’d get home, and how the hell I’d ended up here. My fists clenched so tightly on the steering wheel, I was angry, devastated, petrified. I managed to call my husband who was as freaked out as I was – was I about to die?

I had gone from inactive, to active…I never measured my weight. I just rode, and rode, and rode.

Well, thankfully no I was not about to die – the person who went from being referred to as ‘the cardiologist’ is now called ‘MY cardiologist’, because I know I’ll be seeing a whole lot more of her. But the truth is, when you are faced with that kind of diagnosis and you’ve been doing everything you can to keep you from being the statistic, well frankly I was pissed off!

I’d had all the tests and everything indicated that I was in great shape: low cholesterol, low blood sugars, liver function fine, blood pressure great, resting heart rate great, stress test showed heart muscle function is great – I’m a super fit woman! So why the hell was I sitting there listening to her tell me I’d now need to be on a regime of drugs forever, just like an old person…yes, forever.