Meanwhile, back on the sofa…

It’s been a few weeks since I was in hospital with myocarditis, and I’m starting to feel a bit more like myself again. Up until a couple of days ago, I was still feeling very fatigued and was lacking energy. I needed to sleep constantly, and was suffering a general malaise that seemed to hang over me like a grey cloud. But since Friday, I’ve perked up. The cloud has lifted.

But something has changed.

I’m frightened.

I’m not a gifted athlete, but I have found that I can suffer and hurt enough to make up for a lack of talent. That’s what has helped me to achieve some of my triathlon goals this past 18 months. And that’s what I thought I could rely on to keep pushing myself to achieve bigger and better things.

But I’m frightened that I will no longer be able to push myself. I’m frightened that I’ve done permanent damage. I’m frightened that I will not be able to moderate myself, and do even more damage.

I’m overcome with rage when I see people out riding and running. I want to be able to feel that rush of exertion, and I’m sick with envy when I see other people out thriving at the outer extremes of their physical potential.

I tortured myself by watching the Ironman World Championships in Kona. Their joy at going beyond their limits. Their frail condition after stumbling over the finish line. Their physical emptiness having left every shred of themselves out there on the tarmac. I miss that feeling. If you’ve seen the movie ‘Rush’, I watched Kona with the same tortured expression as Niki Lauda watched James Hunt win race after race on TV, while he was confined to his hospital bed. I was desperate to be back in the hurt locker.

I should be allowed to start some moderate training over the next couple of weeks, and I’m excited, but worried at the same time. How will I know when I’m pushing too much? Or worse, what if I let my anxiety rule my ability to push myself? Deep down, I’m scared that from now on I will have to “take things easy” – to go for a gentle jog, to spin my legs over on the bike, to go through the motions of being an athlete without ever crossing the boundaries that you reach after sustained suffering.

I’m frightened that I will not be allowed to try.

I’m frightened that I will be allowed to try, but that I will be too frightened to.

Lucy Piper_triathlon

(Wasn’t sure what image to add to this post, but this was taken at the start of IM Melbourne. Never posted it before. It’s a nice reminder of stronger times.)

*If anyone out there has experience of endurance training after suffering any kind of heart trauma, it would be great to hear your experience or feedback in the comments below – thanks!)

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34 thoughts on “Meanwhile, back on the sofa…

  1. veggieatlas says:

    I can’t think of anyone who takes on a challenge as gracefully and with such determination as you do Ms Piper – do you think it would be helpful to see your recovery as an ironman of your health (or mind… or is that lame?). All those goals and triumphs that you achieved as you were training your body, could be shifted to training goals for healing. Your mind and heart are so powerful, your body will be again too xx

  2. No brilliant words of wisdom, but just wanted to comment to say that what you are feeling sounds perfectly normal – I think I’d feel the exact same way. Hang in there!

  3. erin says:

    Don’t give up, girl! This is just a bump in the road. Listen to your body and if you need to, take it slow to start out. You are strong – and, you will come back even stronger! xo.

  4. ianp68 says:

    Hi Lucy – You should try contact Emma Carney. I know her condition was very different, but she may be able to give you advice. Just keep your head up and take it slowly. You have youth on your side. All the best Ian P

    • Hi Ian, great to hear from you – it’s funny you should say that as I was on a Specialized womens’ ride with Emma Carney three days before I got taken into hospital, and I think if I hadn’t been thinking about her particular story, I might not have taken myself to the doctor when I did. I’ll send her a tweet maybe. How’s your training going? Are you racing Challenge Melbourne??

  5. i don’t even know what to say, as I’m sure I’d feel the same as you. Pissed off, wanting to get out there, but scared for that chance. I say hang in there, give at an easy go at the beginning, and let your body guide you.

  6. MichelleK says:

    No advice, but I feel awful for you. I hope you will be able to find ways to safely push yourself.

  7. I know what you are going through Lucy. Earlier this year, I ended up having 4 stress fractures in my right foot and once I could start to run again, I was scared that I would re-injure. Then 6 weeks ago, I took a spill while bike riding that resulted in two boken wrists, 2 cracked ribs and a banged up knee.

    I to am frightened.Frightened, that I will not allow myself to train as hard as I need to, to push myself to be my best. Having been bed ridden for the past 6 weeks, I have had more than my fair sharing of time to over analize.

    I hope that once I can start moving again, that fear will go away. I will not train alone at first. I am going to surround myself with people that will push me to be my best.

    Wishing you a speedy recovery and to being all that you can be.

  8. Dad. says:

    You have a strength within you that most people could only dream of. Allow yourself the time and space to fully recover baby and you will carry on achieving amazing things. Love, mum. Xxx

  9. vardotrichic says:

    You are a fighter Lucy, so you’ll come back strong! I personally haven’t had heart issues, but my best friend had open heart surgery and has since run multiple marathons, half marathons and shorter distance races. The key for her was to be patient and listen to her body (and the doctors). Unfortunately Rome wasn’t built in a day and the healing process takes time. Just remember to be patient with yourself 😉

  10. Dad. says:

    You’ll get there Boo. Slow and steady wins the race remember.
    Love you xx.

  11. bgddyjim says:

    Take what you can sunshine. The rest will work out in the wash. One day at a time.

  12. Sue Gilbert says:

    That should have said “I’m sure….

  13. Sue Gilbert says:

    Oh Lucy…you are such a strong girl, & I’m sure you’ll be “back in the saddle” once you are 100% fit again. Glad to hear you are really on the mend, & that the horrid “cloud” has lifted. I’m your enthusiastic self is only just around the corner, if not right back now. love & kisses Sue.

  14. Lucy, I think your desire to be ‘back’ will overcome any fear once you recover and are given the green light to go ahead. The fears and doubts you have right now are normal. I am speaking from the perspective of a spouse whose husband has suffered a stroke and two heart attacks. He changed, too. It changed his confidence level and caused him to re-think and self doubt a lot. Would he be able to…? Should he…? Could he…? Give yourself time and kindness and try not to rush your recovery. Sending good thoughts and prayers your way.

    • Thanks so much for taking the time to comment – it must have been very scary for you and you husband with him going through that several times, so traumatic!! I hope he is ok now? You give very sound advice, and I will ensure I don’t rush back into training 🙂 Thanks again!

  15. ookgirl says:

    Lucy – I’m so glad to hear that you’re feeling better. You inspire me & so many other people, and you help us laugh at ourselves – as the Tri-geeks we are 😉 I predict that you will overcome the fear and replace it with a healthy dose of listening to your body, like we all should be. I will think of you while I’m doing Ironman Arizona next month, and you will be out there doing it with me, whether you’re aware of it or not. I will be trying to approach every challenge with the humor that you do. I have no doubt that you will be back in the saddle in no time and fearlessly doing the things you love! Cheers, -ookgirl.

    • Thanks Jennifer – it’s always so lovely to hear from you, your story often comes to mind both when I’m out training and recently in hospital as well. Good luck in IM Arizona – I’ll be following your progress!!! GOOD LUCK 🙂

  16. Alice says:

    Lu-la, you’ve got many more years of racing ahead of you. I’m glad you posted again, you write so beautifully (about one of my favourite subjects!) and as a baby triathlete, I find your experiences so inspirational. So hang in there while you recuperate and please feel free to live vicariously through my pain. The races will still be there, when your body’s ready for them. Xx

  17. Gay Bosanko says:

    Hi Lucy Don’t be so hard on yourself. Take it slowly & gradually build yourself up again & with that you will build your confidence. Pleased you are starting to feel better. Take care. xx Gay Date: Sun, 27 Oct 2013 06:17:20 +0000 To:

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