Thankful

Jeff Clark | July 01, 2010

Marathon-running trucker looking on bright side after a health-related setback


On May 16, I was ready to run the Green Bay Marathon. While I worked hard, on the long runs I was still getting more tired than I should. The first five miles went fine that morning. The pace was about a minute slow, but I felt fine. By mile six I was feeling more tired than I should. I let my pace group go during the eighth mile. At mile 10, I decided this was not my day. I phoned my wife and informed her that I would just walk back to Lambeau Field.

My wife, Roxanne, is an EMT. She insisted that I go to the hospital to get checked out. We went. My blood pressure was 179/98. They put nitro under my tongue, and it brought my blood pressure down. They took an EKG. Everything looked fine. They took my blood. When they take your blood they are looking for elevated levels of a substance called troponin, which may indicate a heart attack. My third blood test came back with elevated troponin levels, and the doctor told me I had a heart attack.

The cardiologist came in and talked to me. We were going to do an angiogram first thing the next morning. He told me I would probably never run again. I argued. We would discuss it again during the angiogram. The angiogram is amazing. The patient is awake during the whole process. The cardiologist was showing me what was happening the whole time. My heart is incredibly healthy. It was not a heart attack. My main arteries all have less than 5 percent blockage. The problem was occurring in two small diagonal arteries that were both 60-70 percent blocked. What happens is that after prolonged activity these arteries can constrict blood flow. That is what was happening to me. He said that I would have had a heart attack years ago if I was not a runner.

My marathon career is over. It is disappointing. I’ll get over it. My runs will be limited to 5 miles. I am thankful for modern technology that can show me exactly what is going on. I am thankful for Roxanne. I have so much to be thankful for.

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