Category Archives: Boot camp

Walking from the Heart

This fall, I participated in the American Heart Association HeartWalk in Boston. This was significant for me on several levels: I did the walk with my two children, now 25 and 21. These are children  I was not supposed to have— according to the doctors I had seen when I was growing up—because the stress of pregnancy and childbirth was considered too much for a heart compromised by Marfan Syndrome. But thanks to the  skill and watchful care of a wonderful cardiologist, I was able to thrive through two pregnancies (with planned C-sections), and rejoice with my husband at the birth of our children, who are now well-launched in their own lives and continue to be two of the joys of ours.

The HeartWalk was also significant because I was actually able to complete two of the miles without pain—thanks to the benefits of “physical therapy boot camp” and my new program of regular gym workouts. Again, I feel as if I have “outwitted” some of the usual problems of Marfan Syndrome—joint pain— as long as I am faithful to the exercise routine. Walking that distance was meaningful for another reason: In 1995 I had mitral valve replacement surgery and woke up with half my body paralyzed by a stroke caused by a wayward piece of tissue that had lodged in my brain. I recovered by using integrative medicine (another story), so doing this walk without a cane or other assistance was particularly sweet!

Last—and certainly not least—my family and I walked on the HeartWalk team of the very cardiologist who, 30 years ago, heard and understood how important it was for my husband and me to have children, and who helped make our dream come true. Now, all these years later, here is the result. As I look back on the past 30 years, I realize even more how imporant it is not only to “own our health,” but also to find the right medical partners to help us.

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Filed under Boot camp, Chronic Pain, Health, heart arrhythmia, Marfan Syndrome, Pregnancy, stroke

Boot Camp for Back Pain

A relatively new approach to chronic back pain is beginning to make headway into mainstream medicine: It is called “physical therapy boot camp” and I am in my fourth week of the program run by New England Baptist Hospital. The results, at least for my Marfan-related back pain, are miraculous. For the first time in what seems like years, I can walk longer and engage in daily life activities without pain in my lower back and hip. It takes work, rather than popping pain pills (which I don’t take): I go twice a week for directed stretching and an hour of closely supervised weight training on gym machines, with steadily increasing weights and repetitions. At home, I follow their program of stretching, walking and weights. And it is really working. This is going to become a regular part of my life.

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Filed under Boot camp, Chronic Pain