Heart Mark

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FLATLINE TO FINISHLINE

LINDSAY DIBOWITZ – HEART ATTACK SURVIVOR

On the morning of the 15th of March 2008, six days after giving birth to my third child I went into full cardiac arrest for 97 minutes. I was resuscitated with a defibulator 9 times.  I was 34 years old and it happened at my home in front of my kids and husband.

I had a very rare disorder called SCAD (spontaneous cardiac artery dissection) otherwise known as SUDDEN DEATH SYNDROME. No one saw it coming.

I was kept sedated and ventilated until strong enough to have an angiogram. Once this was done they put stents into my artery. I was in and out of that cardiac ICU for the better part of 2008 and on various drugs for many years after that.

I don’t remember anything about the actual event and the days after it. All I remember is feeling weak, depressed, tired and pretty useless to my kids. During that year I landed up putting on roughly 20kgs. Emotional eating was my new friend.  After the heart attack I didn’t think I would every by ok again. I was always worried it would happen again. I was scared all the time. I was scared to walk too far. I was scared to drive too far away from home. I was scared to take my children out alone. I was scared of myself and who I had become. I’D LOST MY BRAVE! Therefore the eating made me feel in control and safe.

18 months later I was watching a gym class my daughter was in. It involved treadmill and floor work. I was so angry and jealous that I would never be able to do that again. The owner of the gym (npw my mental and health guru) made me get on that treadmill. He said "Ï have you and if anything happens to you I will take care of you.” So I walked on his treadmill with this absolute fear of it and myself. Eventually I was walking faster, my heart rate went up and I felt awesome. I found my BRAVE that day on that treadmill.

Go ahead 2 years from that I was getting strong and confident. I had promised myself I would not waste my second chance at life. I started to respect my body for how strong it was. For two years after the treadmill episode (I call it) I got faster and braver. I gained some confidence and started to find out that I was so much stronger than I had ever imagined.  However I never lost sight of the fact that I had had a heart attack and I really listened to my body and rested when I needed to. I never pushed too hard out of my comfort zone but I always tried to do a little more a little faster and more often.

A friend had just completed the half Ironman in Jan of 2013. It totally inspired me. I’m not even sure why or what would make someone want to do a triathlon but I wanted to try it. I could not swim or run more that 3kms but I was determined to give this a try. I was so driven to prove to myself that I was much stronger than I believed and anything is possible.

So I trained for a year, yes a full year and I did not give up. I cried a lot but I kept going. I loved every minute of that first year of group training. I fell in love the new people I met and their amazing stories. I fell in love with the new brave person I was becoming. I completed my first half Ironman in the January of 2014 and I cried for days thereafter. It was the most emotional time of my life.

Having that SCAD was the worst and best day of my life. I woke up a different human. I have such a different outlook on my life and what I’m supposed to do with it. My children are so much better for it too. They are healthy and fit and love being outdoors. We all eat well together and look after our bodies we were given.

If I can go from Flatline to Finishline then so can you. All it takes is bravery and the will to try.

I’m now a strong healthy person. I respect my body. I eat well and exercise is my escape not the eating anymore.

Since then I have completed many smaller events and another half ironman in Durban. I intend to do the half ironman in Durban again and possibly even get REALLY brave and do the FULL ironman in the near future.

I’m a true IRONHEART. – come and be brave with me.

Lindsay Dibowitz