Health Reality Check - Temporary Change of My Course

In January of this year, I was racing in a 6 mile course through Seattle but noticed I was feeling more winded than usual, panting right off the starting line and well into the course. Usually my 17 foot unlimited board makes for an easy flat water race, but on this day I felt like I was on a 9' board going uphill.  This pattern of fatigue continued throughout the winter during moments of heavy exercise when surfing, racing, and downwinding.

By late winter, my 2006 Subaru Forester had sprung roof leaks due to saltwater corrosion (and my poor care) and as a result mold began to build in the carpet.  We began to wonder if my breathing issue was a result of mold.  I booked a doctor's appt to investigate. The doctor's diagnosis came as a shock - I may have a heart issue.  He told me to immediately stop exercising (middle of downwind season?) and to see a cardiologist. My dad has afib and has had two ablation procedures, so it was looking like I inherited the family heart issue.  The cardiologist, Dr Willem at the PolyClinic in Seattle put me through a few tests which confirmed I have an irregular heartbeat.  Bummer.

Four months later, we're still testing various heart medicines to see which recipe works best for me.  Unfortantly, the condition has worsened to the point of me being winded even when walking up stairs, carrying a sup or sometimes even bending over.  Everyone including the doctor tells me there is a solution, and that it can take up to six months to find it.  Looks like I'm on that track.  Everyone also says 'this shouldn't be happening to you, you're so young.'  At 47 and getting winded for walking up stairs, I'm not feeling that young.

Today's doctor appt resulted in one more medicine adjustment then if that doesn't work we may be talking about a pacemaker or ablation 'procedure' (surgery).  He says the pacemaker will make me 100% but has a month downtime after the procedure. Hmm.. I feel like crap now and it's affecting my paddling business/life so do I do it now wait till fall after my season has slowed or ended?  Difficult choice.

As a result of this, I'm learning to run my business differently by delegating more classes and tours to my instructors and am training new instructors to take the load. Our busiest instructors are now on payroll.  As summer goes in the NW, it's getting busy so I'm only taking a few classes including the more specialized ones where my instructors skills aren't quite there yet.

Will update...

Update as of 8/4/16 - See the next post! Thanks to an open minded newish doctor I'm 100% after she took the time to get me a Cat Scan which found blood clots in my lungs or in short Pulmonary Edema.  I spent 24hrs in the hospital on blood thinners, and with close monitoring of my condition after, I'm amazingly feeling 100%!!  I'm back to paddling and freighter wave surfing while building my physical level back up after months of down time.  I taught my first class last weekend. Feels great to be back!  Tip: If you're in a pickle health wise, look outside the box for another solution. I didn't feel the heart was the problem (had a suspicion it was in the lungs) and followed my instinct by exploring further and benefited from doing so.

Thanks for your support!  Rob

Check out our SUP classes in Seattle - Beginning to advanced instruction including freighter and tug wave surfing, coastal surfing, rivers and racing, plus PSUPA Certification.


Robert Stehlik said…
Bummer Rob, I'm sorry to hear that, I hope you get that figured out soon so you can keep doing what you do, good luck.