Friday, 6 July 2012

Fail Friday - Darwin Edition

Being a Darwinian Fail can get a little lonely sometimes. We are a rare breed, so I don't often stumble upon other genetically challenged friends. And I find myself wondering - is anyone else out there? Where are my cyborg friends? I know there more of us, but it's easy to feel like you are fighting this genetic battle alone when you are the only girl under 75 in the cardio clinic. 

But this weekend while watching the Euro Cup final, I found myself rooting passionately for Italy. Not because I am Italian, nor because I am devoted Italy fan, but because I found a fellow fail on the team. Antonio Cassano started for Italy's European Championship squad despite having heart surgery last fall. He had Patent Foramen Ovale which is a type a heart disease that occurs due to incomplete closure of the upper heart chambers at birth. The person with this disease is not aware of the problem until symptoms appear. He experienced a Transient Ischemic Brain Attack (TIA), which presents like a stroke, this past fall. And underwent surgery to repair the opening 6 days later. Seeing someone with a less than stellar genetic predisposition competing at the top level was inspiring.

Not only did he experience a cardiac episode and have surgery, but he then needed to recover and work his butt off to get his body back into shape. This is no small feat, especially not when you consider that he was training to compete against the world's top athletes. Italy didn't win the Euro, but I think Cassano did.

So often when you experience a diagnosis like I have, physical activity is more likely to be discouraged than anything else. An arrhythmia like mine is a strange entity. They are unpredictable, and the way they will react when tested and put under physical stress is a big question mark. So while I now lead a healthy, happy, active life there are limits to how hard I can push my body and a certain amount of care and patience needs to be applied to training.

It is also the reason why I have a pacemaker/defibrillator. The pacemaker provides therapy - mine is working 70-75% of the time- to manage my heart rate and condition. And the defibrillator is there just in case, because robot hearts can be handy like that. This amazing technology let's me lead the life I want, while knowing that I am protected against the the unpredictability of my diagnosis.

Soccer rules in my house. We are an Arsenal family: it occupies a very important [and loud] part of every weekend beginning in August. So, soccer also provides this hopeful Darwinian Fail clip and inspiration. Anthony Van Loo, a defender of Roeselare (Belgium) experiences what is known as instant cardiac death at the football field, but is almost instantly revived by his cyborg heart. This is a direct result of his arrhythmia and the reason all of us fails thank our lucky stars for the advances in technology and medical science. 

These men despite all the odds, and despite their genetic shortcomings are strong, healthy, and competing at the highest level of their sport. Limitation only exist if you let them. So this gal, despite all the odds, and her genetic shortcoming is going to run a Marathon this Fall. No limits!

Let's do this!
Love your Favourite Darwinian Fail,