Heart bypass to Wimbleball

On 17 June 2011, Peter Phippen underwent a triple heart-bypass. On 17 June 2012, he will enter Ironman 70.3, arguably the world's toughest middle-distance race. Read the start of his story here...

On 17 June 2011, I was unable to get out of bed.
 
I’d just undergone a triple heart-bypass. The drainage tubes had just been removed from my chest, but I still had little wires protruding in case a pacemaker needed to be attached in a hurry. I still had an irregular heartbeat that was causing some concern, so was hooked up to a drip that fed me a drug called amioderone, endlessly, and which was meant to help the heart to return to normal. It didn’t.
 
The strange heartbeat made me feel pretty rotten and I couldn’t eat. I received a cocktail of other drugs at regular intervals and had my blood pressure tested and an ECG carried out every couple of hours. Unable to get out of bed I got used to the indignity of ‘bottles’ in bed. And I was pretty desperate for a proper wash.
Obviously, my chest, which had been sawn open, was painful. But the pain in my leg, from which the artery had been taken and which was now inside me, was seemingly as bad.
 
It was a bit of a surprise to be in this position. I had considered myself quite fit. I’d done a number of triathlons in recent years: eight sprints, I think, and four Olympics. But now, in retrospect, as I lay there, I could see that perhaps my times had been declining and I’d noticed a loss of fitness.
Even so, it all seemed a bit unfair. I was 51, didn’t smoke, was fitter than average. But unfairness is all relative. I had suffered a mild heart attack and whilst a bit miserable, was unquestionably alive.
 
On 17 June 2012, I shall compete in the Wimbleball Ironman 70.3.
 
When I signed up, almost as soon as I got home from hospital, still unable to do more than walk a few steps and consigned to a spare bedroom where I could lay on my back propped up with extra pillows….well, June 2012 seemed a long time away. And I was desperate to picture myself as a normal, fit and active person. The sort of person who enters triathlons. I didn’t tell my wife. Some things are better left until later.
 
Since entering Wimbleball, I’ve also entered the Deloitte Ride Across Britain, in Sept 2012. A friend put me up to that one.
 
But first things first. I’ve got until June next year to get seriously fit. I’ve now completed my ‘rehab’. The nurses were very kind. When they say my frustration at walking slowly round in circles in a hall with the other rehab patients, they eventually released me from the constraint that I couldn’t let my heart rate get above 128 under any circumstances.
 
I underwent an ECG test whilst running on a treadmill and got my heart rate to 170 without keeling over, so they decided I could push things a bit more. But I’ve a heck of a long way to go. All help and encouragement, gratefully received…

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