Sunday, March 13, 2011

The Shock

Monday 3/7/11 @ 11 a.m. I was descending a mountain and without warning my ICD (defibrillator) went off and gave me a jolt. It felt like an explosion inside my chest with someone kicking me and trying to get out. It was instantaneous, BAM, and it's over. There is no physical pain afterward and the subsequent emotional affect was the hardest thing. I kept it upright, probably because I've been on the bike so long and I'm always expecting the unexpected between cars, squirrels, etc. Doc said most people driving swerve or have an issue, and he was surprised I didn't crash, but if I was driving I probably would have been relaxed and swerved.

After it happened I rode the 7 miles home at a less than recovery pace. It definitely hit me emotionally when I got home and I was a mess. Luckily my buddy Scott Gordon came over and talked to me and calmed me down a little.

Tuesday 3/8/11 Went to the Doctor. They uploaded my device data. In the past 6 weeks there were about 16 times where I had minor arrhythmias which my ICD monitored and was able to normalize my Heart Rate and bring it back down, but this time it lasted too long and wasn't able to bring my HR back down so I got the shock.

Diagnosis from the Doc: Take a beta blocker (limits/lowers heart rate) before you ride and go out and ride

Wednesday 3/9/11: Wake up to great news that I've been selected to do tour of Greece (Hellas) a UCI 2.2 stage race. Mentally the idea of riding my bike is still kinda scary. I go out and do my morning ride, 2 hours, but absolutely no mental capacity to be able to go hard.

Friday & Sat 3/10 and 3/11: Training Camp. It was definitely a mental hurdle to still go and do training camp after what had happened. I went and was glad I did. I had an awesome time with the guys and got a lot of great miles in and I was able to ride hard, but on most of the climbs I wasn't able to hit the mental switch and kill it. Legs felt great, but didn't have the mental capacity to really push myself and go at threshold on the climbs.

Today I made the decision not to do Greece. It would have been awesome to go to Greece, but now just isn't the right time. I'm taking it day by day and just enjoying riding the bike.

Prior to 3/7/11
I did Tour of Bahamas Race at the end of January and was surprised at how well I felt. I had only been back on the bike for about 6 weeks and felt good in the race, finishing both stages, going with some moves, and getting in the big break in the road race which eventually got brought back.

I got some great training in during february with lots of long rides and started to get some good intensity stuff in. Each day I was getting more and more comfortable on the bike and really starting to believe the doctors who were saying it was a freak thing and that my defibrilator should never go off. It was such a suprise when it did go off. I was doing a quick 1.5 hr ride before work. did a 15 min climb at a low tempo pace, descended, and then a 10 minute climb at threshold. I started the descent and a minute or so later I got the shock.

As the doctor said it can go off anytime as there is no rhyme or reason to why my heart goes "crazy." They can see what is happening, but don't know why it happens.

I'm also participating in an ICD study for those who have ICD's and participate in athletics. I called in to update them with all the info. Hopefully the study's results will help others and allow those who have ICD's feel more comfortable about participating in athletics or at least knowing what to expect.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Free CPR classes

For those that live in Howard County the HoCo Department of Fire and Rescue will be offering free CPR classes to the public on the 2nd and 4th Saturday's of each month. Call 410-313-2016 for info. I encourage all to attend.

Looks like they're never going to know exactly why I went into cardiac arrest, hopefully a one time freak thing. Apparently my defibrillator/pacemaker records everything my heart does and when I went in earlier this week they uploaded all the data from the device and said everything looks great. They could see a few minor arrhythmia's that were short (5 beats, so probably only 1-2 seconds), normal, and nothing to worry about. When they told me I just had one at 11 a.m. that morning it was obvious it was when I was riding and during a 15 min climb, and like they said I wouldn't even realize I had it.

Been back on the bike for a month and pretty much back to normal, it's been crazy and I can't believe how fast I was back to having great health and being on the bike. Modern Medicine is amazing.

Been contacted by other athletes who have also suffered sudden cardiac arrest, and it'll probably be a slow process, but were talking about hopefully setting up a website for discussion and raise funding/set up a non-profit when we figure out what type of direction we want to take with it. Looks like the first step will simply be to set up a website/forum for those with similar occurrences to talk about what happened and living life afterward.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Back on the bike

Wednesday afternoon it just hit me. My body and mind all of a sudden just said, "it's time to get on the bike." I listened and headed out for the best 1 hour ride of my life. It didn't matter that it was 20 degrees with a horrible wind, I had the biggest smile of my life the entire time and couldn't believe it, "I'm riding my bike, I'm riding my f'ing bike" I kept saying to myself with tears of joy. Just a couple weeks ago I was fighting for my life. I don't have a lot of memories from the hospital, but I distinctly remember some Doc saying I wouldn't ride my bike again. Kris Auer (and I think Bad Andy too) was in the room, I told Auer and I started to cry and break down. Auer told me I'd be on my bike again, and that got me through it, I knew I'd make it and I'd get back on the bike.

It's all easy now

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

100% healthy heart!!

I had my follow up tuesday 12-7 and learned a lot. My heart is very healthy and the Doctors can't find anything wrong with it, from their perspective and tests it is 100% fine physically and electrically. They are not sure exactly what is wrong, but what they think may have happened is an extremely rare heart condition/situation (which there was a paper written on 10-15 years ago with the same type of thing happening to about a half a dozen people). Basically my heart rate became very elevated (due to physical exertion, bike race) and it just shut down. They think the reason for this was that I didn't have enough fluid (simply not drinking enough water).

My prognosis- I'll be able to do everything I did before this happened. I'll be back on the bike end of december/early january!! and racing in 2011 Just no metal detectors on cell phones near my heart :)

My longterm treatment- drink lots and lots and lots of water


They did install a defibrillator in my chest so if this were to happen again my heart would get a shock. Device has to get checked every few months to make sure it is working and they can set specific heart rate where it kicks in (which will be different due to being athletic and having high heart rate). and device gets replaced every 4 years or so because it needs a new battery. Also takes 4-6 weeks for leeds and everything to set. They also put heart catheters in me as well

I also have to follow up with a speech pathologist

Note that I originally thought it was something else (ARVD) which it is not, absolutely no issues with arteries, heart muscle, valves, etc.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Not 100% sure exactly what type of heart issue I had, luckily they moved my follow up to next Tuesday so hopefully I'll learn more then, I've got a million questions for the doctor. Most important thing is I'm alive and secondary to that insurance should pick up most/all of the bill for this year, and I've got plenty of leave from work so I don't have to stress about those issues; however, the amount of paperwork, follow up, decisions (like should I change health insurance for next year) is crazy. Just need to relax and get back into a somewhat normal routine.

I'm taking it day by day and seem to slowly be getting better. I can do "normal" stuff, just no intense exercise, and everything takes me about 4x longer to do cause I'm slow for once. Chest still feels heavy, but not too bad except for when I wake up in the morning.

Not sure when I'll go back to work, feel like I could go back next week, but everyone says to just take it slow, take time off and fully recover.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

thankyou from Brian Fouche

A BIG THANKYOU TO EVERYONE, there's no way to describe the amount of support I received. I've had hundreds of people reach out to me in the past week, and more who continue to reach out everyday as they learn of what happened and you have all made it possible for me to not only be alive, but LIVING. I was overwhelmed with support from family, friends, the cycling community, mabra, doctors, nurses, and even people who I didn't know prior to the events that transpired. I wish I could thank everyone individually from the people who resuscitated me at the race to the teams and individuals that visited me, talked to me, sent me messages, sent me gifts, etc. My hospital room was packed with visitors all day, everyday, it was amazing, they barely had time to operate on me with all you guys cramming into my room :-)

I have no memories of Saturday when I apparently went into cardiac arrest (heart stopped) at schooly mill cx (bicycle race) and David Bozak (a doctor) who was competing in the race as well came up to me, realized something was wrong, performed CPR and resuscitated me . I also have no memories of Sunday or Monday when I was apparently in a Howard County Hospital. It seems I remember most of my time in John Hopkins from Tues, Wed, and Thursday when I was released. Even if I don't remember seeing or talking to you please know that it still made a huge difference in my fast recovery and I'm so grateful.

I had surgery to install a defibrillator in my chest on Wednesday. I was discharged late Thursday night and I'm home recovering. I'm mobile, functional, and besides doing everything a touch slower most people looking at me would have no indication that anything ever happened to me. I'm going to make sure to take plenty of time to rest and properly heal up, but I'm gonna be back on the bike in 2011 and look forward to seeing everyone.

Brian Fouche

bafouche@gmail.com