Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Interesting Times

Very late blog tonight, sorry about that. I was going to do a 1%er post today, but I just haven't quite had the time. I haven't been flat out, but just a constant niggle of getting things done. Pretty much done for the day now though.

Not a lot to report on my front, just another day up here in Dili. A bit of a quieter day today with not so much running around, but just one big meeting instead. Still a very interesting day though. I have to say that Dili is growing on me. I have been coming up here for nearly 5 years now and it is amazing to see the amount of progress the country has made in those 5 years. I talk to people who have been coming up here since the end of the troubles and apparently the changes that have occurred in that time are staggering, as you can imagine. Even still, what I have seen in 5 years is impressive. Much of the progress in Timor Leste is Dili centric, but I guess it has to start somewhere.

When I first came up here in 2013 I was struck by how third world elements of the city were. I think most Australians would be surprised to see just how impoverished parts of Timor Leste are, given that it is our nearest neighbour. Now when we drive around Dili signs of that poverty are still there, but signs of development and improvement are everywhere. I suspect Australia will discover that it has a potential holiday destination right on its doorstep. At the moment it would be holiday's for those with a slightly more adventurous streak, but I suspect that will only keep improving. People talk about Vietnam being like Bali was 30 years ago and I can see some of those parallels here in Timor Leste. It doesn't have the resorts and the established tourist infrastructure yet, but I get the impression that the desire is there to create it. If those sorts of facilities are built well then I can see it becoming quite a popular location. Time will tell I think, but the changes are definitely coming.

It is funny being on this trip. In many ways it has felt like one of the race trips I have been taking for the last couple of years to South East Asia. This has been a trip to a new country with unfamiliar ways and customs, a country that I am not actually visiting as a tourist, but as somebody with a job to do. Just like a race trip. The main difference has been that I don't have the anxiety that comes with an impending race and I also have the freedom of knowing that I am not paying for this trip, which is a nice little bonus. Still, it has sort of been a little stroll down memory lane, at least in the way the trip feels, although I am not sure whether it has been a welcome stroll or an unwelcome reminder. I might have to get back to you on that one.

With today done my time in Dili is coming to an end and tomorrow it will be time to fly back to Perth again. I can safely say that there will definitely not be a post tomorrow, but I will be back on Friday. Really looking forward to being home and getting back on with life. Getting back into the groove of coaching, seeing Dr Stobie and finding out where I am at heart wise etc. Generally just getting back to all that I know and love.

Tuesday, 22 August 2017


I have to apologise for the rubbish posting over the last couple of days. No post yesterday and most likely a short post today. Simply not good enough I know.

The reason for my slackness is that I have been fairly with some travel for work. I am currently sitting in a hotel room in Dili (capital of Timor Leste) after a solid day of travel yesterday and a solid day of doing stuff today. I would tell you what stuff, but I am not allowed too so you will simply have to use your imagination. Helicopters were involved...

Here have a pretty photo of a Dili sunrise to help you feel better.

While the days have been busy, it has also been nice to be away for a little while. There is always a simple clarity that comes with traveling for work. You are there to do one thing and all you have to think about for a couple of days is that one thing. You don't have to get too caught up with coaching, or training, or distractions at work etc.

In fact, given the news I had on Sunday concerning my heart, it has been sort of nice to get away and think about something else. It is a bit frustrating being in limbo until I get back with respect to treatment options, but I get the impression this isn't going to be a quick fix anyway. I suspect that a training break is likely and so given that it is nice to be up here and having an enforced training break anyway.

My heart has been feeling fine, but that is not surprising since I am deliberately taking it very easy. I have been thinking that I am feeling more ectopic beats, but that might just be me being hyper sensitive.

And with that I think I am about done for now. Told you it would be a short one. Probably another short post tomorrow as I will still be in Dili and then quite possibly no post on Thursday as I travel home. Back to normal on Friday so bear with me.

Sunday, 20 August 2017

Word of the Day

So today's word of the day is arrhythmia.

An arrhythmia is defined by the Heart Foundation as:

An abnormal heart rhythm

It is also what Dr Stobie thinks might be going on. Specifically he is concerned about ventricular issues which according to the Heart Foundation  can stop the ventricle pumping blood around the body. It can result in sudden cardiac arrest.

So not good then.

I got a call from Dr Stobie today. Fair to say he is a bit concerned about what the tests showed last week. In particular he is worried about a string of 160 or so arrhythmic beats that strung together when I did exercise. That is not a good thing I am told. 

Following on from the ablation in February the hope of Dr Stobie and myself was that things would improve and settle down. That doesn't appear to be happening. Instead it would appear that with the ectopic beats settling down the arrhythmia has come to the fore. Whether it was there before is a bit unknown, but its presence now is a concern. The thought was that the level of extreme exercise I had been doing had caused problems in my heart which the ablation would hopefully sort out. The arrhythmia seen last week would indicate more of an underlying issue

What to do about it is also a bit of an unknown at the moment. Dr Stobie said he has spent the last few days thinking about it and talking to colleagues. They considered putting me on beta blockers to keep my heart rate from getting elevated (beta blockers suppress your heart rate), but the concern is that my resting heart rate is already so low that if they drive it lower it could be dangerous, particularly considering that I am getting on a plane tomorrow. Dr Stobie thinks my risk will be lower if I simply just do no exercise and keep my heart rate under control that way. 

Really, given that I am getting on a plane, there isn't actually a lot to do until I get back, other than keep my heart rate low. Dr Stobie is happy for me to still head away, as long as I don't do anything strenuous. Once I get back though things will kick off a bit more with a visit to see him next weekend and potentially another ablation the week after. Dr Stobie made mention of pace makers and all other manner of scary things, but he said not to worry too much about those and he didn't think they were likely. This whole thing may mean absolutely zero exercise for 6 months while we wait for my heart to shrink and see whether that improves things. Why wife is not looking forward to putting up with me if I have to abstain from exercise for 6 months, but she is willing to put up with it. 

Up until I started typing this I was actually feeling alright about the whole thing, but typing this has made me think about it a bit more. In this whole process I have almost felt a bit blase about it, it isn't good, but it isn't something that can be made better by getting angry or frustrated or scared, it is what is is. I also have never really felt like I am in any great danger. I have to say I don't really feel that right now. In fact the phone call from Dr Stobie makes me wonder how many times I may have nearly had a heart attack in the last couple of months when I have been having these heart rate spikes. I hope that I am overreacting and that the risk isn't actually that great, however, the sort of phone call I had today is quite a sobering experience. 

I have never really considered not doing exercise as a serious possibility. Deep down I have always known that I would be able to do some sort of exercise again, just not racing. Now I am not so sure. For the first time since this started I am just a little bit scared and I find that I am perfectly okay with the idea of not doing exercise anymore if that is what it takes to stay safe. 

We shall see.