Monday, June 7, 2010

Twin Cities Heart Walk 2010

I've been planning on walking in the Twin Cities Heart Walk as a milestone in my recovery. Saturday morning I put on my zipper shirt and headed out to Target Field bright and early at 8am, and enjoyed exploring the stadium and all the booths and displays. I had my picture taken with the North Memorial team at 8:30, and met up with my parents at about 9am and gave them the tour. We had fun walking around Target Field, getting some free stuff, and taking in the whole event. We took a brief trip to the upper deck to see our season ticket seats and enjoy the view. I got a free massage for my sore neck at a massage & chiropractic rehab clinic booth, got some freebie toys for Nathan, a free pedometer, and enjoyed some free fruit and granola bars from a tent out on the Twins Plaza.

Most importantly, I got a free hat. Now I'm not much of a hat person, but it's what the hat meant. They only gave them to heart disease survivors. I just told the girl running the giveaway table I had heart surgery 2 months ago. Thankfully she believed me so I didn't have to show off my incision scar! Speaking of heart disease survivors... they had a nice "survivors area" set up with tables to sit at and get off your feet and out of the crowd. The area was roped off and they had free coffee and food for the survivors as well. What I found ironic and quite funny was the selection of food made available to the heart survivors there... just donuts and pastries. Glazed, fruit and cream filled, high fat and high sugar. Not exactly heart-healthy, but a nice gesture. While I was tempted, I passed and got a free banana outside. Now I just have to work on resisting food temptations like this more often.

Beth and I are fans of the NBC show The Biggest Loser, and O'Neal (the Minneapolis contestant from the most recent season of the show) made an appearance at the Heart Walk. Beth and I really liked O'Neal and his daughter Sunshine on the show regardless of them being from Minneapolis. I figured Beth would get a kick out of this so I said hello to him, told him my wife and I were big fans, and were proud of him and his daughter (who lost 124 lbs and 99 lbs respectively). He was very kind and appreciative during our brief exchange. I had my mom take my picture with him, and he proceeded to give both of us hugs, which I thought was nice. After we walked on, it dawned on me he probably thought mom was my wife, since I mentioned that my wife and I were big fans, and Beth hadn't arrived yet. We all got a good laugh when I shared my realization with Mom, Dad, and Beth later while we were walking.

Nathan woke up from his morning nap at just the right time so Beth could make it out for the start of the walk at 11am. Before we hit the street I changed into my North Memorial team shirt I had picked up earlier in the morning. Thousands of walkers poured out into the street, and filled the streets around the stadium. The rain was very light, and we didn't need our umbrellas for most of the walk. The first mile ran right through downtown, which was fun, and looped back to Target Field where people had the option to stop or keep going for the full 3-mile walk. Beth and Nathan stopped after the first 1-mile leg so she could go home and feed him.

Mom and Dad and I walked the remaining two miles, and eventually met up with one of my cardiac rehab nurses who walked with us for about the last mile. Once we got back to Target Field, Mom & Dad hopped back on the light rail to go home, I hung around a little while, and then headed home myself. Overall it was a great experience and we all had a good time. Two months ago I could hardly walk a block without burning chest pain. I've since had open heart surgery, narrowly avoided a heart attack, and now completed a 3-mile walk with no difficulty. Needless to say it feels great to be able to do the walk, and to be where I am today. I'm looking forward to getting back to a normal routine.

6 comments:

  1. Hi, Ben. I recall meeting you when you were looking for a shirt and didn't even realize you were a survivor! Thanks for coming out to be part of the North Memorial team of walkers. Would you mind if we link to your blog post from our Twitter feed and/or Facebook page? It's always fun to share patient stories.

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  2. No problem Andy, feel free to link to my post. Out of curiosity, how did you happen to come across my blog?

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  3. Hi Ben, I'm the communications director for the Twin Cities Am Heart Assoc office, we're so excited to hear about your wonderful experience at the Heart Walk! I also maintain our local Facebook Fan page (check it out at www.facebook.com/AHAminnesota). Can I link our facebook page to your blog? Also, if you are interested in becoming a spokesperson or volunteer, please feel free to drop me an email at elizabeth.warmka@heart.org.
    Thank you!

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  4. Thanks for the note Elizabeth, feel free to share my blog post.

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  5. Cool -- thanks, Ben. It was forwarded to me by Meghan at the AHA.

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  6. What fun to read your perspective on the day. We loved being a part of it! We hated to have to leave so quick but it was so neat that the train was sitting right there, doors open, ready to go and we learned from our trip up that they don't wait a second longer! So it was a QUICK hug good bye, not the usual "minnesota goodbye!” Thanks for being such a gracious host to us and for making us feel so welcome!

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