Michelle's story

MICHELLE'S JOURNEY is a personal story from one of our Facebook group members.

It is about dedication and a fighting spirit in the face of challenges. It is about a sudden diagnoses and how with support from others, a life can be changed to win the battle. This story will inspire others to achieve the best of health within their own guidelines and abilities no matter how big or small.

Michelle has fought and won with sheer determination. Thank you for sharing this with us. Well done. We are proud of you Michelle.

I was 41 years old, running a busy business with my husband, overweight, and looking after 2 beautiful teenagers, when our life changed as we knew it at that time. I was having shortness of breath, would fatigue easily, couldn't sleep unless slightly sitting up, so decided to visit my GP, who diagnosed viral asthma and gave me a script said fill this and I'll review you in two weeks. Before the two weeks were up I couldn't walk a flat 10m without being out of breath, so after a phone call to the after-hour doctors on Saturday 13th July 2013, an ambulance was called and off to the hospital we went. Here we found out that my heart was enlarged, a leaking valve also in my heart, and one lung was partially collapsed and both were 25% full of fluid, with the doctors looking to drain my lungs until a changeover of doctors and the new head doctor said to call cardiac. ECG, Echocardiogram, and CAT scan done, my ejection fraction was at 20% and we were informed I'd had heart failure and had been left with viral cardiomyopathy as my diagnosis. I walked out of hospital three days later with an array of drugs, doctor appointments, cardiac rehabilitation to attended and unsure if anything was going to work.

The next four months was a battle of fatigue, and just trying to function normally, many hours were spent sleeping. I would get up and try and go for a 10 minute walk as often as I could, sometimes less than what I'd hoped, but just didn't have the energy to do anything. I was back at our business on the occasional day here and there doing very little to help but grateful to be out of the house. By the time November rolled around I was walking for half an hour 2-3 times a week, and feeling like I was getting somewhere. I'd lost a lot of weight, but wasn't feeling healthy. With my medication sorted and my body adjusting well I was starting to walk more and more each week and that was helping not only my physical well-being but also my mental well-being. I saw a Christmas I was unsure about and kept looking life in the eye and not quitting. As I was getting stronger physically, I started to look at events that I could enter, I did Raw Challenge here on the Central Coast in the March of 2014, then the Mother's Day Classic in the Domain Sydney May 2014, followed by the Bay to Bay back on the coast in June 2014, and then my first City2Surf in the August and I was hooked, from here I have done the City2Surf every year since.

In March 2015, we moved home and in the July, I joined the local gym, something that I have done previously but lost interest in this process very quickly as you become just another number to the big gyms, Allsorts Gym is a unique place that overlooks the river and has a very friendly and easy going feeling to it. This is where I met Sam, the person that really changed my life and am extremely honoured to call her my friend as well as my personal trainer. From August 2015 with her guidance, perseverance, patience, and knowledge I have been able to lose 32kg, and find myself for the very first time in my life.In March 2016, I participated in the Canberra Centennial Trail CBR100 25Klm event, which I completed in 5hrs 58mins. Come October 2016 I had decided that it was time to step it up and see what this body could do, so with my husband's not so sure you can but I'll support you ok, I signed up for the Ultra Trail Australia 50Klm Ultra Marathon, which takes place in the spectacular Blue Mountains, Katoomba. I have until May 2017 to prepare for this event. With Sam's help with the strength training I needed for this event, I also signed up with Squadrun for their running program that I would need to be able to just get to the start line. As the weeks ticked over so did the kilometres, and my fitness became even better, I was now running 5 times a week with a long run of anywhere up to 2.5 hours on my feet.

The 20th May finally rolled around and what I had spent the last 6 months training for was finally here. The biggest day of my life had finally arrived, along with course changes at the last minute because of the weather which meant added stress for my husband as he couldn't access me at all on the course like he thought he would be able to. My time to shine was finally here and wow what a day and an experience 50Klm through the most spectacular scenery was amazing, I started at 10:06am and finished at 9:48pm, finishing time of 11 hours 42 minutes for 50klm, and yes, a lot of this I did run, got held up a couple of times with one major hold up for an hour and a half because of ladders to get down a rock face. A very amazing day and yes, I am definitely going back next year along with my husband who is going to do the 22klm event.

4 years ago, I was around the 110kg and very unhealthy with viral cardiomyopathy, very lethargic, breathless, and struggling with day to day life, fast forward to today I'm now around 40kg lighter, fitter, stronger and healthier than I have ever been. I hope this gives hope to just one person that this disease doesn't have to rule our lives and that we can turn our lives around, I know not everyone is able to do this and to be honest it's not a journey for everyone but it's my journey and I wouldn't change anything because if it hadn't of happened I don't think I would have changed my ways
Thank you to my husband, Jason for being my rock and going along with my crazy dreams of becoming an ultra-marathon runner and continue my running, my children Bradley and Ashleigh for their also continued support along this journey, Sam my personal trainer that become a friend and is now part of our family, and to the rest of my family and friends for their support.

Postal address: PO Box 2006, Surrey Hills,
Victoria 3127, Australia

36 091 171 470