By Del Corsi
“Yes, you can go”, these were the words I heard on October 15, 2012. The “go” was in reference to a three month trip to the Big Island of Hawai’i. “Yes” meant the two stents that were inserted into the coronary artery referred to as the “widow-maker” were doing their job, exactly the words I wanted to hear from my cardiologist. The stents were inserted on September 22nd of 2012.
I had been rushed to a cardiology ward in Kelowna, BC by ambulance late the night before, from my hospital two hours away. Hospital staff had called for a helicopter; however weather prevented that bird from flying. I had three attendants in the back of the wagon, tubes were in both arms, oxygen was flowing into the mask on my face, my chest was prepped, just in case the “paddles” were needed! Magnesium was injected into my arm; the warmth of this protective mineral could be felt as it flowed along the route toward my heart. The “boys” and I made jokes about electricity and such, maybe them more than me?
In the ten days prior to this I had experienced eight “events” of what was referred as V.T. [Ventricular Tachycardia], six of which had troponin leaks, which is a hormone secretion that signals some death of the heart muscle.
In Kelowna they had an angiogram test which is 100% accurate, the mebe test, 85%. The results showed a blockage in the main coronary artery of 90% in one part, and 80% in another. The doctor asked if I wanted open heart surgery or stents, after the previous ordeal “stents” sounded just fine. Two drug alluding stents were inserted through an artery in my wrist right into my coronary artery. The doctor put me on a tread mill the next day; I passed the test and home I went!
My wife and I had regularly made trips to Kailua Kona in the past, we thought three months would be just what we needed to recuperate and heal, not just for me though. It is one thing to be the patient with a life threatening illness, however it is much harder to be the loved one or family member watching us going through these ordeals. My wife was looking forward to some “Aloha” just as much as I was.
On previous trips we had tried stand up paddling and loved the amazing water of Kailua Bay. Ian & Lauren of Hyper Nalu Board Shop were great to us. They showed us the basics of the sport and pointed us on our way. My wife was not as keen on the water as I was, daily rentals were adding up, so most days it was just me on the board. Each day I would lie on the beach, trying to relax and heal, however the water always seemed to be calling. Board rentals were adding up, seeing this, Ian offered me an exceptional deal on a beautiful 11’2” bamboo board. My wife said “Merry Christmas”, and the bay became my healing zone.
The board became my trainer and step by step my body healed and improved, we ate well, fresh local fruit, fish, lots of salmon. Not once was there any angina or symptoms of heart pain. Each morning in Kona began with stretching & light exercise, then a ten minute walk to the beach, then the board! The benefits of paddling are tremendous, your core is the center to all movement, paddling strengthens your core without putting stress on your back. Balance improves, you suddenly notice you are standing taller and sitting straight like we are meant to. The spectacular water on my board was opening up a new exciting world to me, sea turtles were just beneath my board, spinner dolphins were dancing out of and on the water, whales were breaching on the distance. The paddleboard was giving me a confidence as each day I would go out a little further. I was continually thanking God for not only healing my heart disease but allowing me to see the ocean on this magical craft that was getting me on with not just life, but living!
One of the most amazing things about this SUP thing were the great people we met. One person who really helped has become a very good friend, despite the miles we live apart. His name is George (Kaimana) Yasuda.