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    Posted December 2, 2012 by
    Woodstock, Georgia
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    CNN Fit Nation: 2013 Triathlon Challenge

    Not Looking For Strike Three


    My name is Jeff Garrison. I am 45 years old, 6'4", and weigh 275 pounds. I have had 2 significant health events in the last 5 years. The first was in 2007 when I was taken to the ER with multiple blood clots in both lungs, or multiple bi-lateral PEs. I was in the hospital for a week so that my body could get the blood thinners regulated. After a week I was released and was able to start my recovery.


    Event number 2 was in September of 2009, when I woke up to go to work and was in the process of having a TIA or what was later diagnosed as a moderate stroke...at the age of 43! What the doctors determined was the root cause was that I have a hole in my heart, or a PFO. Again, I was put on blood thinners, this time permanently, and had the "pleasure" of staying at the hospital for another week. After being released, I was supposed to follow the "Heart Healthy" diet. Notice I say supposed to. I started out watching what I was eating and slowly lost some weight. After getting a full blood panel, it was determined that I run low in Vitamin D and also low in Testosterone. As a result, I take supplements for both of those.


    About a year post stroke, I developed depression and anxiety, which is supposedly common post stroke. I now see a psychiatrist on a regular basis.


    Another issue that I had pre stroke and pre PE is that I have Obstructive Sleep Apnea. Prior to those events, I tried unsuccessfully to use a CPAP machine. Since having the stroke, I now use it every night and have to have oxygen supplemented to the CPAP. I found this out the hard way by having night time seizures. Once that diagnosed, I was placed on Keppra to help control them. And, at the direction of my pulmonologist, oxygen was supplemented. Since adding the oxygen, I have only had one night time seizure, which has been since April of 2012.


    After 3 years of "surviving" a stroke, I consider myself quite lucky and extremely grateful that I am still alive and in the capacity I am. The only lasting effect of having the stroke is having asphasia, or the condition of sometimes not being able to find the right word or having difficulty expressing my thoughts quickly and concisely. Most people don't realize that I have it, but it is more noticeable to me. The only residual effect of the PEs is having scar tissue in my aorta.


    High Cholesterol runs in my family, but none of the other items (blood clotting issues or stroke) do.


    What I'm looking to get out this is a reboot of my life. I have been married for 17 years and have a beautiful 10 year old daughter. I want to have the nutritional guidance of a professional who knows what they are working with and what the end result needs to be.


    I try to go to the gym when I can, but I do not have the luxury of a personal trainer that can guide me. This time last year, I managed to drop about15 pounds between Thanksgiving and Christmas and ran my first 5K in about 10 years on Thanksgiving Day of 2011.


    Also, the fact that I have lived in the Atlanta area for 22 years now, I used to run regularly and used to do quite a few road races. For the first 10 years I lived here, I ran the Peachtree Road Race 8 times. I also did numerous 5K races. But that all stopped as work grew more hectic and stressful and my daughter was born.


    Last year I had the ability to volunteer at my daughter's school with their annual 5K run that benefits both the elementary school and the high school. I liked doing it, in the fact that I had always been on the runner side instead of the organizer side. After making some suggestions, I was asked to be on the committee this year. I actually had alot of fun doing it and got satisfaction out of doing it.


    I am pretty confident that I could get the clearance from my doctors to participate in the challenge. I think that if they knew that I would have the benefit of the diet/nutrition, cardio activity, and most importantly, the weight loss, I don't think there would be an issue. The only thing that I would have to make sure that I keep monitored is my INR for my blood thinner.


    There are a few important reasons that I would like to be a part of this:
    1. To make a positive lifestyle change.
    2. Most importantly, I want to be here for my family and see my daughter grow up. I want to be here to walk her down the aisle one day.
    3. I also want to be a role model for people that have gone through the same things that I have (PE and stroke) and inspire them to continue fighting and not give up. I also want to be a positive role model for my daughter and show her that exercise is a good thing and never quit trying to do better for your life.
    4. I would really like to get off some of the medications that I am on.


    In closing, I would like to thank everyone for their consideration in allowing me to be a part of this challenge.

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