Fate Taps Gently On The Door: Self-Awareness Can Save Your Life (It Did Mine!).


Hi folks!

It is important to remember that fate sometimes taps gently on the door of our consciousness. It can be fatal not to listen. This is certainly true of many aging conditions, including aneurysms. So! For older athletes, who better to turn to for advice than the more mature athlete? For instance, Martin Duff wrote as follows in a recent article in Athletics Weekly, entitled ‘Life in the Old Dog Yet:’

“The advice I would give to the older athlete is to listen to your body. We have nothing to prove, we run because we enjoy it, but it takes longer for us to repair.”

Listening to your body is a learned skill, and it is something that you might undertake (excuse the pun!) with some benefit. For me, the gentle tapping was my abdominal pulse. I finally put two and two together and realized that this seemingly benign sensation was not OK! It felt OK, but that, combined with a bizarre pain in my feet in a recent race, got me thinking. Having a background in pathology I fairly quickly came to the conclusion that I might just be experiencing a message from an abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA). Unfortunately I was right. However, I was also born at the right time, and I was rescued from trans-abdominal surgery by an endovascular surgeon, Jo Fulton, and the Cook’s Zenith stent graft that he and his team placed in my distal aorta.

Next I had to overcome fear, which I did with the help of Lance Armstrong’s Book, ‘It Is Not About The Bike.’ More recently, I had to deal with stent-induced hypertension with the assistance of an ACE inhibitor. I was lucky that my new coach, Eric Bean, understands the thing because of his background in Biomedical Engineering. A fortunate combination of physician, engineer and coach – how about that!

I am finally back in training, unlike some less fortunate people that I hear about from time to time. If you go to the Chez Ollie you can read the stories of people mourning the loss of a loved one to a ruptured AAA. Body awareness can be the key to many more happy years of living, so get to know your body. Don’t live in fear, but do heed that gentle tapping on the door of your consciousness. But don’t open it, as it might just be the grim reaper!


Kevin (very lucky athlete!). aka -k Your Medical Mind



  1. Great points Kevin! As athletes we definitely know when something is “off” with our bodies. My workouts were okay, but I was experiencing some unusual shortness of breath during conversations, and doing business on the telephone. I knew something was not right which prompted a physical (okay I admit my wife was pleading with me to have one done). Shortly afterwards I had a stress test and they found an ascending aortic aneurysm over 5cm. The fear part is tough. Having been a specimen of health and an athlete my whole life I was terrified of going under the knife for something as brutal as open heart surgery. That stubbornness and denial (and fear), caused me to postpone surgery for over six months. I nearly killed myself, as when I finally gave into surgery the aneurysm was over 7cm.

    I’m here to say I should have had the procedure earlier and not gambled with death. You and I are both examples that life can go on after these types of procedures, even for athletes.

    Great post. You’re an inspiration to……when I read about your training it makes me feel lazy! I need to step mine back up to more than a couple times a week. I’ve gotten complacent since the Marathon last November.


  2. Kevin Morgan says

    Hi! Benjamin,

    I really enjoyed your book! Let me know if you want to do a marathon together sometime. Then you would have a chance to try running with ‘old people,’ which might be nice. A beer together afterwards would be even better!



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Disclaimer: As a veterinarian, I do not provide medical advice for human animals. If you undertake or modify an exercise program, consult your medical advisors before doing so. Undertaking activities pursued by the author does not mean that he endorses your undertaking such activities, which is clearly your decision and responsibility. Be careful and sensible, please.