Great First Book, Great First Marathon, Great First Open Heart Surgery – Book Review: ‘Barefoot in November’

Hi folks!

A very fit Benjamin Carey, father of two and one on the way, at the ripe old age of 37, was diagnosed with an aortic aneurysm in 2009. This aneurysm was not quite so big as mine at the time of diagnosis (men will compete about anything!), but it was in a much more difficult place to treat, the ascending aorta close to the heart. Interestingly, in spite of our 30 year age difference, in many respects his response to this challenge was similar to mine in that we both created a blog (Heartosaurus in his case) as a direct result of our experience, we suffered the same inevitable fear and distress, and  finally we both made the decision to accept the situation and get on with life, and to keep training and racing.

Benjamin’s book describes his experiences, before, during, and after surgery, through to his completion of the New York City Marathon one year to the day after the open heart surgery that was undertaken to correct his aneurysm (which was bigger than mine by that time, I hasten to add!). I couldn’t resist checking his stats for the race, and here they are, revealing an excellent race time for anyone’s first marathon:

Brief Book Review: I went on line last week to purchase Benjamin’s book, entitled ‘Barefoot in November.’ It arrived in my mailbox on Thursday and I had read it from cover to cover by Sunday morning, in spite of many interruptions. It was a fascinating and emotional read for me. Benjamin describes his distressing and fear-laden journey through diagnosis, denial, anger, frustration, unwilling acceptance, actual acceptance, surgeon selection, surgery, recovery with a few ‘road bumps,’ and then the birth of his third child, and finally training for the New York City Marathon whilst still recovering from the preceding events. Now! That was a busy year!

This book brought back many memories of my aortic surgery, especially the associated fear, the critical need for support of family and friends, and the courage needed to face the issue head on. This book made me cry a little (not very British!), laugh a lot, and it provides the much needed inspiration that we all need to survive life’s difficulties and challenges with a positive spirit. Benjamin’s writing style reminds me of the way another one of my heroes, Tim Ferriss, writes – a young guy with real balls! How his wife puts up with him I have no idea, but he sure loves her and their kids.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who has relatives, friends, or children that they care about; aka everyone! I would also encourage people to put out the word, as ‘Barefoot in November’ chronicles the critical nature of listening to your body and then doing something about any warning signals, which can be very subtle. Denial can kill, and it nearly did kill Benjamin Carey. Thank goodness he listened, finally! What is more, he is working hard as an advocate for awareness of the risks associated with aortic aneurysms, which are much more common than most people realize.

Great job on all fronts! I must add, as the author did in his extensive acknowledgments section, that it is evident that his successes were attributable in no small part to the perseverance of his wife, Nicole!

Congratulations to Benjamin Carey, his family, friends, and all of his healthcare providers.

Thanks so much for writing this important book!





  1. Rory Conolly says

    That’s cool, Kevin. Sounds like a fellow traveler.

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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.