Always turn your pain in to power

Before I begin, I would like to give thanks to Marcus, Rut and The Wizard for what you have all done in defending your country and the world, and for enriching the lives of all of us who listen to the TNQ podcast. Thank you.
My life has been blessed, I led a childhood where I was raised by a single mother who worked 3 jobs to make sure I was always fed, clothed and happy. Through her I learnt the value of hard work and sacrifice and putting family first always. I spent many weekends with her parents whom I thank the Lord for daily, they instilled discipline and stubbornness in me. Mum met the man I call Dad when I was six and he has taught me compassion and mindfulness. Like I said I led a blessed childhood, became a big brother at age 8 and again at 9. Played many sports and have made lifelong friendships but was never tested. This changed at age 24 when I collapsed whilst training with my AFL team. When I awoke I was staring at the lights on the far side of the field and had no idea what had just happened. I was sent straight to hospital where I was told I would be kept overnight for observations and would meet with a Cardiologist the next day. Little did I know this would be the beginning of a very long week. After seeing the Cardiologist, I was told they would keep me a couple more days for tests, these would include multiple cardio stress tests, echocardiograms and blood tests galore. With each set of results the doctors seemed perplexed, nothing stood out as remarkable (a term I have learnt is not so good in doctor speak). They went as far as a catheter exploration, shoving a long ass set of wires in my groin up to my heart and playing with it like it was a steel drum. Still nothing. After what I thought would be a normal MRI though I got the bad news, the words came out so slowly “Kieran, you have Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy”, my first thought was “WTF does that mean?”, instead of asking the question I just nodded my head. I had no idea what this meant and for the next 10-15 minutes the doctors explained the condition to me and my parents. They explained that I had beat the odds, they explained that I had collapsed form an episode know as Prolonged Ventricular Tachycardia, this kills 9 in 10 people who collapse from it. Also because Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy is hard to diagnose 8 in 10 people are diagnosed post-mortem. Damn odds were against me, but all I took out of the talk was that the next day I would be getting an ICD (Internal Cardiac Defibrillator) placed in my chest. After the tsunami of information had stopped I asked only one question “when can I go back to football and Crossfit?”. The doctors looked puzzled (I assume they had already told me this) and replied with “Kieran, you will not be able to return to these ever again, you will be able to exercise but will not be able to return to these sports again. I am sorry”. This was hard to hear but I refused to show how much it hurt me, not until in the middle of the night when I thought I was alone, I broke, tears flowing from my eyes like water pouring from a fire hose. As I laid there in my hospital bed alone sobbing I heard a voice, not one from someone physically present, it was an internal voice and all it said was “are you a lion or a sheep?” I was confused but heard it again “are you a lion or a sheep? Are you going to accept death that easy?”. At that very moment a switch went off in my head, I was not going to accept the doctors opinion, not for a second. For as well educated as they are there was one thing they knew nothing about, that thing is ME. Only I know ME and I know that I would rather risk it all to return to my beloved AFL and Crossfit, because if I didn’t try then to me I had accepted death, and I am not ready to die.
Six years on from this decision I have successfully returned to both and in September 2018 won a premiership with my AFL team. In October 2018 I ticked off another achievement, after losing 24kg (52.91 lbs) in a year I weighed in at 96kg (211 lbs), for the first time in my adult life I was under 100kg (220 lbs). I still go for my Cardiology check-ups each year and still am told to not to compete in both sports, but my Cardiologist now knows that I chose to be the anomaly and I chose to work hard to beat his text books odds. I now know that my childhood had unwittingly prepared me to be a fighter and to never quit just because someone else thinks I cannot do it. There was a line in a song that I have used to get me through all the tough days since and I have told it to those who I have spoken to going through their own adversities, “every day, every hour turn your pain in to power”. This is my #neverquit story and I hope it can someday inspire even just 1 person to never quit either.

Author: Kieran