So many people have listened to my heart. When I was born it had holes between its chambers and a stiff pulmonary valve.
When I was two they stitched the holes and stented the valve.
I can't imagine what it must have been like for my parents in those early years, but what I do know is how great a gift they gave in letting me be born deep in the heart of the Rocky Mountains.
Life is active in Colorado and with no post-surgical restrictions on my activity I remember countless hours each week playing at various indoor and outdoor sports and activities.
Through all this my heart gave me no problems and indeed it excelled.
It was only in my twenties I learned all this activity had been making my valve leak and that until it got bad enough to warrant a valve replacement, that in the meantime my heart would keep growing both larger and stronger to compensate.
10 years later we went in for the repair.
I took 6 months off work and over a year to recover. The first weeks I found myself mainly in bed just breathing or meditating or reading or sleeping or watching oh so many box sets. I had to teach myself to do everything again. I remember taking a walk or two each day and that they would wear me out!
While I would always rehab with a heart monitor, the most important lesson I learned from my weekly therapy was to to be able to actually feel my heart beating inside my chest and feel how it's beat would change as I exercised, to know my own 60% and 80%.
I hadn't anticipated how much my newfound heart awareness would come to matter to me outside of physical activity though. How I would learn to feel the ways a confrontation, a scary movie, a kiss or a pang of sadness would hit my heart.
In the end I feel so lucky to have been given this chance to get to know my heart better. To have learned new ways to sense relationships between mind and heart and body. Since my surgery I have vowed to give back from this body of new knowledge into the community. I've built heart-awareness as a foundation of many coaching and teaching sessions.
I started Sharkey and Friends Health and Wellness to work together with others towards a healthier London. Please help me in realising this ambition.