Overcoming Odds & Obstacles: Ironman Triathlete
“I always tell people it’s a whole different realm of crazy when you get into distances like this,” said Ironman triathlete Scott Johnson.
Thirty-seven-year old Scott Johnson is about to take on his fifth Ironman triathlon this weekend. A 2.4 mile swim, followed by a 112 mile bike ride, followed by a 26.2 mile run – in 17 hours or less. And he is doing it with someone else’s lungs. Scott grew up with cystic fibrosis. He weathered it pretty well, until he hit age 21.
“Everything started going downhill in 2001 and I was admitted to UNC hospital for pretty much the last time,” remembered Scott. “My doctors told me your either going to die here or you’re going to get a lung transplant and walk out of here. Lucky for me, I got the transplant on September 15th of 2001.”
The recovery was slow. Scott was very weak. There was the lingering chance of complications after a double lung transplant, all of which got Scott to thinking. “Well, I was in the hospital and having a particularly bad night and started making a list of things I wanted to do or hadn’t had time to do and a triathlon was near the top of that list,” he said.
Once he felt up to it, Scott started training. His wary doctors monitored him closely. Scott did his first triathlon in 2003 and has never looked back. He has defied the medical odds.
Scott said, “In a way I’m my doctor’s guinea pig. I told them awhile back I wanted to try scuba diving. They said to let them know how that works out.”
Scott said he is lucky in many ways. First of all, that the double lung transplant worked out so well medically. Secondly, that he had his near death experience early in life.
So often a heart attack or the like will strike in our 50’s or 60’s. Scott had his stop and smell the roses moment at the age of 21, and he has been sniffing those flowers with vigor ever since.
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