My HCM Part Five - Recovery: A Snowy Interview with Spectrum News 1

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Stuart O. Smith, Jr.

January 22, 2024, Stuart O. Smith, Jr., with Spectrum News 1 reporter Kimberly Perez at Bridal Veil Falls parking in Bedford Reservation, Cleveland Metroparks
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On June 11, 2023, I ended my third Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy blog post questioning whether I would have a fourth "recovery" blog post:

Fourth HCM Blog Post??

As I was writing the outline for these three HCM blog posts, I also envisioned a potential fourth blog post entitled: My Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy Part Four: Recovery, which would be about normal life after I am fully recovered from my early 2023 symptoms. At this point, I doubt I will write a fourth blog post, but know that all future blog posts about my having a normal life will be made possible due to the diagnosis and treatment I received from the doctors and nurses of University Hospitals.

On Thursday, December 28, 2023, I did publish my fourth Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM) blog post. The blog post was about WKYC TV-3 featuring both my story of recovery from open-heart surgery, and my fall 2023 Appalachian Trail backpacking trip, in their "Heartstrings" series.

This, my fifth HCM blog post, is about my being interviewed on January 22, 2024, by Spectrum News 1 reporter Kimberly Perez. It is a continuation of the last HCM recovery blog post, and a result of my cardiologist, Eiran Gorodeski MD, MPH, recommending that I share my story on television. I refer to this as my second "recovery" blog post of my HCM series.



My Backstory

10 backstory photos from the blog post: My HCM Part Four: Recovery & A.T. Hike Featured on WKYC TV-3
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The University Hospitals HCM Center can be reached by phone at: 216-286-4HCM (4426). I decided that, before telling you my backstory . . . I would share these resources here in case you know someone who could use this information

It was quite a shock to go from being able to hike 22 days on the Continental Divide Trail in April 2022, to not being able to walk up two steps without being completely winded in April 2023. At one point, Dr. Gorodeski happened to see me barely able to walk while leaving an appointment with another doctor at the University Hospitals Minoff Health Center, and based on how I looked, he asked if I wanted to be admitted to a hospital -- I was in a bad state.

I go into great detail in my first HCM recovery blog post about my history of backpacking and about all the things I have been able to do since I had my successful recovery from open-heart surgery. I also provide some resources that I was sent about the University Hospitals Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy Board. To learn more details, I strongly recommend looking at the photos and reading the text of my backstory on:

Just like my first three HCM blog posts [1) Diagnosis, 2) Surgery, 3) Hospital & Home] presented my treatment milestones, I had key recovery milestones that show that I am back to being healthy again. Here is the summary:

(The above is just a summary, so again, I recommend reading more details in my previous HCM recovery blog post!)

After returning from my Appalachian Trail backpacking trip, I wrote what I call my "success" letter to my cardiac surgeon, Dr. Yasir Abu-Omar, and my cardiologist, Eiran Gorodeski MD, MPH. I had drafted this letter in my head while I will still in the hospital last April, and I was so glad to be able to send it, since it confirmed that I was healthy again to live my life fully!!

. . .

. . . Dr. Gorodeski's October 16, 2023, 9:55 am, reaction to my email -- "Wow..! That is amazing" -- which led me to receive an email . . . the very same day from University Hospitals Senior Media Relations Strategist Carly Belsterling. This led to me being interviewed [for television.]



Monday, January 22, 2024 - The Interview on a Snowy Buckeye Trail

Monday, January 22, 2024, Kimberly Perez interviews Stuart O. Smith, Jr., on a snowy Buckeye Trail.
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From: Kimberly Perez
Subject: Re: Enjoyed meeting you yesterday -- here are links
Date: January 23, 2024 at 8:48:40 AM EST
To: Stuart O. Smith, Jr.

Hi Stuart,

It was lovely meeting you and your wife yesterday. Thank you for helping explore another piece of beautiful Ohio!

Thank you for all the info! It always helps to have more for online piece.

Please thank you Julie for the photos she took of me! I’m sending them to my family who will absolutely love them!!

I will keep you posted on when the story will air.

Thank you and happy trails!

Hiking on the Buckeye Trail, starting two months after my open-heart surgery, was a big part of my recovering my strength, stamina, and balance. Thus, I arranged for my December 5, 2023, WKYC TV-3 interview to take place on the Buckeye Trail at Lake Metroparks Penitentiary Glen Reservation.

When I was contacted to be interviewed by Kimberly Perez from Spectrum News 1 on Monday, January 22, 2024, I again thought it was very important to have the interview take place on the Buckeye Trail. I suggested she conduct the interview while we hiked together on the Buckeye Trail to the Bridal Veil Falls Scenic Overlook in the Cleveland Metroparks Bedford Reservation. These Falls are on a beautiful section of the trail that is easy to reach by a short walk from your car.

I arranged for my wife and co-blogger, Julie, to join us to take photos of the interview process. I am so glad that she was able to attend, since she captured the beauty of the area with her photography. The day after I posted photos, the Buckeye Trail Association shared my Facebook post with their 11,000+ Facebook followers.

January 23, 2024, the Buckeye Trail Association shared my Facebook post of my interview by Spectrum News 1 reporter Kimberly Perez.
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The temperature was in the 30s when Kimberly Perez and I starting talking while walking down the trail. She used her smartphone to record my answers to her questions, as I told my story of past backpacking trips; my debilitating HCM symptoms in the spring of 2023; and my recovery, which led to my backpacking trip on the Appalachian Trail.

Kimberly Perez used her smartphone to record my recovery story.
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Kimberly Perez is from Los Angeles, California, and only moved to Ohio recently. It was great to hike with her and see the beauty of the snow-covered trail and evergreen trees through her eyes. Experiencing snow is new for her. As you can see from the email that I included at the top of this section, Kimberly shared with her family the experience by sending them photos of our Buckeye Trail hike.

Kimberly Perez interviews Stuart O. Smith, Jr., on a snowy Buckeye Trail.
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Beautiful pines and frozen river on this snowy path.
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Here are the two photos I took of Kimberly Perez when we arrived at the Bridal Veil Falls Scenic Overlook, along with my photo of the frozen river.

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Kimberly Perez enjoying the view from Bridal Veil Falls Scenic Overlook. She took a photo looking farther downstream.
Kimberly Perez at the Bridal Veil Falls Scenic Overlook.

Frozen river above Bridal Veil Falls.
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I really like this area in the wintertime. I wrote a blog post about hiking to Bridal Veil Falls Scenic Overlook when I was hiking/biking the Buckeye Trail "Little Loop" (over 250 miles in northeast Ohio) in 2020. I was carrying a full pack and the temperature was 17°F:



Bridal Veil Falls - 2024 Cleveland Metroparks Trail Challenge Presented by MetroHealth

Bridal Veil Falls - 2024 Cleveland Metroparks Trail Challenge presented by MetroHealth
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Bedford Reservation
0.2 miles: Bridal Veil Falls 41.371820, -81.548877
This short stroll takes you down a few sets of stairs before you cross a bridge where you can take in the beautiful falls. Come after a strong rain and you’ll see a great sight!

Welcome to the 2024 Trail Challenge, a guest led program where you are challenged to complete 10 trails in 10 different Cleveland Metroparks reservations on your own in 2024! Explore new trails, move to better health, discover the wonders of nature, and earn a prize.

My wife and co-blogger, Julie, and I have completed the Cleveland Metroparks Trail Challenge in the past, taking most of the year to do it. For this February 2024 American Heart Month, I decided to do something different, and complete the challenge in one week (which I did during the first full week of February). To my surprise, the 0.2-mile walk to Bridal Veil Falls that I had already done with Kimberly Perez was one of the first trails listed. Therefore, I have already begun the 2024 Trail Challenge!

Read about how I hiked trails in ten more Cleveland Metroparks reservations, plus participated in a Northeastern Ohio Orienteering Club event, in another blog post that I am also publishing today:

Before publishing this blog post, I sent an email to Kimberly Perez letting her know that our walk to Bridal Veil Falls is part of the 2024 Cleveland Metroparks Trail Challenge. Since she is new to Northeast Ohio, I suggested that these challenge hikes would be a good way for her to learn about our local parks!



Saturday, February 10, 2024 - Spectrum News 1 Shared My Story for American Heart Month

Spectrum News 1 story about me: Avid hiker back on the trails after open-heart surgery

. . .

Smith was diagnosed with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.

Dr. Eiran Gorodeski is a cardiologist with University Hospitals Harrington Heart & Vascular Institute and is Smith’s doctor.

“Every once in a while, you hear a scary story of basketball player or a football player that drops dead on the field,” Gorodeski said. “One of the most common reasons that happens to these young people who are athletes is undiagnosed hypertophic cardiomyopathy.”

HCM is a condition where the heart muscle is thickened and, in more extreme states of disease, it can be harder for the heart to pump blood.

Gorodeski said the condition is the most common inherited disease of the heart. He said one in 500 people may have HCM. Although the condition can be treated with medication, some patients require surgery.

“They actually remove the portion of the thickened heart that leads to blockage of blood flood out of ventricle to the aorta,” Gorodeski said.

Smith underwent that procedure.

. . .

Five months after open-heart surgery, Smith hiked 50 miles on the Appalachian Trail and crossed Mount Greylock, the highest point in Massachusetts.

On Saturday, February 10, 2024, at the same time I was heading to a Northeastern Ohio Orienteering Club event, Spectrum News 1 posted their video about me. Please watch the video and accompanying article:

Note that in the video, I point to the map on my special Appalachian Long Distance Hikers Association (ALDHA) shirt. The shirt is from 2018 and it was created to recognize the 50th Anniversary of the National Trails System Act. (The Appalachian Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail were established in 1968.)


Related Blog Posts

I always like to end my blog posts with a list of related blog posts. I hope you explore some of the following that may interest you.

Learn about my experience with HCM in my first three Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy blog posts:

Then, read about everything I could do after my surgery, and watch my WKYC TV-3 interview, in my first recovery blog post:


Here are blog posts about activities and traveling I was able to do this year as an outcome of my successful April 27, 2023, open-heart surgery:


In addition to the following blog post about hiking on the Bedford Section of the Buckeye Trail, please visit my "Cleveland Metroparks" and "Buckeye Trail" blog tags for additional items of interest.


Learn about my participation in the inaugural (2017), 2020, and 2024 Trail Challenge in these blog posts:


There is a high level of overlap here between these topics, but see the following blog tags: Backpacking, "hike," "trails," and "ALDHA" (Appalachian Long Distance Hikers Association).


I am already planning more adventures in 2024, which are possible thanks to my successful open-heart surgery at University Hospitals.