What's On My Mind
by Guy Cipriano

If Your Heart Stops, Your Squash Career Is Over

Posted April 30, 2014
In the middle of January I began to feel pain directly in the middle of my chest during squash matches. As each game heated up and I ran more, the pain increased.

When I stopped playing at each game’s end  the pain subsided and finally disappeared. However I was very fatigued all the time. Walking up a flight of stairs left me winded.

 At first I thought the problem was  indigestion, so I took Pepto Bismal. That didn’t work and the pain continued.

In the ensuing week I became convinced that I had exercise induced asthma because of the cold, dry air.

I searched the internet to figure out what was wrong with me.

I then  went to my  doctor and convinced him to give me an inhaler. He told me to stop playing and immediately  scheduled a stress test  to determine what was going on.

Naturally because I’m a squash fanatic I ignored his advice and  I kept playing , some days adding a late day  court tennis match to my normal lunchtime doubles game.

Finally on January 31st the pain became unbearable in the middle of a match. I showered up and drove myself to the hospital.

After having an EKG administered and blood drawn it was determined that I was having angina attacks , indicative of the blockage of a coronary artery. NOT GOOD.

The next day a catheterization was performed  in which the  doctor attempted to restore blood flow  by implanting a stent (or stents) to open the Left Anterior Descending ( LAD) artery.

He found all  my coronary arteries were totally open and in great shape, except for one- the most critical and largest artery.

The catheterization did not  work. The principal artery was 100% blocked and the blockage was as solid as concrete.

The LAD, by the way, is called the Widow Maker- not a happy thought.

I was left with two options- bypass surgery , or go home and eventually drop dead.

On February 4th I underwent double bypass open heart surgery. The surgery was a complete success.

Unfortunately the pain in the weeks following the operation was absolutely brutal. However each day the pain diminished and I got a little stronger.

Now twelve weeks later, having diligently participating in cardiac rehab, I’m back playing squash and court tennis   without limitation, completely pain free.



1.       If you feel chest pain when you’re playing, STOP PLAYING and see your doctor immediately.

2.       Your heart is right in the middle of your chest, not on the left side of your chest which is what I foolishly thought.

3.       If you feel pain in your jaw or going down your arm, STOP PLAYING and see your doctor immediately.

4.       Don’t try to self – medicate. If you do, you’re playing Russian roulette with your life.

5.       Going on WEBMD or some other internet website doesn’t not qualify you as a doctor to self- diagnose  what is going on with your body.  Leave that to the professionals.

Guy Cipriano was NJ state champion in 1995 and Met NY doubles champion in1988 in partnership with Steven Berliner. He was competed in league and tournament play since 1977. Guy was USA Lapham- Grant captain in 1993. He plays at the Whippanong , Short Hills and Tuxedo Clubs.

What's On My Mind is a column by rotating authors.
Contact: DailySquashReport@gmail.com

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