Bulan back on his feet
June 9 was just another day for New Canaan girls hockey coach Rich Bulan.
He went up to Jonathan Law High School to watch some of his players compete for the Class L girls lacrosse title.
On his otherwise ordinary walk to the stadium, something changed.
“I felt this cramp, and it wasn’t even pain,” Bulan said. “It was just this cramp like when you were a kid and ran too much and I was like, ‘whoa, where there that come from?’ But I got to the game and it went it away.”
Bulan watched New Canaan take the crown, went home and considered having his wife bring him to the hospital.
However, that night his family was celebrating Father’s Day, so he withheld his worries—experiencing no symptoms at that point.
After the festivities ended, Bulan wisely reversed course and told his wife what was going on, resulting in a nighttime trip to Bridgeport Hospital.
“I told my wife we need to take a ride, and she asked why I didn’t tell her earlier,” Bulan said. “I didn’t want to freak anyone out, but we go and I’ve never been to Bridgeport hospital on a Saturday night where there was nobody there, but I was the only costumer and I got in right away. So, they did tests and said I didn’t have a heart attack and all the tests were clean.”
But this wasn’t Bulan’s first experience with cardiovascular issues.
“I had two stents done back in 2006,” he said. “I was really out of control, I put on a bunch of weight and wasn’t exercising and that was a really big wakeup call when I had that done. I was in and out of the hospital in one day and started religiously going to the gym, I think I was close to 260 and I got down to around 240 and started doing the gym and this and that and it’s been 12 years and it’s been going pretty well.”
So the physicians conducted more tests, eventually opting to go into Bulan with a camera, and finding blockage by both his stents that ultimately required a double-bypass procedure.
“Luckily everything went well,” Bulan said. “It’s a tough surgery, but I got through it, had a lot of visitors, a couple players came up and got through my stay and once I came home I started walking and did everything they told me I should and two weeks ago started the cardio rehab. I love it when people look at me and tell me I look great, because I’ve been trying, I want to be ready for the winter season.”
To make matters even more interesting, at the time of his surgery Bulan’s daughter’s wedding was just two weeks away.
Bulan got the OK from the doctors and being the warrior he is, made it with no issue.
“I walked my daughter down the aisle, I got through the father, daughter dance,” Bulan said proudly. “I went to all the tables and talked to everybody, I had a really good time.”
A coworker of Bulan’s at Saxe Middle School advised that his stamina would be low, and to get himself comfortable at the wedding as soon as possible.
“I went in the lobby and found this beautiful cushioned chair,” Bulan said. “(Darien girls hockey coach and Bulan’s best friend Jamie Tropsa) told me I look like the godfather and I think I slept 11 hours that night.”
There’s no doubt that personality-wise, Bulan is back to his usual upbeat self. He’s already thinking about his annual family Thanksgiving at his house and what should be an exciting girls hockey season in the winter.
And for the thousands of lives he’s touched in Connecticut—mine included—that’s truly heartwarming to see.
“I feel really good,” he said. “It’s like night and day.”