Anthony and I spent last week in Disney World with his family, pushing Rosie around the many parks in her stroller and watching as she happily bounced up and down and waved to different characters on all the rides. She especially loved It’s a Small Word (who doesn’t?), the Kilimanjaro Safari, and the Halloween parade.
As we made our way to Florida and then moved about the parks, I realized that even though having a heart condition can often be a really negative part of my life, there are some perks that I don’t mind enjoying. It’s always good to look on the bright side, right?
Four Perks of Having a Heart Condition:
- I don’t have to carry luggage (or anything else heavy) – Doctor’s orders: I can’t do any heavy lifting since it makes the heart work harder and can cause irregular heartbeats in people with a history of arrhythmia. Thus, I don’t have to carry my luggage to the car or a large load of laundry up my basement steps. Sometimes, I can’t unload my Costco purchases by myself. I’m lucky, of course, because I have a husband who always takes the burden of heavy lifting. And although sometimes it’s frustrating that I can’t do certain things without his help, it’s times like this when the poor thing is lugging the car seat and the Pack-n-Play through the entire airport, that I can’t really complain about this little perk.
- I get to take naps: My tricuspid valve is currently leaking. When a valve leaks, some blood flows back toward the heart rather than away from it. As a result, less than the normal amount of blood is pumped into the rest of the body. Since the body isn’t getting the proper amount of blood, it gets fatigued easily. Also, each day I take 50 mg of a pure beta blocker and 240 mg of a drug that is partially made of a beta blocker. Beta blockers block the effects of adrenaline in the body; this makes the heart beat more slowly and less forcefully, which lowers blood pressure. My regular blood pressure is about 100/60, but can sometimes be more like 90/60.
What all of that really means is that I’m tired. While there are days on which I’m probably tired like any other mother of a toddler, there are others when the fatigue becomes somewhat overwhelming, and I just really need a rest. These rests are even more important to me now as a mother because when I am awake, I want to have as much energy as possible in order to care for and play with my daughter.
I’m a 30-year-old woman who can take naps without any judgement from others. When I tell Anthony I need a rest, he lets me have one. If my mother or sisters are over, I can tell them I need to go lay down for a while. Most adults can’t get away with this behavior, but I can → Perk!
- Handicap Passes – This only applies when I am in some sort of amusement park, but it’s still a benefit of having a heart condition. We all know how long the lines are in Disney World, but for me the waits are rarely longer than 20 min. It may seem like I’m taking advantage of my situation, but I always tell the truth to get my pass. I don’t pretend I need a wheelchair or exaggerate my condition. I explain that I have congenital heart disease and apparently Walt Disney agrees that that warrants a handicap pass.
I travel to Disney often between my family, Anthony’s, and my cheerleading team who competes there. Depending on the time and the weather, I really do need the pass at times. After walking through the park to get to a ride, I sometimes need to enter as soon as possible to rest in the air conditioning or just sit down, even if I’m sitting in the dune buggy of the Haunted Mansion.
- It’s only a heart condition - I’m not going to lie. I’ve had some pretty difficult times because of my heart disease, emotionally and physically. But when you’re in a place like Disney World with so many different people and you see the physical hardships that some must face, when you hear of women your age and younger whose diseases are terminal, or about someone’s child’s negative prognosis, you realize that things could always be so much worse. Even though there have been days on which I resent this deformed heart of mine, even though there will be days in the future on which I hate having this condition, today I am grateful that it’s all I have.