9/24/2012 12:08 PM
By Meghann Ackerman
There are some unintended health benefits to being married to a guy with a congenital heart defect. While trying to wean Victor off take-out Chinese and meat-only meals, I’ve started eating better. And, as an attempt to get us both exercising more, I’m learning how to roller skate.
Aggressive inline skating has been Victor’s exercise of choice since his teen years, but as the falls have started hurting more and other responsibilities take priority he’s gone to the skatepark less and less. My learning how to skate ensures Victor skates and doesn’t let one of his passions fall to the wayside. And, you know, also gets me up and active.
As I understand it, gym class is complicated for a kid with a congenital heart defect. No gym teacher wants the distinction of having the kid with the heart condition collapse in his or her class. It’s an understandable fear on the teacher’s part, but doesn’t do right by the student.
Not being able to fully participate in activities is just another thing that set Victor apart from his peers and it also sent a weird message. On the one hand, exercise is good for his heart and overall fitness, but on the other, he needs to make sure he’s not pushing himself too hard.
Skating was the perfect compromise. Unlike soccer or basketball players, skaters don’t have to push themselves the whole time. Victor will put a lot of energy into doing a few tricks and then take a leisurely lap around the park or stop to watch someone else. Even on the competitive level, a round of skating will only take a few minutes and there usually aren’t teammates who will be let down if your heart is racing too fast and you need to sit out a round.
Very slowly and carefully I’m working my way up to actual skating. Although I harbor some fantasies of roller derby, I know the real reason I won’t give up is that my learning will keep Victor skating too.
Meghann Ackerman is a writer, cook, cat fancier, crafter and zombie enthusiast living in Boston. In 2011, she married Victor Morse, a graphic/web designer, video gamer, comic book reader and punster who has aortic stenosis. Armed with a poor understanding of science, Meghann is learning all she can about congenital heart defects and how they may affect her family.
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