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Posts by Meghann Ackerman

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The Positive Side of a Doctor Deficit

by Meghann Ackerman on Thursday, Jul 16, 2015

Generally, a doctor shortage isn’t good news. But a recent report from Washington D.C.’s WTOP on a doctor deficit has me smiling.

Right now doctors trained to treat adult congenital heart defects are struggling to keep up with their patient loads. I definitely have sympathy for the busy doctors and anyone having trouble scheduling an appointment, but I can’t help celebrating the good news hidden in there: People with congenital heart defects are living longer.

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CHD and the Snow

by Meghann Ackerman on Monday, Mar 16, 2015

If you’re reading this from the greater Boston area, CONGRATULATIONS! Over the weekend it became official that we survived the snowiest winter since folks in these parts started keeping records.

While it’s great to officially have the bragging rights, this winter was a tough one, especially because of the shoveling. As the snow started piling up during the first storm I started worrying about shoveling.

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Moderation … Yeah, That’s a Thing

by Meghann Ackerman on Tuesday, Dec 16, 2014

It’s recently come to my attention that Victor and I have widely different concepts of what “more healthy” means.

Victor’s cholesterol has been creeping up and his doctor had him start a new medication to bring it down. Given his own CHD and his family’s heart health history, this is a very good thing. At my last doctor’s appointment I was told I could stand to up my good cholesterol levels a little. So, right from the start, we have different points of view.

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Fast Recovery

by Meghann Ackerman on Wednesday, Oct 22, 2014

I’m a big believer in listening to the experts. Based on what I know I don’t know, I can only imagine that the amount of things I don’t know I don’t know is even longer, and that’s why I rely on experts. When it comes to matters of the heart, though, sometimes I forget my policy on listening to the experts.

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The Disclosing Decision

by Meghann Ackerman on Wednesday, Jul 09, 2014

When you stop and think about it, there’s a lot of medical talk that comes with dating. Generally, it’s focused around sexually transmitted infections and there seems to be a consensus among decent people that you disclose that sort of thing before being sexually active with a new partner.

But what about other medical issues? I’ve mentioned before that Victor isn’t big on wearing shirts, especially when it’s hot, so the fact that he had a heart condition was never really a secret. I can’t remember how long we were together before I got around to asking about the specifics, but that gnarly scar down the middle of his chest gave me the heads up that something was going on.

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Got it? Flaunt it.

by Meghann Ackerman on Thursday, May 15, 2014

Victor has never been one to shy away from going topless. He tends to run hot so, unless required, he rarely has a shirt on in the summer. Not wearing a shirt means his surgical scar is visible, and that tends to draw in the curious. Victor generally doesn’t mind answering a few questions about his scar, but heart surgery isn’t exactly what you want to be thinking about during a day at the beach either.

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An Appropriate Level of Worry

by Meghann Ackerman on Monday, Feb 24, 2014

A few weeks ago, a friend told me she liked my blog posts and asked when the next was coming out. I told her when I was on the schedule, but admitted that I had no idea what I was going to write about. Nothing new is going on with Victor’s heart and unless there’s an impending doctor’s appointment (or blog deadline), it’s not something that comes up much in our daily lives.

“So write about that,” she said.

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A Less Obvious Need for a Neighbor

by Meghann Ackerman on Thursday, Dec 26, 2013

Living in place that gets snow, I’ve had my shovel ready in my car for about a month now. Fortunately (I’m not a fan of the snow), I’ve only had to bust it out once so far this season for some early morning strength training/shoveling.

In Massachusetts, laws vary from community to community about what residents are responsible for shoveling, but it’s common in urban areas for residents to be responsible for clearing the sidewalks in front of their houses.

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CHD and Baby Talk

by Meghann Ackerman on Tuesday, Oct 22, 2013

It started right after we got married.

“When are you going to have a baby?”

In case my in-laws find this blog, no, this is not an announcement, but it’s something Victor and I have talked about. And, of course, his congenital heart defect has colored some of those discussions.

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No News is Good News

by Meghann Ackerman on Monday, Sep 16, 2013

Having a doctor who communicates well is a huge help in managing your health. But, it’s when the doctor has nothing to say that I’m the happiest.

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ACHD Appointments: My Role as Wife

by Meghann Ackerman on Monday, Aug 05, 2013

Somewhere along the line cardiology appointments became just another way to mark the passage of time.

The first time I went with Victor to see a cardiologist was scary. The appointment was in an austere medical office building and the waiting room was packed with sickly octogenarians. I had no idea what was going to happen, what the doctor was going to say, or where I fit in to all of this.

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Medical Equipment: Analyzing Interfaces

by Meghann Ackerman on Wednesday, Jun 26, 2013

Apparently, I haven’t spent enough time in hospitals.

I learned this a few weeks ago at my second annual trip to the ER for dehydration. As I was enjoying the restorative effects of an IV, Victor was taking note of all the equipment in the room.

“That’s a terrible design,” he said, after a nurse came in to check on my heart monitor. “She obviously knows how to use it, but it’s not very intuitive.”

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“Can I Ask You a Really Nosy Question?”

by Meghann Ackerman on Monday, Apr 22, 2013

It had taken me a few weeks of debating politeness versus curiosity to approach someone I barely knew and ask him about his medical history. But, I reasoned, in his introduction to the class I was coordinating he had mentioned having heart surgery—it wasn’t a secret. Still, I didn’t want to be rude.

I also knew that my motivation was selfish. I wasn’t particularly interested in his actual condition or surgical procedure; I just wanted reassurance that heart surgery was not the end of the world.

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Emergencies: Not Just for CHD Patients

by Meghann Ackerman on Wednesday, Mar 13, 2013

Every month I tell myself that I’ll get my ACHA Blog post in early. But every month something seems to happen that has me writing up to the last minute. This month, it was a sick kitty.

While I was sitting in the vet’s office yesterday, I realized how much I know about other people’s (and cats’) health. I’ve gone with Victor to enough cardiologist appointments and ER trips that I can give you his medical history, allergies and find the list of his medications he keeps on his phone. If he was unable to answer a doctor or nurse, I could fill enough gaps to keep him safe. Ditto for our cats.

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Anatomical Hearts Versus Pop Culture Hearts

by Meghann Ackerman on Friday, Jan 25, 2013

It started shortly after Christmas—the pink and red boxes of chocolate popping up on store shelves, the emails for deals on romantic getaways, and the Groupons for couples massages. Yes, Valentine’s Day was less than two months away and it was time to buy hearts!

But I’m the type of girl who uses Halloween decorations for year-round decor, so long before I was hanging out in cardiology waiting rooms studying medical illustrations, I preferred the anatomical heart to the pop culture heart. It’s not all macabre, though. Giving your sweetie a card with an anatomical heart on it opens the possibility for cheesy cardiac lines, like...

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A CHD Celebrity for the Holiday Season

by Meghann Ackerman on Wednesday, Dec 19, 2012

It must be the time of year. Santa, Jack Frost, Frosty... winter is full of mascots and spokespeople, which reminded me of an earlier blog about who should be the face of congenital heart defects. And, I think I’ve got a candidate.

The Grinch!

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‘Tis the Season to Indulge

by Meghann Ackerman on Wednesday, Nov 28, 2012

Mid-November through the beginning of the new year is a time of decadence. Starting with the oversized bird, peaking with the spending on holiday gifts and ending with too many flutes of champagne, this is the time of year when we let moderation slip to the side and indulge some of our favorite vices.

During the rest of the year, we all still indulge from time to time and sometimes feel a pang of guilt for our unhealthy ways. But when it comes to having a congenital heart defect, where is the line between indulgence and leading a normal life?

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On Science and Smartphones

by Meghann Ackerman on Friday, Oct 19, 2012

You know what’s cool? Science.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve come to realize how much science gives me without asking for anything in return. Despite barely understanding it, science keeps providing me with new ways to make my life easier, better and more fun.

I started thinking about my parasitic relationship with science last week when I got a new phone. When I got my first smartphone a couple of years ago it was cutting-edge technology. This new phone, though, is exponentially more advanced. Not only does it know when I’m looking at it, but it also gets philosophical when I ask it, “What’s the meaning of life?”

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Healthiness with the Husband

by Meghann Ackerman on Monday, Sep 24, 2012

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.

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End of Life Planning for All

by Meghann Ackerman on Tuesday, Aug 21, 2012

Back in college, my best friend and I had a weekly overnight radio show. Around 4 a.m. the caffeine in our systems would hit a magical level and things would start to get weird. During those extended Velvet Underground tracks we had plenty of time to talk and, almost predictably, the subject that would come up was our funerals.

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I Have No Idea What I'm Doing

by Meghann Ackerman on Friday, Jul 13, 2012

If you spend much time on the internet, you’ve probably seen some version of the “I have no idea what I’m doing” meme, which usually pictures an animal in some type of human situation. When it came time to pick a new health insurance provider this summer I found myself feeling like a cat with a chemistry set or a dog behind the wheel.

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Victor’s Scar

by Meghann Ackerman on Friday, Jun 01, 2012

Chicks dig scars. Well, the chicks I roll with dig scars, anyway. When a person has scars you know that things have happened in his or her life, but usually not what happened. With Victor it was different.

Victor has a gnarly scar running down the center of his chest. You can’t miss it. I can’t remember asking about or him explaining the scar’s origin the first time I saw it, but a scar like that pretty much speaks for itself.

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The opinions expressed by ACHA bloggers and those providing comments on the ACHA Blog are theirs alone, and do not reflect the opinions of the Adult Congenital Heart Association or any employee thereof. ACHA is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the ACHA bloggers.

The contents of this blog are presented for informational purposes only, and should not be substituted for professional advice. Always consult your physicians with your questions and concerns.

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