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My Mended Heart

November 24, 2010

When I was writing my very first blog (“Why Roller Derby?”), I somehow forgot one of the reasons that I’m training for roller derby. I covered the areas of fitness, confidence, etc., but forgot to mention a really big reason; my heart works. About eight months ago, I learned that I had a congenital heart defect. I was born with a hole in my heart which was making my heart work harder and less efficiently than it should have. This led to enlargement of the chambers of my heart and, I learned, made cardio workouts more difficult.

Six months ago, I had a procedure to patch up the hole. A device was placed in my heart though a catheter in my groin. When the cardiologist went to place the device, he discovered that the hole was larger than was first believed (1.7 cm) and he had to use the largest size of the device we had picked out.

Today I went back for my six month check up. They injected saline with very small bubbles into my vein so that they could monitor with ultrasound whether any of the bubbles could get past the device, which would indicate that the blood can flow backwards through the chambers of my heart. This backwards blood flow causes extra strain and can lead to enlargement of the heart. The backwards blood flow is suspected to be tied with certain kinds of migraines.

Before injecting the bubbles, the doctor told me that it’s quite common for some bubbles to get through, and would not be unexpected considering the size of my defect. The bubbles were injected, and not a single one crossed over into the other chamber! Not only that, but the chambers of my heart have returned to a normal size. The doctor seemed to be just as excited about the result as I was. He said he might ask me to come in for additional studies just to help out with his research on these kinds of repairs (which I would gladly do–he’s an incredible doctor and I’m very grateful for his care).

I told him about my decrease in migraines and improvement in fitness (another benefit of a fixed up heart). I told him that I was training for roller derby and had stopped taking blood thinners because the bruises would have been ridiculous. He agreed with my decision to stop blood thinners and was excited to hear about my roller derby endeavors. He said he loves to see the outcome of his work and asked for a ticket to a bout when I’m ready to start playing for real (I’ll totally get him one). He repeated what he had told me at my three month check up:

Don’t hold back–go all out!

And I will. Because I can.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. November 24, 2010 6:54 am

    This chokes me up. You're so totally awesome. And the heart thing . . . another one of those weird little things we have in common. Keep rockin' it girl. ❤

  2. November 24, 2010 3:22 pm

    So good to hear of ur recovery! I'm a heart patient too. Gotta keep the ticker happy and healthy! ❤

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