An Update on the Heart Child

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Friends and family know that the heart child, Corey, is nine years old now and doing remarkably well, but for new people surfing in to “meet” my little source of inspiration, I thought it might be time to write an update.

Corey’s in fourth grade, five years post-Fontan, and in the 62nd percentile for height, 50th for weight. He’s huge! He eats more food than I do at any one sitting. When he’s a teenager, I’ll have to hit Costco and buy six chickens at a time. And not to brag, but he’s wicked smart. Ridiculously smart. Okay, so I mean to brag. He’s so smart! Let me give you some examples of his cerebral prowess.

1. He watched videos on youtube and taught himself to solve the Rubik’s Cube. He can now solve any traditional 3×3 Rubik’s Cube in a matter of mere minutes.

2. When he took the state assessment test in his elementary school, his results in math were off the charts. He scored well above not only the kids in his school, but all the kids in the county AND the state.

3. His last report card was straight As.

4. He has an affinity for cards, picking up new games and winning at them so quickly that I am afraid to expose him to his Uncle Dave, who was once a professional poker player, because if Corey picks up poker like he picks up everything else, look out! We’ll be mortgaging the house to pay off his gambling debts before he’s 10. Or buying a vacation house in the Keys. Could go either way.

5. He beats me at Monopoly regularly, and I don’t let him win.

That’s enough about Corey’s brain. It’s a great relief, I must say, for his parents. When he was diagnosed with a single ventricle in utero, we wondered if he would be below average. Or well below average. Or worse. When our PC said, “If he is meant to be an above-average student, he will be, regardless of his heart,” he was right!

Corey also plays baseball. And well. Soccer is out – too much running – but he’s got rockin’ hand/eye coordination, and those brains of his come in handy. You need brains to play baseball. Luckily I don’t need brains to watch him play. I just need beer and peanuts. Just kidding. About the peanuts. These kids might have a nut allergy! I would never expose them to peanuts. Ahem.

Right now Corey (and his heart-healthy younger brother) is all excited for the holidays. We will be bringing out our Halloween decorations today! And I am feeling the boys’ excitement. The 10th anniversary of Corey’s diagnosis is this month, and when that day passes, and I mark it (as I always do), it will be with a giant smile on my face as I watch my amazing heart child play with our Halloween toys and talk non-stop about wearing his costume, trick-or-treating, marching in the holiday parade, going to Aunt Vicki’s for Thanksgiving, seeing Super Magic Elf (or Elf on the Shelf) again, what he’s going to write in his letter to Santa, when we’re going to get the Christmas tree, whether or not Mommy is going to forget the carrots for the reindeer again……..

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Athletes with a Congenital Heart Defect

The Sochi Olympics are in full swing, which got me thinking about athletes with CHD. Everyone in the world of CHD is probably aware of Shaun White, but there are some other noteworthy people who’ve managed to become athletes despite their special hearts. For example, I met Brian Roberts, major league baseball player for the Baltimore Orioles, when he was part of an event for children with CHD. He’s a classy and inspirational guy. Here is a list of 10 athletes with various defects, including Olympians.

Ten Athletes with a Congenital Heart Defect

1. Aaron Boone – former major league baseball infielder (bicuspid aortic valve)

2. Beau Casson – former Australian cricketer (Tetralogy of Fallot)

3. Lauren Holiday – Olympic gold-medalist in soccer (atrial septal defect – ASD)

4. Nwankwo Kanu – retired Nigerian soccer player and Olympic gold medalist (aortic valve defect)

5. MacKinzie Kline – golfer who played LPGA tour (heterotaxy syndrome)

6. Jane Lee – marathon runner (Tetralogy of Fallot)

7. Ramie Mohlman – US Olympic gold medalist, FILA World Cup of Sombo Wrestling 2006 (unspecified heart valve defect)

8. Brian Roberts – major league baseball player for Baltimore Orioles (atrial septal defect – ASD)

9. Brandon Rouse – defensive tackle for Clemsen (coronary hypoplasia), passed away after collapsing and going into arrhythmia

10. Shaun White – Olympic gold-medalist in snowboarding (Tetralogy of Fallot)