I’ve always known I was fairly unathletic, but I assumed it was my fault somehow. Like, I didn’t care enough to do what other people do, so over time, I became unable to. Or something like that.
But I mean I could never do what other people can, physically. Even as a kid. And watching my kid (who is perhaps a bad example; if she doesn’t get enough exercise that day, she literally jogs around the couch), I realized that the fact that I couldn’t do what others my age could do as a child was a pretty big indication something was up.
This morning, I was editing some nursing questions about the circulatory system, and saw the symptoms of exertion in someone with mitral valve prolapse. And realized that’s exactly what happens to me when I run. Now, I’m not in the best shape — I’m not even in my best shape — but I’m not sedentary. I have a 3-year-old. Who is over half my height, a quarter of my weight (and I’m 4 months pregnant!), and runs around the couch for fun. I’m doing okay. But let me run a quarter of a mile, and I literally feel like I’m dying. I can’t catch my breath. I pour sweat. And it feels like my heart may just pound right out of my chest.
What made this so shocking is not the realization that those symptoms are related to mitral valve prolapse, but that I forgot I had MVP in the first place. I used to worry about it, shortly after I was diagnosed as a teenager, but I’ve had so few problems related to it that it just dropped off my radar. Instead, I blamed my allergies, which are usually uppermost on my mind when it comes to chronic health issues. (If you woke up congested 365 days of the year, allergies would be your go-to explanation, too. I don’t have “seasonal” allergies…I have all-year, everything allergies.) Or my desk job. Or (gulp) my laziness…if I really pushed myself, I could run, too.
Well, maybe not.
I’m not entirely giving up. I’ve watched me do things I never thought I could do. Like touch my toes. (I can’t do it right now, obvs, but I could before my belly popped out to say hi. Really, I could!) And tree pose. And get up at 4 a.m. to go for a 5-mile walk and like it. So I may still jog someday. It just may take me longer to get there than most.
That’s okay. I’m patient.