I feel “Fair”!

The South Carolina State Fair is open this week!

If you have a Congenital Heart Defect (CHD) or Congestive Heart Failure (CHF), or both, you may think that the fair is a place to be avoided. Why go? I can’t ride the rides (a lot of them have those CARDIAC PATIENTS SHOULD AVOID THIS RIDE signs we all hate) and the food… the food is a nuclear disaster without all the radiation. Forget any other questions about “nutrition”, the sodium content of most fair items is through the roof! But I went, and I enjoyed myself because I knew what I could do.

Try to time your arrival for as soon as the gates open. Most fairs use metal detectors at the entrance, so don’t forget “Pacemaker Rules” are in effect if you have a pacer. What are the Pacemaker Rules? Very simple:

Thou shall not allow thy pacemaker to pass between the gates of the metal detector, nor shall thy allow the detector wand to be used upon thy person, so that thy days may be long upon the earth indeed!

To be serious, metal detectors could damage pacemakers. No one is exactly sure why, or how, since it usually can’t be recreated under controlled conditions. Maybe it is a cumulative effect, no one is certain. So pacemaker wearers should just avoid trouble by stepping out of line and requesting a hand search.

Once you are inside, enjoy walking around the fair. Usually the games and the rides open an hour after the midway does, so there are no distractions. And no groups of people congregating around a game or ride, so you should be able to flow with the traffic and get your exercise.

I’m not much of a game player – Funky Heart or not, those midway games will empty your wallet pretty quick! I usually head for the exhibit halls. I think every state agency has a table in the exhibit hall, so I scored a free ruler, yardstick, rain gauge, and someone from the State Treasurer’s office did a record search to see if I had any unclaimed money on deposit with the State. No such luck, I hate to say. The major political parties have booths, especially during an election year! I got a sticker from both the Democrats and the Republicans¬† – I hid one party’s sticker in my pocket while I was at the other party’s table – and seriously thought about wearing both stickers at the same time. I could be one of those “undecided voters” you’re always hearing about. And this year, there seemed to be more than the usual number of those hucksters selling cookware… I wondered for a moment if this was the fair, or maybe I had wandered onto a Food Network show.

Witch brings us to the dangerous part of a state fair: fair food. With Congestive Heart Failure, you have to be very careful about the amount of sodium you consume. My personal limit is 2000 milligrams daily. How much is that, exactly? 2000 Milligrams is two packs of Sweet ‘N’ Low.

Corn dogs? Way more than 2000 miligrams!

Elephant Ears? Forget it!

French Fries? You gotta be kidding!

Batter dipped fried Twinkies? Better eat that in the Emergency Room!

It really comes down to personal responsibility. If you’ve ever been to a fair or festival before, you know what kind of menu items that are available. If you aren’t going to do your part to take care of yourself, then your Cardiologist is pretty much wasting his time. That sounds terrible, but it is the truth. You have to bite the bullet, steer your way past all that great fair food (that can seriously mess you up) and do the right thing.

I always look at it as trading “now” for “later”. I’m going to DC next February, and to Denver later in the year. I have a lot of friends, this blog, and hopefully more good things I can do with and for the Adult Congenital Heart Association (ACHA). So I behave NOW so I can have a good chance of doing all that LATER. So I went over to the Farmer’s Market section and bought a nice red apple for my lunch. (I did “borrow” one French Fry from my dad’s plate when he wasn’t looking… don’t tell anybody!)

The State Fair unofficially marks the end of Summer, so to say goodbye, here is a classic summer song: Bob Seager and the Silver Bullet Band with a live performance of Night Moves. Enjoy!

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