Dan Feuerriegel (EJ, DAYS) opens up about his heart condition! Click here to learn more--->>
Dan Feuerriegel (EJ DiMera, Days of Our Lives) chatted with Jordan Ross, a fellow actor, on his podcast titled “What’s Your Limp?”. Ross has Cerebral Palsy and Sclerosis which caused him to have a limp that he initially saw as a weakness due to it creating challenges such as limited opportunities as an actor. Now he views it as an asset and he realizes that everyone has their own limp, whether it’s physical or internal and he wants others to view their limps as an asset, too.
On the podcast, Feuerriegel shared that he was born with a heart condition, specifically a heart block where the bottom node of his heart doesn’t work properly. His mother had to give birth to him via C-section as the doctors were concerned he was in distress. He wound up being fine and the doctors told them that he would just have to come in for checkups every six months so they can monitor his heart. They didn’t think he’d be able to play sports growing up, but he was able to. When he was in the third grade, he needed a machine attached to him in order to monitor his heart for 24 hours and he thought the machine was cool since it resembled the ghost trap machine from the movie “Ghostbusters”. The doctors warned him that he would need a pacemaker eventually and he did wind up getting one when he was 17 years old. His heart condition was causing his heart to beat at the intrinsic heart rate, which is the body’s underlying natural rhythm. He was sleeping a lot and found himself getting dizzy from time to time. In hindsight, he wonders if the doctors put in the pacemaker too early as those symptoms could have just been due to drinking, getting dehydrated, etc. He was also frustrated at the time that he couldn’t tell when the pacemaker was working. It kept stopping so he needed the surgery done three times that first year and it would take months to recover from. The doctors explained to him that the bigger concern was he was at risk of his heart rate slowing down too much, particularly in his sleep, and that he could have died in his sleep. He was initially self-conscious of the scar the pacemaker made that it would try to cover it up, particularly at the beach, as he was afraid people would be able to tell. He’s comfortable with it now and openly talks to people about it.
Feuerriegel goes on to explain that the battery life for pacemakers is 8-9 years and he currently feels fine. His current pacemaker has about 2 more years left before he needs it replaced again. He still sees his doctor every 6 months to monitor his heart.
Feuerriegel talks about how grateful he was for his upbringing; his parents were supportive of him, took him to his appointments, and they treated him normal like any other child. He’s thankful that it didn’t interfere with his life. His advice to any parent of a child with a similar condition is to treat them normally and have them understand that their condition doesn’t make them any different and it’s not a problem. He has a friend who may need to get a pacemaker and he’s been supportive of him that if he does need it, it’s okay, and reminded his friend that the point of it is to help his heart work properly.
Feuerriegel talks about how he struggles to be considered an inspiration to anyone. Considering he never felt like his medical condition interfered with his life, he didn’t feel like it was something to overcome. Therefore, it took him time to accept that other people can find him inspiring. He hopes he can show people that they can do things even though they have a pacemaker. He also hopes to help get rid of the taboo that pacemakers are only associated with older people. When he talks about it with others, people are shocked, especially when they hear he got his first pacemaker at 17 years old. Feuerriegel tries his best to make other people’s lives around him as positive as they can be.
You can check out the full podcast at the link below: