As many of you may know, I have complex congenital heart disease – I was born with heart disease, it is not something that developed in me later in life. One of my first treatment procedures was a Cardiac Catherization through my groin/femoral vein area to enable the doctors to administer medication and take cardiovascular measurements; I was about 2 months old. This prepared me for my open-heart surgery – a Fontan Procedure – when I was about 2 years old. When they say “open-heart surgery” they really mean it – I have a scar from under my collar bone down my chest and another scar across the left side of my chest to my left underarm. I LOVE my scars, they are a constant reminder of my journey! The surgery was a huge success! I’m on life-long medication – Digoxin – and still have a heart murmur/atrial flutter and some limitations, most of which I have come to accept. (I can’t participate in sports like I would have liked to, I have to limit my exercise/workouts, I have to read every single label on every medication – even over-the-counter cold medicine, pain relievers, etc. – I shouldn’t get on roller coasters (oops!), I can’t go to a dentist without first taking a handful of prescription antibiotics, the list goes on…). The one “limitation” I have had the hardest time coming to terms with is the fact that I will not have children of my own – it’s a huge life-threatening risk for me to be pregnant and have children. I have known about this since a very young age and I have never allowed myself to get joyous at the thought of one day becoming a mother, because I know it’s just not something I can do (biologically, physically, personally). But I won’t lie to you, I still get very emotional about it from time to time and cry – a lot. But I know that God has something great planned for me… 😉
Since day one I have been on a check-up schedule which involves electrocardiograms, cardiac stress tests, holter monitoring and echocardiograms. I had a huge scare in April 1999 and was rushed to the ER and later to the UCLA Medical Center for a few days to undergo specialized testing, but thankfully did not need to undergo another surgery.
All in all, I am very lucky, very blessed! I share my story & my scars proudly! This is something that makes me who I am. I know I went through a lot, and so did my family – especially my parents. They have been by my side every step of the way, every day, every moment. Knowing what I have endured and knowing that it could have been a lot worse makes me very thankful to God and appreciative of this beautiful life I have been blessed with.
Yes, I live with heart disease since birth. Yes, I have had open-heart surgery. Yes, I’m on medication. Yes, I have limitations. But… I am alive!! I am thriving!! I am BLESSED & THANKFUL!!
Never be ashamed of sharing your story. You may be the one person that makes a difference for someone else.
My February 2010 interview with Bakersfield Magazine for their “Ladies In Red” Go Red issue.
Learn the facts of heart disease, the leading cause of death in the United States.
American Heart Association
Get educated. Get tested. Raise awareness.
Wear RED February 1st – National Wear Red Day